The Odyssey

ODYSSEUS: A MERE MORTAL, BUT PURELY MORAL
In Homer’s Odyssey, he uses the stories of Calypso and Circe to give a reader a glimpse at Greek values. Odysseus is a “perfectly” moral man by Greek standards. In the Calypso episode, Odysseus demonstrates the value of faithfulness, and in the Circe episode, he illustrates Greek values in general. While both goddesses seek Odysseus to be their husband, Odysseus responds as a perfect Greek hero. During the Calypso episode, Homer teachers that one must remain faithful in their hearts. The Circe episode shows the loyalty between a commander and his troops, burial rights, hospitality, and the relationship between host and guest. The Calypso episode explains how a man must be faithful to his wife in his heart.
The Calypso scene opens with a description of how beautiful her island of meadows and flowers is and how “even a deathless god who came upon that place would gaze in wonder, heart entranced with pleasure” (154). The story proceeds to describe the goddess as having a “breathtaking voice” (154) and being “lustrous” (155). Yet, when the story describes Odysseus, he is “wrenching his heart with sobs and groans and anguish” (156). Even though, Odysseus resides on a beautiful island with a goddess who takes care of him, he still wishes to be at home. Odysseus recognizes that fact that the island is beautiful, but he still longs to be at home. Additionally, Odysseus remains faithful to Penelope, not by modern day standards, but he chooses Penelope over the goddess. When Calypso questions Odysseus, he recognizes that fact that Calypso is more beautiful. Odysseus even mentions that Penelope “falls far short” (159) of Calypso, but yet, Odysseus’s heart is with Penelope. Next, Odysseus must build a raft himself. Yet, he finds this labor minimal since he is given a chance to return home. He even realizes that he may become shipwrecked or die on the voyage, but he is willing to take these risks to return home.
The final temping offer to make Odysseus turn away from his home and his wife is when Calypso offers him immortality to stay with her. Again, Odysseus chooses his land and his wife. In modern times, sleeping with a goddess would be considered unfaithful, but Greek values allow this if and only if the man still wishes to return home and return to his wife. Thus, one of the highest values for a Greek was to be faithful to their home and their wives in their hearts. The stories involving Circe describe several values. The stories describe hospitality, the loyalty between a commander and his troops, the relationship between host and guest, and burial rights.


When the story begins with an analysis on how guests ought to be treated. Circe is an enchantress who welcomes some of Odysseus’s troops into her home for food and drink. Then, she made a potion that would clear their memories so that when she struck them with her magic wand, they turned into pigs. Zeus or Hermes must have witnessed this episode because Hermes came to Odysseus with a “potent drug” (239) that would counteract Circe’s potion. Since Zeus is the god of hospitality, Circe was in the wrong by harming her guests as she did. So, Odysseus went to Circe with the drug, and when she attempted to do the same thing, Odysseus was able to triumph over trickery. Thus, another important Greek value is to be kind to strangers, treat them as guests, and follow the hospitality etiquette. The next event demonstrates that the commander must be loyal to his troops. Circe offers Odysseus marvelous food with “appetizers aplenty too, lavish with her bounty” (242), but her refuses the food saying that “any man in his right mind” (242) could not accept food “before he’d freed his comrades-in-arms and looked them in the eyes” (242). So, Greek soldiers must be loyal to each other. This is further demonstrated when Circe sends for Odysseus’s ship to come closer to shore.
Eurylochus hesitates and is mutinous against Odysseus’s order to bring the ship about. Odysseus, though, still remains loyal to him. Even though he “had half a mind to draw the sharp sword from beside my hip and slice his head offBut comrades check me, each man trying to calm me” (244). This event offers another important value: the soldiers must be loyal to their commander and heed every order. So, Homer demonstrates how troops and commanders ought to be extremely loyal to each other. While the troops and Odysseus are at Circe’s palace, they each respect each other as hostess and guest. Circe tries to make them comfortable and joyful as she says, “no more tears now, calm these tides of sorrow” (244). She hosts Odysseus and his troops for a year. Odysseus graciously accepts Circe’s kindness and is good to her. When Odysseus requests to leave, Circe grants him his desire, and she even helps him. Here, Homer demonstrates that it is necessary to give the host warning when planning to leave and even ask the host for leaving rights. Circe tells him to visit Tiresias in the Kingdom of the Dead for advice on how to get home safely.
Then, on their final departing from Aeaea, Circe gives them food and drink to take on their voyage as well as a swift wind. She gives them several gifts as expected by a hostess when her guest leaves. Therefore, while host must be gracious and giving to guests, the guests are expected to be respectful of their host.

