[cf. Gabler 20: 1-5; 1922 24:1-5]
Stephen is teaching a class in a private (as we’d say in the US) boys’ school not far from the tower where we were in Episode 1. We’re in the middle of a lesson about Pyrrhus, a Greek general who fought against the Romans in the 3rd century BC. You’ve heard about him and his victories – that are so costly they call into question whether the fight was worth it at all. Tarentum was one of the cities that asked for Pyrrhus’s help against the Romans.
This is not just any classroom, by the way. The school caters to upper-middle class protestant families – which would have been apparent to contemporary readers. This becomes even clearer when you meet the headmaster, Mr. Deasy, in a few pages. Stephen is an outsider here, and looks at history from a very different perspective than his students. [We’ve chosen the pictures on the wall to illustrate some of these differences – extra credit to commenters who can identify them!]
In the Odyssey, Telemachus leaves Ithaca and goes to King Nestor to find out what happened to his father – what’s taken him so long to come home, and if he’s even still alive. What’s interesting about Telemachus’ predicament is that he knows what has to be done – the suitors cannot stay – but he can’t act until he knows what happened to Odysseus.