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Odyssey By Homer Essay Research Paper In

Odyssey By Homer Essay, Research Paper In The Odyssey written by Homer and translated by Richard Lattimore, several themes are made evident, conceived by the nature of the time

Odyssey By Homer Essay, Research Paper

In The Odyssey written by Homer and translated by Richard Lattimore,

several themes are made evident, conceived by the nature of the time

period, and customs of the Greek people. These molded and shaped the

actual flow of events and outcomes of the poem. Beliefs of this

characteristic were represented by the sheer reverence towards the gods

and the humanities the Greek society exhibited, and are both deeply

rooted within the story.

In the intricate and well-developed plot of The Odyssey, Homer

harmonized several subjects. One of these, was the quest of Telemachos,

(titled “Telemachy”) in correlation with the journey of his father. In

this, he is developed from a childish, passive, and untested boy, to a

young man preparing to stand by his fathers side. This is directly

connected to the voyage of Odysseus, in that they both lead to the same

finale, and are both stepping stones towards wisdom, manhood, and

scholarship. Through these voyages certain parallels are drawn concerning

Odysseus and Telemachos: the physical journeys, the mental preparations

they have produced, and what their emotional status has resulted in.

These all partake a immense role in the way the story is set up, stemming

from the purpose of each character?s journey, their personal challenges,

and the difficulties that surround them.

The story commences when Odysseus, a valiant hero of the Trojan war,

journeys back home. Together with his courageous comrades, and a several

vessels, he set sail for his homeland Ithaca. Fated to wander for a full

ten years, Odysseus?s ships were immediately blown to Thrace by a

powerful storm. The expedition had begun.

Upon this misfortune, he and his men started a raid on the land of

the Cicones. However, this only provided them with temporary success. The

Cicones had struck back and defeated a vast majority of Odysseus?s crew.

This was their first of many disastrous experiences to come.

Storms then blew his ships to Libya and the land of the

Lotus-eaters, where the crew was given Lotus fruit from which most lost

their entire memories from home. Odysseus, and the others who had not

tasted it, recovered the sailors by force, and set sail again, westward,

this time to the island of the Cyclops, a wild race of one-eyed giants.

Leaving most of his men in a sheltered cove, Odysseus then entered the

island with one crew only. They wandered around, encountering, and

foolishly entering an immense cave, awaiting the owner. Moments later, a

Cyclops named Polyphemos, son of Poseidon, entered and pushed a huge

bolder covering the entrance to the cave. Upon this, he immediately ate

two sailors, and promised to eat the others in due time. The morning

came, and Polyphemos had promptly eaten two more seamen, against the will

of Zeus. Odysseus, soon realized that killing him asleep would do no good

since the mouth of the cave was still inescapable. The captain had then

devised a new plan. When Polyphemos returned that evening, Odysseus

showered the monster with wine until he had fallen under a drunken spell.

Then, with the help of his companions took a sharp pole and rammed it

into his large eye, blinding him instantaneously. As the crew sailed away

into the vast dimensions of the sea, Odysseus had unwisely revealed his

name in taunting the poor beast, boasting his excessive pride. Polyphemos

then made a prayer to his father, asking to punish the man who had caused

him this harm.

Several days later Odysseus and his men arrived at the island of

Aeolus, keeper of the winds. There, they stayed for about one month, and

departed, in sight of the long-awaited Ithaca. However, before they left,

Odysseus was presented with a container of winds, carrying each but the

needed West wind. As Ithaca approached, the crew not knowing the

contents of the “skin”, opened it up and released all of the winds,

depositing the ships back at the island of Aeolus, who refused to help

them any further.

Setting sail once again, the group headed back west, where they had

come across the Island of the Laesrtygonians, a savage race of cannibals.

Everyone, but Odysseus, lined their ships at the harbor, covered with

rocks. The entire party was attacked and eaten by the Laestrygonians, who

had bombarded them with giant boulders. Having but one vessel left,

Odysseus sailed his ship to the Island of Dawn, inhabited by the

sorceress Circe.

A group of men were sent to explore the island, who were then lured,

feasted, and the turned to swine by Circe. Knowing this Odysseus went

after her, and on his way encountered Hermes who gave him a potion to

withstand the spell. Circe tried, and then she failed. Odysseus had then

requested for his crew to be turned back to normal. She complied, and

eventually housed Odysseus and his shipmates long enough for him to

father three children. Homesick and distraught, Odysseus was then advised

by Circe to search the underworld for Teiresias, to tell him his fortune,

and how to appease Poseidon.