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Finally, Homer tells how the dead are to be given their rights. Before departing Aeaea again, the troops must mourn the Elpenor, give him a funeral, and bury his body. The fact that Odysseus and his troops returned all the way back to Aeaea shows that the burial right of the dead is extremely important. Therefore, the Greeks held the right of services and burial to be a significant value. Homer portrays Odysseus as a nearly perfect man with nearly perfect Greek values. Hence, the reader is able to get a glimpse of Greek values by using Odysseus’s decisions and action as a guideline. The Calypso story shows that Greek values require a man to be faithful to his land and to his wife no matter what the temptation is. The Circe episode shows the loyalty between a commander and his troops, burial rights, hospitality, and the relationship between host and guest.

The Odyssey

.. . Throughout the story, the crew perpetually disobeys the instructions of Odysseus. For example, when the Odysseus and his men defeated Ismaros, the men stayed on the island to revel in their victory, although Odysseus exhorts them to leave the island. As a result, the people of Ismaros attacked the men and more lives were lost. Another example of this behavior is in Book X, when the Odysseus and his crew land of Aeolus, who holds control of the winds.

Odysseus is welcomed there and showered with gifts by Aeolus. Aeolus also gives him a sack containing strong winds, except for the West Wind. The crew then sets sail back to Ithaca. After ten days, when the ship is nearly home to Ithaca, Odysseus falls asleep accidentally and the crew is jealous of Odysseus because of his wealth of gifts. They believe that in the sack contain more treasure, so they open the bag.

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The strong winds blow them off course and they are sent back to Aeolus’s island. As a result of their jealousy, Odysseus does not go home and is away from home another ten years. If they had not opened the sack, Odysseus and the crew would probably be home at the same time as Menelaos got home. Lastly, when the Odysseus and his crew went to the land of the Dead, Theiresias warned him about the island of Thrinacia, where the cows and sheep are plentiful and should not be eaten. Theiresias also told them to make a sacrifice to the gods. However, when they went to the island, they disobeyed Odysseus again and Eurylokhos urged the men to eat the cows rather than starve, while Odysseus was asleep.

This resulted in the destruction of their ship by Zeus’s magnificent thunderbolts. The incessant disobedience of the crew teaches the audience of human foolishness and the punishments as a result. Another storyteller is the combination of Helen and Menelaos. Their stories told to Telemakhos form a composite picture of the hero, Odysseus. Each tells a story that reveals a different aspect of the hero.

Their function is to add to the fame of Odysseus as well as tell a true account of the heroic deeds of Odysseus to Telemakhos. Helen tells the story of Odysseus tactile ways when he dressed as a beggar and entered the city of Troy to investigate the city and not be noticed. However, Helen had noticed him, but did not say a word. Odysseus also had stopped the men in the horse from making a sound while in the horse as to not give them away tot he enemy Trojans. Although Menelaos did not tell much of the deeds of Odysseus, but more of his own, it is still significant to the epic because it encapsulates the many other archaic heroes of the in the fictional world of The Odyssey.

Menelaos tells how he was stranded in Pharos, but cleverly hid under seal skins to trap the god, Proteus, to tell him what he had to do to return home. Proteus then told him that he had to go back to Egypt to make a proper sacrifice to the Gods before departing on their voyage home. Menelaos, disappointingly, did this. This story demonstrates two things. One is the clever Menelaos on how he trapped Proteus. This shows his bravery and his tactile ways.

