Percy Jackson’s visit to Lotus Hotel, viewed through a Homeric lens
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CitationNagy, Gregory. 2020.10.09. "Percy Jackson’s visit to Lotus Hotel, viewed through a Homeric lens." Classical Inquiries. http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:hul.eresource:Classical_Inquiries.
AbstractAs I was reading through the first volume of Rick Riordan’s five-volume series, Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Lightning Thief (2005), the story that is told there about a visit to “Lotus Hotel” by Percy and his companions Annabeth and Grover (pages 257–265) made me think of the passage in the Homeric Odyssey, Rhapsody 9 verses 82–104, where Odysseus and his companions visit the Land of the Lotus-Eaters. I am sure that countless readers before me have thought what I am thinking about the story told by Rick. What we see here is a deft retelling of the story of Odysseus and the Lotus-Eaters. In both versions of the story, let’s call them Homer’s version and Rick’s version, there is a pleasurable forgetting of the present, and this forgetfulness leads to the danger of eternally postponing the future. But I have something to add here about this Odyssean story, viewed through a Homeric lens. That something is a detail in Rick’s retelling that made me rethink the original passage in the Odyssey. What caught my eye in Rick’s version of the story was his perceptive highlighting of visual pleasures— like the sweet delights of video-games. I see a comparable highlighting in the picture that I show here as the main illustration for my essay. In this picture, we see an art-seller who is selling the beauty of his art to beautiful people who are forgetting about their own beauty. As we will see, such forgetfulness is at the core of the Homeric story about Odysseus and the Lotus-Eaters.
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