Odysseus agreed and made a trip to the underworld, where he

discovered many of his dead companions from Troy, and most importantly,

Teiresias. With his new knowledge, he returned to Circe, which had

provided him with just the information he needed to pass the Sirens. They

then departed from the island and continued on there journey, ears

filled with wax.

What Odysseus was about to encounter next would be a very difficult

task. He needed to direct his ship through a straight, between two

cliffs, on one side the whirlpool Charybdis, on the other, a monster

Scylla. Trying hard to avoid Charybdis Odysseus came too close to Scylla,

and six members of his ship suffered the consequences. As the journey

continued the Island of Helios stood in path. Helios was the sun-god, and

nurturer of the cattle of the gods. Knowing this, but at the same time

extraordinarily hungry, Odysseus waited for his sea-mates to fall asleep

and slaughtered several of the cattle. This was much considered a lack of

respect not only to Helios, but to the rest of the gods as well.

Zeus, angered by his gesture, struck his ship with thunder,

destroying the entire thing and killing the rest of the crew except for

Odysseus, which floated off to the Island of Ogygia, where he would there

spend the next seven years, made a lover, by the sea nymph Calypso. Upon

Poseidon?s departure to Ethiopia, Zeus had then ordered that Calypso

release Odysseus, who gave him an ax. With this, he constructed a float,

and continued his expedition. Back from his trip, Poseidon, saw Odysseus

floating in the ocean and felt compelled to drown him, which he almost

did, if it was not for the goddess Ino, who had spared him a magic veil.

He tied this to his waist, and swam to a beach where he immediately fell

asleep.

The next morning he was awoken by maidens playing ball after doing

the wash. There he saw Nausikaa, daughter of king Alkinoos. Odysseus

gently supplicated to the princess. She first took him to the inhabitants

of the island, the Phaiakians, and then Alkinoos, the king. There he

listened to Odysseus?s stories, and presented him with lavish gifts and a

furnished ship back to Ithaca. Resenting this fact, Poseidon turned the

new crew into stone for their generosity.

This is the time, nearly twenty years after his fathers departure,

Athene wisely advises the worried, and still immature Telemachos to go in

search of his father. Telemachos agrees with her orders, and before his

departure he makes it clear to the suitors (robbing his home and

proposing marriage to his mother Penelope) that he wants them all out of

his house.

He then requested a ship and twenty men, and sailed off to the

Island of Pylos. There he was immediately greeted by Nestor, in the

middle of offering 81 bulls to Poseidon. Peisistratos, son of Nestor,

then offered some intestines to Telemachos and Athene as far as

sacrificing it in hopes of a safe journey. This was ironic since in

reality, Athene was controlling his journey, and on the other hand,

moments ago, Poseidon, was in fact destroying the journey of his father.

Nestor, once seeing that his guests were finished feasting, asked of

their identities. Once he was recognized, Telemachos asked Nestor about

his father. Nestor rambled on and said nothing of real importance to

Telemachos. At this point Telemachos became pessimistic, and Athene

reassured him with an analogy of Agamemnon?s short journey, and it?s

consequences. Still emotionally unstable, Telemachos used this

opportunity to speak of Menaleus, Agamemnon?s brother.

Nestor agreed that Menaleus may be more knowledgeable that he, and

kindly provided him with a chariot, so that he could travel to Sparta to

speak with him, accompanied by Peisistratos. He arrived at Sparta two

days later, sleeping in the house of Diocles the first night, and

arriving by nightfall the second day. He reached the island just in the

middle of a double marriage ceremony of Menaleus?s daughter and son.

At this point, Homer cleverly compared Menaleus to Odysseus in the

reader?s mind by suggesting the similarities between the both in

background, and “undoubtedly” survival. He also used this scene to

emphasize Telemachos?s emotional instability as he burst out crying at

the mention of his father?s name. The night ended and Telemachos was

finally noticed to be Odysseus?s son by Helen, Menaleus?s wife. Once this

took place, he conclusively mentioned his purpose in visiting: To find

information about his father. Menaleus answered Telemachos by speaking of

his journey from Troy, and reassuring Telemachos of his father?s wit and

cleverness, and almost certain survival.