The other is the punishment for not worshipping the gods before voyages. Proteus also told of the whereabouts of Odysseus and other leaders of the war. Menelaos told Telemakhos that Odysseus was held captive at Calypso’s island. Another significant group of storytellers is the Sirens. Although the encounter with the Sirens are brief, it is profound in that the encounter itself was a heroic deed and the story told added to the fame of Odysseus.

Odysseus was told to place beeswax on the ears of his crew so they would not listen to the enticing songs of the Sirens, but he himself was to be tied to the post so he could listen to the song. This was a dangerous task because he was tempted to jump and swim to the Sirens because of their beautiful voices. Of course, he had to listen to their song because he was a hero and it would be a great story to tell his audience that he had heard the song of the Sirens and he survived. The Sirens would have eaten him if he had swum to them. Although he could not resist, and he tried hard to break free from the ropes, he survived. To the people, surviving the song of the Sirens is a great deed because almost no one ever survived because they were so tempting they made sailors and soldiers forget about home.

The Siren song itself was of the story of the Trojan War and Odysseus’s greatness in the war. He wanted to listen to it because like many of the other heroes, he liked hearing of the great glory days of the war and to remember his great friends. The main function of the Siren’s story is the great survival of Odysseus when he listened to the song. When Odysseus is on the island of Alkinoos, Demodokos, the blind minstrel tells of the story of Odysseus, which in the end reveals Odysseus’ identity to the people. Demodokos supposedly represents Homer himself incorporated into the epic. It is believed that Homer was also blind, creating the connection between the two.

The fact that Demodokos reveals Odysseus’ identity plays an important role because it demonstrates the importance of poetry and the oral tradition. Since the minstrel is a singing poet who tells the story, he solves a great mystery that the king cannot even figure out. The multiple narrative of this epic encapsulates the tradition of oral storytelling and the fictional world of Greece culture. It also demonstrates the multiple heroic and noble men of the times. Storytelling was a form of entertainment during the ancient times and The Odyssey, along with the Iliad, became the backbone for which the fictional Greek literature was based upon.

Mythology.

