Odysseus (Ulysses) reveals himself to Telemachus (Book XVI)

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Telemachus was greeted by the dogs of Eumaeus, who wagged their tails without barking, and then by the swineherd himself, who could not hold back his joy and his displays of tenderness. By virtue of the sacred laws of hospitality, he assured Eumaeus that he would clothe and feed the beggar so that he would not be in his care. Indeed, he was afraid to send him to the suitors who would mistreat him and assured that he could not protect him if he took him in his home. Then he sent Eumaeus to warn his mother of his return. The swineherd was not to go himself and warn his grandfather Laertes, but Penelope had to send the steward.

Athena then appeared in the guise of a tall and beautiful woman, visible only to Odysseus (Ulysses). She took the hero aside and told him that it was time to reveal his identity to his son and prepare the death of the suitors, and then she gave back his splendid appearance.

Odysseus (Ulysses), the “hero of endurance,” made himself recognized by Telemachus, but the latter was in doubt, unable to believe that a mortal could change his appearance instantaneously. Odysseus (Ulysses) replied that Athena had always accompanied him and that for her, this transformation was child’s play. Their coming together was then the occasion for abundant tears.

Then Odysseus (Ulysses) informed his son of his time with the Phaeacians and inquired about the number of suitors. Telemachus counted them: fifty-two came from Doulichion accompanied by six valets, twenty-four from Same, twenty from Zante and twelve from Ithaca.

There was also the herald Medon and the divine aedes Phemius, as well as two servants.

As Telemachus doubted that they could, by themselves, overcome them, Odysseus (Ulysses) told him of the participation of Zeus and Athena, explained his plan and gave him detailed instructions. Telemachus had to go to the mansion, pay the suitors with kind words, bear without flinching the affronts Odysseus (Ulysses) could endure under his appearance as a beggar and gather the weapons to hide them. He had to set aside two spears, two swords and two shields that he would recover later. Under no circumstances was he to reveal that Odysseus (Ulysses) had taken on the appearance of a beggar. Finally, both should also test the women and servants in order to know who had remained faithful to them.

It was then that the boat that had brought back Telemachus entered into the port of Ithaca. A herald came to warn Penelope of the return of her son, which all the suitors heard. But it was to her alone that Eumaeus, who had arrived at the manor, said where he was.

It was then that Antinoos’ boat returned to port after having set out to lay in ambush with his men. Antinoos encouraged the suitors to immediately kill Telemachus and share his belongings before he denounced the ambush to the people’s assembly. Amphinomos, son of Nisus and descendant of Aretes, leader of the suitors from Doulichion “the island with wheat”, whose words pleased Penelope, replied that he would refuse to kill Telemachus without the order of Zeus. All the suitors took the same position.

Penelope, who had learned from Medon that some planned to kill her son, entered the room and went after Antinoos, although he was considered the most sensible of those of his age. She reminded him that Odysseus (Ulysses) had saved his father’s head.

Eurymachos reassured her, assuring her of his friendship for Telemachus, but he only thought in his heart of his death.

Just before the return of Eumaeus back home, Athena gave Odysseus (Ulysses) his old appearance so that the swineherd would be kept in ignorance, because she feared that he would warn Penelope.

As Eumaeus recounted that he had seen the return of the boat which left for the ambush, the “sublime” Telemachus smiled at his father without the swineherd noticing. 

The future yoga will need to build on what has nurtured, consecrated, and organized the basic vital (Eumaeus considers Telemachus as a son).

The old realisations, on the other hand, are not capable of admitting an element that arises on the way and is foreign to them, especially if this element seems to have no use for the yoga and does not correspond in any way to their conceptions despite their pretention of “openness”. It is therefore the “future yoga” that alone assumes this new element (Telemachus does not want to risk sending the “beggar” to the suitors despite the sacred law of hospitality, and takes on him his maintenance and his food).