After the men finished talking, Menaleus showered him with

complements and gifts (one refused, one accepted), and then Telemachos

left, feeling good about himself once again.

After this event, the scene changes back to Ithaca where the suitors

were planning their ambush on the young prince. Telemachos went back

home, only to find out that his father had already arrived before him.

This sets Odysseus (disguised as a beggar) and Telemachos up for the big

scene against the suitors, where father and son, side by side, rid Ithaca

of its cancerous cells, and reunite the “royal” family. Odysseus then

appeased and sacrificed to the god Poseidon in the name of his

misbehavior.

As Homer makes it apparent, there are other underlying themes

embedded in the story that would just confuse the reader if they were not

there. An example of this is the emotional aspects of both characters. If

one does not understand this key element, their is no way that the

sequence of events would cohere. “Why didn?t Telemachos look for his

father earlier? Why did Penelope wait twenty years to consider

remarrying? How did this affect Odysseus in his journey?”. These are

questions that would go unanswered unless the reader reaches within the

emotions of the character.

In the case of Telemachos, his emotions shaped his well being. For

example, had it not been for Athene giving him confidence, by no means

would he ever have thought of taking such a voyage, hence, Telemachos

would have never participated in his “final test” against the suitors

either. His sorrow and anger from the loss of his father and his mother

constantly being attacked and proposed to by piranha-like suitors were

also driving forces towards his journey. Some of these are brought out in

different situations, both positive and negative, such as Menaleus?s

mention of his father, which caused a sudden out-burst of tears, and

the proud and accomplished feeling he received from leaving Sparta..

Odysseus?s situation was only slightly different. He, like

Telemachos had his worries about family-life, and his kingdom at stake,

but also had concerns about his wife, possibly triggered by the mention

of Agamemnon?s by Proteus, who was killed by the hands of his own wife.

These factors probably had taken their toll on Odysseus. At the same time

he had the wrath of Poseidon to contend with. Another factor which could

have also lead to this distress could have been his visit to the

underworld, and in his entire journey, losing friends and comrades

regularly.

The last object of these journeys and possibly the most important

to the reader, is comprehending how these travels actually led to the

final test: The battle against the suitors. This is considered the poem?s

mental perspective. Odysseus had many things to overcome before he would

be ready to take on this responsibility. His journey prepared him for

that. For one, if he had not have perfected his tolerance abroad and

finely tuned his hubris problems there would have been no possible way

for him to undertake a role such as the beggar, where he must be

constantly enduring both verbal and physical attacks. There is also no

way that Odysseus could have sacrificed and begged forgiveness to the

sea-god Poseidon if he had not learned his lesson about respect from

Polyphemos and Zeus (eating Helios?s cattle). These factors play an

immense role in the outcome of the poem. If it had not been for these

events, the story could never have taken place.

The same circumstances applied for Telemachos as well. His goal was

to reach a level of adulthood and to stand by his father?s side, to

mature into a man, and most importantly to gain respect, and to withhold

and protect family kleos. This happened when at first Athene inspired him

to go in search of his father. At that stage he was an inactive, and

boyish young prince. When the challenges rose, however (assisted by

Athene), Telemachos rose to meet those challenges. His first items of

business were to set the suitors straight at home. Although he was not

completely effective, he surprised them a great deal with his authority,

and even his own mother in later books. That proved that Telemachos was

gaining a new awareness, not only about his father, but about the

kingdom, his mother, and the role he needed to partake. By the end of his

long emotional journey, Telemachos realized what it took to be a man,

which could not have been possible without his escapades to Pylos and

Sparta.

In The Odyssey, Homer created a parallel for readers, between

Odysseus and Telemachos, father and son. Telemachos was supposedly

learning the role of his father, the king of Ithaca, to follow in the

footsteps. The two are compared in the poem from every aspect. However,

in analyzing The Odyssey, one may also presume that Homer had not

intended for the Telemachos to be as great a hero as his father. This may

be due to the fact that, for example, he never had a Trojan War to fight,

his setting is in a time of peace unlike his father?s, and more notably-

although matured, Telemachus never really learned true leadership or

chivalry as did his father. Homer has presented the world with poetry so

unique and classic, so outstanding and awesome, that generations to come

will challenge themselves interpreting them until the end of time.

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