The Odyssey

Throughout vast journeys of many heroes, no other hero had a more complex journey than Odysseus. This journey is called The Odyssey, written by Homer. It is an epic poem or story told of a hero name Odysseus on a 20-year voyage trying to get back home from the Trojan War. The great epic poem known as The Odyssey and attributed to Homer was probably first written down around the eighth century BC, but the origins of the ancient story in myth, legend, and folklore and art appear to be much older. Greek Epic Hero When you think about Greek Epic heroes, Odysseus will most likely come to mind. Odysseus is the main character in Homer’s poem “The Odyssey.” “The Odyssey” is a narrative poem that describes Odysseus’ adventures and obstacles in his quest to return home to Ithaca, where he is king, from the Trojan War. Odysseus has been gone for two decades. All the other chieftains have returned home. However, Odysseus’ whereabouts are unknown. One of the things that make Odysseus a Greek hero is that the gods favor him. In the Odyssey the gods help Odysseus many times. When Poseidon struck Odysseus’ ship with lightning, Odysseus was able to survive because a goddess named Ino gave him a magical cloak. The cloak prevents Odysseus from drowning. When Circe turns Odysseus men into swine, Hermes the messenger god gives Odysseus a magical herb that prevents Circe from using her spells on him. Due to this Odysseus was able to gain favor in Circe’s eyes and he convinced her to turn his men back to normal. Towards the end of the book, when Odysseus returns to Ithaca, Athena disguises him as a beggar. The disguise was to fool the suitors, who are eating Odysseus out of his home and are harassing his wife Penelope, and to get Odysseus access to the palace. The ancient Greeks used to say that a true hero must show respect to the gods by giving them sacrifices and praying to them. Odysseus gives sacrifices to the gods in many instances in The Odyssey.” When Odysseus goes to Hades, the underworld, he sacrifices a ram and an ewe to the gods. When Odysseus defeats Polyphemus the Cyclops who is the son of Poseidon the god of the sea, Odysseus gives sacrifices to the gods. Lastly when Odysseus defeats those horrible suitors that outnumbered him by so much Odysseus realizes that it was the gods who helped him do this. A mere mortal could not perform the feats of strength and the ability to overcome insurmountable odds without help from the gods. Therefore he makes sacrifices to the gods. When Odysseus is in trouble he always shows that he is depending on the gods by praying to them. The fact that the gods usually listen to him shows that he is well liked by the gods. In order to be a Greek hero you had to be liked by the gods since religion was such a big part in their lives. Odysseus, with the help of the gods, can survive adventures that kill most other men. Odysseus travels to the island of the Cyclopians. The Cyclopians are giants that have one eye, they don’t fear the gods because they believe that they are better than the gods and they eat people. They represent the opposite of what Greek men should be. Odysseus and his men meet Polyphemus the Cyclops. Polyphemus being a Cyclops eats some of Odysseus’ men. Odysseus with the help of the gods figures out a plan to escape and he does. Scylla is a ferocious monster with six heads that kills most men that pass by her island. She kills six of Odysseus’ men. Odysseus prevents her from killing himself and more men. There is another ferocious monster named Charybdis. Charybdis sucks in water from the sea and creates a whirlpool that kills any ship that passes by. Odysseus passes by her. His crew is killed and his ship is destroyed in the whirlpool but Odysseus alone survives. There is an island that Odysseus passes by with monsters called Sirens on it. The Sirens sing beautiful songs that lure ships toward them. The ships then crash into the island and the people are killed. Nobody has heard the song of the Sirens and survived. Odysseus is warned of this island by a god. He then puts plugs in his men’s ears because Odysseus wants to hear the song; he ties himself to the front of the boat and tells his men to tighten his ropes if he tries to get away. Odysseus and his men survive and Odysseus is the only mortal to hear the song of the Sirens and live to tell it. The pictures and sculptures of the ancient Greeks showed only men with perfect bodies and men in battle. Therefore in order to be a true Greek epic hero you had to be both strong and good in battle. Odysseus showed both of these signs. Odysseus travels to the land of the Phaeacians. The Phaeacians have many games such as the discus throw and a javelin throw. Odysseus wins all of these events. When Odysseus gets back to Ithaca Penelope, thinking that Odysseus her husband is dead, has a contest in which she will marry the winner. The winner must string a bow and shoot an arrow through twelve axes on the floor. All of the mighty suitors try, but none of them come even close to triumph. Odysseus, being dressed up as a beggar, tries it and succeeds. The suitors were all mighty men but Odysseus was the only one to triumph. This shows his greatness. After this a war breaks out and Odysseus befriended only by Eumaeus the swineherd and Malanthius the goatherd defeats all of the suitors. The fact that Odysseus was able to defeat the suitors definitely shows that Odysseus is truly a great warrior. Odysseus is a true Greek epic hero. When he is able to use power given to him by the gods, he does so willingly. However this alone would not make him a hero. This would only make him a servant of the gods. Odysseus uses his intellect, farsightedness, and insight to control his fate as best as he can. For example, when he returns home, rather then revealing his true identity Odysseus uses patience and caution to devise and execute a plan that will defeat the suitors. Odysseus is now acting independently of the gods and his heroic personality triumphsthere are a lot of comparison between the book, article, and film. For instance, Odysseus becomes the wise and gentle King of Ithaca and marries Penelope, daughter of the Spartan King Icarius; He builds their bedroom and constructs a bed around the bole of an olive-tree that symbolize their love for one another. It is said in The Odyssey, that if the tree falls dead or rot out, that Odysseus and Penelopes love will died like the oak tree. One of the last scenes in the movie The Odyssey, you can see the same oak tree bloom and expands more when he return form his journeys. Also in the book, film, and movie Penelope was making a blanket to stall some time from her suitors and waited for Telepaths to return with some news of Odysseus. Some of the main points that the movie focuses on are a more complex form of summary. It tells about the journeys of Odysseus and how he fought to get back to his homeland. As every move proceeds, it doesnt tell the whole truth but only have that would fit the viewer. The book is more in depth and it tells the whole story of the character and doesnt leave out any details because it comes straight from the author. The article is just a review of the book and the movie. It will tell you if the book is true or not. In reality, The Odyssey is true in some fashion because some of the places and wars are true. Lets take Ithaca for instances, is a real landmass in the Ionians Islands of the western part of Greece. Through the Trojan War, there is some truth to that because researches have found some parts and signs that deal with a war that took place a great time ago. They found that Troy is in what we call present-day Turkey. It is very hard to understand the book because of the depth it goes into. The translator E. V. Rieu said that The Odyssey was one the hardest books to translate mainly because Homer writes with emphasis on his works. But in the movie, the director Andrei Kanchalovsky said the movie was hard to make because it was to many books that translated The Odyssey in many different ways. In actuality, the article was the best summary of the book and half as good as the movie.



