Monsacré, Hélène. 2018. The Tears of Achilles. Trans. Nicholas J. Snead. Introduction by Richard P. Martin. Hellenic Studies Series 75. Washington, DC: Center for Hellenic Studies. http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:hul.ebook:CHS_MonsacreH.The_Tears_of_Achilles.2018.
III.2. Tears in a Different World: The Odyssey
When and Why Does Odysseus Hold Back Tears?
After each of Demodocus’ performances, Homer emphasizes Odysseus’ desire to hide his tears. Even in his sorrow, Odysseus practices dissimulation, as if the act of hiding—literally behind a mantle or figuratively behind lies and ruses—were a defining characteristic of his nature.  At other moments in the narrative, the need to refrain from crying and to hold back tears is emphasized. For instance, Odysseus orders those of his men who escaped the wrath of the Cyclops not to cry: this is a matter of not wasting enthusiasm or the time needed to embark (Odyssey 9.468–469).
It is worth lingering a bit on these three verses, since several notable layers of meaning can be observed, especially if we digress and connect them with another crucial passage from the Odyssey: the contest of the bow in Odyssey 21. There, horn and iron are also associated: the great bow of Odysseus is made of horn (kera, 21.395), and the arrows must pass through iron axes (21.81, 97, 114, 328).  The emphasis is placed on the hardness and solidity of these elements.
When Tears are Uncontrollable
Certain details further specify the strangeness of Odysseus’ situation. Calypso and Circe are described in specific gold and silver clothing that they put on at sunrise (Odyssey 5.230–232 = 10.543–545). The bright clothing, the breaking of the day, and the love of the two goddesses are themes that recall the affairs of Aphrodite and Eos with their mortal lovers.  Odysseus, in his own way, is also a victim of abduction, as Orion and Tithonus are. He is virtually the prisoner of Calypso. For purely erotic reasons, the brave warrior Odysseus is in turn the prisoner of a nymph and of a magician. The reversal is total: the reasons for and conditions of his detention with Circe and Calypso are the antithesis of the ideal warrior. Thus, as a complete “anomaly,” the prisoner of a goddess in a supernatural land, Odysseus can no longer avoid being invaded by extreme suffering; no longer having masculine recourse, he can only abandon himself to tears.
Mediation by the Bard: The Tears of Odysseus, Hero of Troy
While this story delights the Phaeacians, it immediately provokes tears in Odysseus (Odyssey 8.86, 92): it is his identity as the hero of Troy that he retrieves here, because he remembers. The song of the bard places him, in a sense, back in heroic circumstances: after all of the strange adventures that he has known in supernatural lands, he relives at this moment the siege of Troy and the suffering of war. His tears are as much a sign of his current plunge back into the world of warrior’s exploits as of his setting aside this heroic world of men, specifically because it fails to return the victor to his homeland.
As Pietro Pucci has correctly observed, the song of heroic exploits “brings forth irresistible tears,”  and it is at this point that the actual metamorphosis of Odysseus takes place. Through his tears, Odysseus regains his past; the song of the bard pulls him again toward the realm of war, of the Iliad. What Gérard Genette calls the “oblique relationship” between the Odyssey and the Iliad  can be clearly observed in this passage. In memory of Ilion, Odysseus sheds the tears of a hero, tears significant on two levels: first, it is when the bard sings of Odysseus’ victory over Deiphobus (nikēsai, Odyssey 8.520) that his crying interrupts the story. On this first level, Odysseus is the “ransacker of cities,” the ptoliporthos  hero. On a second level, the tears of Odysseus and the comparison that they cause bring about the end of the interrupted story.  The mention of the hero who fell outside the walls of the city while defending his people and the widow taken off into slavery clearly refer to the story of Hector and Andromache. The female Trojan prisoners, implicitly evoked in Demodocus’ song (“He sang how the steep citadel was destroyed by different men [the Greeks] in different places,” 8.516),  can be found in the comparison to the anonymous woman sobbing over her husband.
Odysseus the Bard
The Tears of Odysseus, King of Ithaca
The figure of Odysseus is, in this moment, at the height of his power: handling the agonistic bow with ease, as the bard handles his cithara, making the string “sing” (aeise), he completes the act that definitively establishes his preeminence and restores order in Ithaca.  He is about to inflict great suffering upon the suitors, and only the bard Phemius will be spared (Odyssey 22.344–347).