Abraham And Odysseus The Journeys Begin Essay, Research Paper
Abraham and Odysseus are two men of two different eras, yet they both have a common goal. This common goal which links the two men together is to get to their ultimate destination; whether it is Odysseus journey to his native land or Abraham’s journey to the land God promised him. On the way both suffer hardships on their own accounts; whether it was Odysseus arrogance to his gods or Abraham’s defiance to God’s will. After they both have struggled on their journey and faced much tribulation, they both come to face with the error of their ways and in the end after learning a few important lessons they succeed in their goal.
Odysseus, king of Ithaca has been away many years from the land he loves, the wife he cares for, and the son he never knew (Homer 2). Meanwhile back at Odysseus estate, men who would call themselves heroes, noblemen, and even friends of Odysseus wreak havoc upon his estate and household. Telemachus, neither yet a man nor quite being a boy, tries as he might to begot the evil men, but Telemachus tries so in vein. Telemachus is at his wits end when a mysterious stranger arrives at his gate: he then invites his guest in. At this time guests were treated and greeted as if they were a god no matter what their physical appearance may be, for gods would often dress as beggars and seek refuge at ones home in order to test them (Homer 3). Little does Telemachus know that at this point a new chapter in his life is about to unfold before his eyes. Little also does this humble man Abraham know what God has in plan for him, that God will make him the father of a great nation. This stranger unknown to Telemachus is really the goddess Minerva; she has come to this child of Odysseus with information that will set him upon his own journey. After Telemachus and the stranger to his household have eaten, she gives him information that is needed to set him down his own path. The information this visitor has given Telemachus confirms what he has believed: that his father Odysseus is still alive. “But now the the storm-winds have spirited him away we know not whither” (Homer 5).
Not far off in the past, we have our friend Abraham who has just received a message from God telling him to leave his native land for the land of Canaan. The land of Canaan is the land that God promised to Abraham and where he would have his great nation of descendants born. Abraham leaves with his wife Sarah and on the way to the land God promised them they travel through the great land of Egypt. Abraham knowing that his wife is quite lovely asks her to pose as his sister. Abraham believing that they would kill him in order to have his wife. The Pharaoh of Egypt seeing that she is fair and thinking that she is Abraham’s sister begets her as his wife. After many plagues upon his household and finding out who she really is, the angry Pharaoh sends them on their way out of Egypt. This is similar to how Minerva appeared to Telemachus and set him on his own journey.
At first Telemachus doubts what this stranger has to say, but after she is finished he is now more than ever convinced that his father is still alive. Abraham also at first doubts what God has to say, but in the end he believes him and rejoices. After the stranger leaves Telemachus warns the suitors that his father, the great warrior Odysseus, is coming and will punish them for their evil deeds (Homer 8). He warns them, yet none pay this man-child’s words any heed. Although Telemachus tried himself to throw the evil suitors out he failed every time.
The question that arises from these incidents is whether Telemachus is a man or a coward. Telemachus, having grown up without a father to guide him through his years of boyhood, was never really given the chance to grow up to be a man. None the less, he tries to throw out the suitors and set himself on the right path (Homer 11). Abraham as well is having troubles of his own on account of his own actions.
While these events take place, Odysseus is trapped on the island of the nymph, Calypso. Odysseus cries and seeks pity from Calypso to enable him to return to his homeland, yet she simply refuses him from leaving (Homer 15). Why, you ask would a goddess want to keep a mere mortal man and make him immortal? The simple answer is that she loved Odysseus with all her heart, though he did not share these feelings, she kept trying to make him love her, yet she failed. Finally after some persuading on Minerva’s part, the gods agree to let our hero go, Neptune who was not informed as to their decision decides to have a little fun at Odysseus expense (Homer 18).
Oh o long Odysseus has desired to be set free and finally, with great shock, he finds that the goddess will let him go, and that she plans on keeping her word. She provides him a warm wind, and he sails away into the horizon on a raft that he constructed (Homer 20). Not long after he sets out he I caught in a storm created by Neptune, for he is enraged at this mortal for having blinded his son. While Odysseus is happy to be on his way home at last, he begins to think that maybe it was a better idea to stay with Calypso (Homer 21). “I am afraid that Calypso was right when she said I should have trouble by the sea before I got home” (Homer 22). This is witness to the fact that although Odysseus is a brave man who wanted nothing more than to return to his family, even he is not immune to the effects of temptation and lust. After passing this thought out of his mind, our hero is content to be on the way to the only woman he has ever truly loved and the land of his boyhood. After Abraham’s ordeal in Egypt he and his wife Sarah are also more than happy to be back on their way to Canaan.
Neptune, being mad at Odysseus, decides he will have a little fun with him, for he may not kill him but he can make living worse than death! “However Minerva, has decided to assist Odysseus, so she bound the ways of the winds except one, and made them lie quite still” (Homer 24). She roused a good stiff breeze from the North that should lay the water till Odysseus reached the land of the Phaeacians where he would be safe. Odysseus sees land in the distance and swims for it, Neptune still being angry with him pounds Odysseus with huge waves and smashes him against huge cliffs, but thanks to Minerva and the gift of a goddess he comes to beach beaten but alive (Homer 25). There the princess of the land and her maids find him and take him to her father, king Alcinous.
While he is at the house of the mighty king, he tells the stories of his many journeys (Homer 28). They do not believe him at first, but at the end of his sad story; the kind knows what this man has said is no lie. Odysseus tells them of his visit to Hades, his blinding of the son of Neptune, and many other wonderful stories. Finally after many days of detainment our hero is finally on his way home! Before Odysseus leaves the king have many rich men give Odysseus wonderful presents. “Alderman and town councilors, our guest seem to be a person of singular judgement; let us give such proof of our hospitality as he may reasonably expect.” (Homer 30) Odysseus then sets sail once more, towards his beloved Ithaca. Abraham, on the other hand, finally sets himself on the proper path God has set before him and continues his journey onward.
At last Odysseus, king of Ithaca has returned to his native land, bearing many fine presents indeed, but goddess Minerva is not yet through with him, and she has him go through a few more trials. She has Odysseus take on the appearance of an old man, he is then set out to beg at the doors of his own palace; only his dear son knows who his is, for she saw fit for him to know. At his palace Odysseus disguised as the evil suitors treat the old man as a piece of trash, and he quickly plots how to take his ultimate revenge.
At last, Penelope, wife of Odysseus accepts the belief that her husband is dead and she plans a contest for her hand in marriage. The winner of the contest would be the man who could shoot an arrow from Odysseus bow cleanly through the bottom of twelve battle-axes! All the suitors try, yet none can accomplish such a task; none but an old man, weak and frail, who manages to win the contest despite the odds! Odysseus is then uncloaked from his mask of wrinkles, he then, with the aid of his son, slays these men and their lovers in the great hall.
After having disobeyed God and being set on the strait path, Abraham makes it to the land God promised him, where he would fulfill what God had told him. Odysseus, after having such a journey and having slain the evil suitors, re-takes his throne, having learned many important values along the way. It is important to see what allowed these men to get through, while their journeys were both different, it was their faith that guided them to their journey’s end.