Fayetteville State University
By: Adrian Williams
History 110
11-16-00
Book:
Homer. The Odyssey. 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York10014, USA. Penguin Books Inc, 1946.

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Movie:
The Odyssey. Directed by Andrei Kanchalovsky. Starring Armand Assante, Vanessa L. Williams, and Eric Roberts. 1997.


Article:
http://members.nbci.com/blademaster/myths/odyssey.html
Words
/ Pages : 1,549 / 24

The Odyssey

The Odyssey
The Odyssey is one of the two great epic poems written by the ancient Greek poet Homer. Due to its antiquity, it is not known when or where it was first written, nevertheless, the approximate date and place is 700 BC Greece. Later publications are widespread as the text is transcribed in modern English with no deviation from the original story.


The story is set in the lands and seas in close proximity to Greece changing by books as Odysseus, the protagonist hero, recounts of his many fated adventures and misfortunes in a series of flashbacks. Odysseus, a survivor of the bloody Trojan War that left many Greek heroes dead and a city plundered, yearns to return Ithaca and his wife Penelope, who is solicited by countless suitors, yet due to an accidental grievance done to the God of Sea, Poseidon, Odysseus is plagued by misfortunes and spend nearly ten years traveling the seas searching a path home.

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The Odyssey is written in the third person omniscient perspective, perhaps the only voice capable of integrating Homer’s usage of the Gods and the supernatural. This perspective shifts as necessary to give the reader a full understanding of Odysseus’ journeys. In fact, without incorporating the supernatural forces, there would be no way of understanding why Odysseus is met with such inhospitality from certain Gods or constructing a majestic recount of the actions in the plot.


Odysseus is the classic Greek hero by all standards. He is a hardened warrior who has fought against the Trojans, a dutiful husband who would journey years to return home, a cunning wayfarer who fares well with any host hostile or amicable, and a mortal in bipolar relation with the Gods. He may be the protagonist, yet as a mortal, he is only a servant to the Greek Gods. Poseidon has a bitter grudge against Odysseus for blinding the Cyclopes Polyphemus, yet Homer balances Odysseus’ fate by giving him the aid of the Goddess Athena. Thus, Odysseus’ fortunes and misfortunes are all the deeds and misdeeds of the Gods, and the protagonist is subject to his fate as determined by the supernatural. Homer’s implications about the life and fate of a man could be easily recapitulated as uncontrollable. Though the Greek Gods do not exist, man’s fortunes and misfortunes still contain unexplainable entropy, leaving mortals with no precise knowledge or grasp of their future yet mortals do have an unfailing sense of hope, just as Odysseus is determined to return home despite his foes and hardships.


