Love, A Hero’s Conquest Essay, Research Paper
Love, A hero’s Conquest
There are many essential emotions that form the building blocks of our lives. These emotions help to shape the people that we are. These feelings are emotional necessities to ultimately keep us happy. No piece of literature makes these feelings more evident than the Odyssey by Homer. Throughout the course of this book there is one major emotional theme: love.
Often times in life we search for a companion, someone to share our love and life with. Odysseus and Penelope’s lasting relationship is an obvious representation of love in the Odyssey. Although Odysseus is gone for twenty years he never forgets his faithful wife in Ithaca. This love helps him persevere through the many hardships that he encounters on his journey home. Penelope also exemplifies this same kind of love for Odysseus. At home in Ithaca, she stays loyal to Odysseus by unraveling his shroud and delaying her marriage to the suitors that are courting her. She always keeps the hope that her love, Odysseus, will return. Odysseus and Penelope’s marriage clearly illustrates the theme of love.
The Odyssey also illustrates other relationships where love is of great importance – one of the most emphasized is the father-son relationship between Odysseus and Telemachos. This relationship is a little awkward because neither of them really got to know each other but they still care for each other’s well being. When Odysseus hears of all the suitors devouring Telemachos’s future fortune and mistreating him, he wants to return and revenge the misuse of his family and property. Odysseus, like any parent, also misses his only child while he is at war. Telemachos on the contrary also displays a lot of love for his father. Telemachos leaves Ithaca, to find any knowledge of his father in hope that he is still alive. Telemachos through out most of his life has lacked a father figure and desperately needs that special help and guidance from Odysseus as he becomes a man. Their relationship seems to show how love can give you the strength to carry on.
The other important father-son relationship that exhibits love is the one between Odysseus and Laertes. Odysseus, when he returns, wishes to go see his father. When he confronts his father and tries to hide his identity, he is unable to finish his story because of the great sorrow in his father’s eyes. This shows how much he loves his father and what great suffering he caused him. This anguish that Laertes exhibits also shows how much love he has for his son. Since Odysseus was assumed to be dead, it sent Laertes into a sort of depression. When Odysseus returned it gave Laetes an overwhelming happiness. This is a case where love seems to be the cure for pain and grief.
It does seem odd though, when you look at the relationship between Odysseus and Penelope, because you wonder, if he really loved her why did he fool around so much when he was away? From the beginning it is clear that Penelope has would-be suitors who are strongly urging her to marry one of them, now that her husband has apparently dies or deserted her. But she fends them off while Odysseus is away, proving herself loyal to Odysseus. He does not do the same though. We have Odysseus’ run in with Calypso, a beautiful sea nymph who tries to make Odysseus her husband. She holds him captive for nine years, he stays with her for nine whole years! She even offers him immortality if he will stay her. Finally, word from Zeus comes via Hermes and he is released, but Odysseus did not make much of an effort to get off the island and return to his wife. We also have Odysseus’ encounter with Circe. The enchantress transforms his crew into swine when he lands on her island. She discovers that she can not conquer Odysseus though, so she takes him as her lover for a year before she sends him on his way. Odysseus runs into several difficult situations on his way home, thus making it hard for a woman in Penelope’s position to accept him with open arms when he returns and tells his stories. Granted she would understand that Odysseus did what he had to do, that does not mean that she is going to be happy about it.
An interesting thing that happens towards the end of his journey is when Odysseus reaches Ithaca and decides that he is not sure whether or not Penelope is trustworthy. With the assistance of Eumaios, he disguises himself and enters his house as a beggar to see what is happening there. He discovers that Penelope’s suitors are behaving insolently, feasting at her expense and mistreating her guests. Odysseus is himself insulted and struck by them, when they think he is a mere beggar. Assisted by his son Telemachus, as well as Eumaios and Philoetius, Odysseus wins the competition that Penelope created to decide her suitor and then cleverly disarms the suitors and destroys all 120 or so of them in a fierce bloody battle.
Still, he has not yet proved that Penelope is trustworthy, and equally important, she is not sure that she can trust him. Many men have claimed to be her husband over the last twenty years, so how is she to know that this is not another imposter? And if this really is Odysseus, why has he remained away for so long, and what is he like after all these years. You can see the situation that both are put into. But loves wins in the end and they are reunited happily as Odysseus gains control of Ithaca.
The emotion of love is made very apparent in The Odyssey. Not only between man and woman, but also father and son. Both are equally strong and are represented with equal importance. A true hero is able to find love in any situation, just like Odysseus.