In this delicate transition to the new yoga, some precautions must be taken because the different parts of the being must adhere one after the other in a certain order: Penelope must be informed of the return of her son, but not yet Laertes, not even Eumaeus. Then the inner guide ensures that the “future yoga” recognizes that transparency is accomplished (Athena convinces Odysseus (Ulysses) to reveal himself to Telemachus).

It is this “future yoga” that is able to identify the ancient realisations that stand in the way: about half comes from the “liberated” spiritual nature of the seeker (Doulichion “the end of slavery”), a quarter of the consecrated mental human nature (Same) and a quarter of what has seen the emergence of the psychic (Zante), in other words “the best of the old” (Telemachus states the origin of the suitors). At this stage it is not the vital or the mind that constitutes the greatest obstacles, but the spiritual realisations and beliefs associated with them.

“The memory of progress on the way” (the bard) and his “higher understanding” (the herald) are also quoted by Telemachus, but they will be spared by Odysseus (Ulysses). Indeed, the “memory” of the path and the “transmission of Knowledge” – because the word “herald” in Greek also means “Caduceus,” a symbol that the herald carries on the hand (κηρυκειον) – deserve to be preserved for all of humanity.

While realizing that the conditions are right for the new yoga, the seeker has a very precise intuition of how the transition should be carried out and the help supporting it, not only the inner guide (Athena) but the superconscious, at the highest level of the overmind (Zeus): the new yoga will have to “infiltrate” the old forms without their knowledge and without disturbing them, maintain an absolute “equality” regardless of the attacks endured, and deprive these ancient realisations of the means they could later use against him (the true nature of Odysseus (Ulysses) should not be revealed, Telemachus must flatter the suitors and steal their weapons). The seeker also plans to examine the old goals, as well as what was associated with these goals and yoga work, to find out which ones could be kept in the new yoga (it is planned to test the fidelity of women and servants).

At the same time, the “wisdom” that took note of the failure of its first attempt to eliminate the new yoga, tries to gather all the old realisations of yoga in a final burst against it (Antinoos tells the suitors to murder Telemachus before he could denounce the ambush to the people’s assembly). But these old realisations begin to understand the Truth of this new battle (the suitors only agree to eliminate Telemachus if Zeus gives them the order).

What the suitors are aiming for are the assets of Odysseus (Ulysses) (what has been acquired in the spirit-matter union), but they do not want his house (the structure) and are indifferent to whom Penelope will choose: no matter the old realisation that “expands” as long as one stays in the “known.”

Amphinomos can be understood as “what organizes all around.” He was the leader of the suitors from Doulichion, the “island with wheat”: wheat representing domesticated nature, it would be related to great mastery. Son of Nisus and descendant of Aretes, he represents a capacity derived from mental evolution itself coming from “what rises in a just way.” This explains why he refuses to act without an inner order from the highest mind, in other words the mental will to conform to the divine law whose expression obviously satisfies “the vision of a more total freedom” (his words please Penelope). The latter, realizing that the new yoga is in peril, decides, through an inner dialogue, to appeal to her “wisdom” to reorient it (Penelope, who was informed of the murder plan against her son, attacks Antinoos who was considered the most wise and tries to bring him back to his senses).

What in the seeker is the most beautiful achievement, that of “holiness”, tries to convince “the vision of a more total freedom” that it is the best protection for the future yoga, although the seeker knows deep down that it is fundamentally opposed (Eurymachos “with the face of a God, the most accomplished warrior” reassured Penelope, assuring her of his friendship for Telemachus, but he thought only in his heart of his end). Indeed, holiness is based on the highest human conception of what pleases the divine and not on an absolute surrender to the divine, for, as Sri Aurobindo says, there is always an ego in the saint and the wise.

To address the fight against old realisations, “what has realized the possibility of energies flowing between mind and matter” must begin to get closer to them by being on a different plane that they cannot integrate (Athena restores Odysseus (Ulysses) to his appearance as an old man in rags so as not to be recognized by Eumaeus or the suitors).

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