Odysseus’ wife Penelope is also an important character in the story despite the fact that Homer only writes in fragments about her. Without any news of Odysseus after the end of the Trojan War, she is treated as a widow and wooed by many soliciting men from the neighboring area. Homer has characterized her with an unfailing constitution and loyalty to Odysseus. She fends off the suitors with her cleverness, exemplified by her pretentious indecisive publicized to all the suitors, and waits desperately for Odysseus for indefinite years. Penelope is seen as stubborn in the eyes of her lovers, yet, unbeknownst to these men, her loyalty will be awarded when the Gods finally return Odysseus back to her as according to his fate. The Goddess Athena also favors her and help guides her faith despite the pressure of the suitors and Odysseus’s years away. Homer has fictionalized Penelope with the necessary traits that make an ideal wife in Greek times. She is imbued with unyielding character, quick wit, and lasting beauty.


Athena is a prominent figure of the plot. According to Greek mythology, she is the daughter of Zeus, King of gods and men, and the goddess of wisdom and battle. As with many feminine supernatural figures in The Odyssey, she has a predilection for Odysseus and would watch over him passively throughout the plot. Homer has underscored her aid to Odysseus to counterbalance the weakening brought upon him by Poseidon. This careful equilibrium of heavenly forces is the constant recurring element in the plot that keeps Odysseus alive yet suffering at the same time. Her appearances in the plot are often under the disguise of mortal figures, mystifying her true identity as a goddess to all, yet she does reveal herself to Odysseus at several points, which shows a deep favorability that Homer protrudes to glorify Odysseus.


Telemachus is the son of Odysseus who has lived for twenty years without seeing his father. His role, as the protector of his mother, is part of the parallel subplot that Homer creates in Ithaca. Since most of Odysseus’ adventures are told as flashbacks in his last journey in the land of the Phaeacians before finally returning home, the chronological order of events match up to Telemachus’ first sea journey searching for news of his father. His journey is minor and obscured by the heroic proportions of Odysseus’ journey, nevertheless, Homer uses this subplot to prepare for the reuniting of Odysseus with his family and the climax as Odysseus lead Telemachus in battle against the suitors. Homer illustrates Telemachus in the same fashion as Odysseus with a minimized range of heroism, the same method as most proteges are described.


The plot of The Odyssey is mainly a chain of events as described by Odysseus as he retells his story to his Phaecian hosts. The chain of events starts with his unfortunate landing in the Land of the Lotus Eaters after leaving the shores of Troy. Briefly after that, Odysseus lands on the island of the Cyclops and thus deepen Poseidon’s grudge against him after the blinding of his son Polyphemus. After that, Odysseus spends a year as the unfortunate prisoner of the beautiful witch Circe. Circe eventually allows Odysseus to leave and he continues past the tempting Sirens to Hades, the land of the dead, to consult Tiresias, the dead prophet whose guidance can send Odysseus to the right direction. Another unfortunate incident with the sea monster Scylla, a six headed beast that consumed six of Odysseus’ sailors, left Odysseus searching for shelter on the island of the Sun, on which all of Odysseus’ men were sent to their doom by Zeus for pillaging the cattle of the Sun. After that, Odysseus is swept by a storm to Ogygia, the island of the Goddess Calypso. The land of the Phaecians is his next stop and with the aid of the generous Phaecian king, Odysseus finally returns to Ithaca.


Although there is a lot of action in Odysseus’ adventures, the climax of the story is the reclaiming of Odysseus’ estate and the battle with the suitors. The main rising action is when Odysseus prepares for the surprise attack on Penelope’s suitors with Telemachus. Their entire plan was kept secret from everyone except two loyal herdsmen who would fight alongside. After the battle, the story ends with Odysseus reuniting with his family formally and Athena bringing peace to the Odysseus estate as the suitors’ family demand vengeance.


Homer is most famously recognized by his two epic poems The Iliad and The Odyssey. These two related works are distinguished by their intense and captivating actions written in non-prose form, a feat unshared by other writers. Homer has a masterful control over the chronology of an epic story that spans years yet contain a consistent parallel chain of events and subplots. His plot is also consistent with the historical basis of the actual Trojan War and the mythology of his time period. Most noticeable is the fact that after book nine of The Odyssey, the main portion of the story actually begins as a long yet entertaining flashback that is described so realistically that the reader’s imaginary abstractions take over. Perhaps Homer’s unique style of non-prose narration is a part of his Greek education and culture that is homogenous only to writers of that era’s environments that would inspire the mind and soul in a way on a scale of epic proportions.


There are several symbols employed by Homer that are very visible starting from as early as the first Book. The presence of the divine gods and goddesses symbolizes man’s inability to control his own life. Even though Odysseus eventually returns to Ithaca, his success can only be attributed to his fate as determined by the Olympians. These authoritative forces are completely uninfluenced by man yet they are the most influential forces in man’s life. In modern terms, the deities are a representation of the volatile state of man’s life. For Homer, life is never settled for sure in the mortal’s eyes, not even after the passage to the underworld. Man cannot control his life nor his society, the world asserts its claws and manipulates life as a toy.


Homer also uses the monsters in The Odyssey as indirect depictions of his ideas. The Cyclops Polyphemus, a behemoth giant, symbolizes nature’s brute force. It has the power of hundreds of men, yet it is hindered by a diminutive intelligence. Thus, Odysseus’ cunning defeat of Polyphemus proves to be the conquest of wit over strength. Homer also glorifies the evolutionary advantages of mortals’ mind over pure nature, yet Homer carefully limits this daring statement by introducing Poseidon’s vengeful punishments. Perhaps Homer has two contrasting messages about man’s abilities over nature: man can defeat nature because of his intellect, yet it is often unwise to clash against nature.


Another monster, the Sirens, is the apparent embodiment of all the deceitful temptations in man’s life. The Sirens persuade men into their traps by beautiful hypnotic songs. Once a sailor has entered their trance, his or her life is doomed to Hades. Homer shows that there are many false enticements in the world; the only way to pass these obstacles is to maintain a linear course and never deviate from a fortified moral constitution. To be persuaded by these temptations is to fall into the fatal control of others, to be used without knowing. In the story, Odysseus hears songs about Ithaca and he is filled with nostalgia at that moment, yet his men controlled the ship and steered clear of danger. Sometimes, these temptations may be so alluring that a momentary emotional outbreak occurs, yet man should never rely purely on emotions, rather, rational thinking and logic must be prioritized to prevent fatal mistakes.


One other monster, the six-headed Scylla, is the symbol of sacrifice. As Odysseus sails past the strait between Scylla and the whirlpool of Charybdis, he is forced to make a harsh decision to sail by Scylla and lose at most six sailors rather than sailing by Charybdis and lose the entire crew. It was a hard decision for Odysseus to make, yet it is the only way to save the entire crew. Homer establishes a clear message about the necessity to sacrifice in time of need despite certain unpreventable losses.


Another important symbol employed by Homer also concerns the deities. Every time a deity visits Odysseus, a mortal form is chosen and the deity’s true identity is kept secret. This disguise represents the idea that life can never by judged purely by the outlook. The true significance of things is not proportionally reflected by their material form. The suitors can also be seen as thugs in disguises of gentlemen. Even though they promise to be civil visitors in the residence of Penelope, they are truly symbols of the lowest form that men can be. Their characterizations bring up only disgust and hatred, the far extreme low point of humanity. In other terms, the manifestation of anything may either be an overstatement or an understatement of the truth. Relevant to this idea, Homer also mentions the importance of modesty and amicability. Odysseus is always humble and gracious to the people he meets, despite their stature in the world. This is one of the many characteristics of Odysseus that makes him welcomed by many. Homer’s theme may be that hospitality is one of the more honorable traits of humanity and a moral that should be shared by many.


Homer has built a myriad of symbols and themes in The Odyssey. His epic is not only an entertaining enduring literature, but an education and enlightening of the mind. The plot moves continuously from action to action, yet weaved within the twenty-four books of this poem is numerous life lessons that are invaluable to even the modern society.

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