Journey Of An Epic Hero Essay, Research Paper
The Journey of an Epic Hero
A pattern has been discovered in much of our literature, as well as in our life — that of the journey. Especially in regards to mythology, the journey goes through the following stages. The journey starts with the call to adventure. The hero may be willing or unwilling to accept the call but do to the imbalance, loss, or having something taken, missing or denied which brought the call apon them will accept his/her call. The next step in the journey is the hero is usually confronted by some form of supernatural aid that will help them in their journey. This is followed by the threshold which can be a challenge internally or externally that the hero has to conquer in order to continue on his journey. Following the threshold the hero usually encounters a helper/mentor that will give him/her assistance in their journey. After the hero finds their helper/mentor they are put through some test, trials, and ordeals which will prepare them and help them when the reach the abyss which is the next stage in their journey. The abyss in when the hero hits rock bottom and faces the greatest danger and faces this danger alone. When the hero overcomes the abyss and conquers that danger, which they had to face alone, he/she has a revelation and a transformation where they are reborn a new man. Following transformation the hero faces atonement where they are given a gift which they become richer, wiser, stronger from. After the hero has gone full circle in their journey they finally reach the return where the imbalance, loss or the some thing that was taken, missing, or denied, which call them to their journey in the first place, is reversed. Homer’s story of Odysseus falls into this classic journey pattern.
In the classic journey of Odysseus, Odysseus’ call was to return to his wife Penelope. Odysseus’ journey started when he left Penelope and his son Telemachus to go fight for Greeks in the Trojan War against Trojans from the city of Troy. This battle went on for ten long years where they solved nothing until the Greeks used the Trojan Horse to gain entrance to Troy where they then went on to defeat the Trojans. Many gods patronized the Greeks but, especially Poseidon (brother of Zeus and ruler of sea) and Athena (battle goddess and goddess of the city of Athens, Greece). After the Greeks won the war they didn’t pay tribute to the Gods for helping them. So the gods had to give the Greeks what they deserved for forgetting to give what was due to the gods. Odysseus was one of the Greeks one the ship going home when they got what they deserved. Poseidon made the waters very rough and caused a lot of storms which killed many Greeks. Fortunately Odysseus didn’t lose his life, but he did suffer and for longer than any other Greek. He suffered for the ten long years that it took him to finally get back to his family on the island of Ithaca.
In his journey Odysseus is caught in the middle of the gods/goddesses’ quarrel. Odysseus is both helped and hindered by the gods and others. In the beginning of his journey Poseidon and Athena are very angry with the Greeks and really give then what was coming but then they cool down a bit. Athena help Telemachus try to find his father Odysseus and Poseidon sides with Zeus on getting Odysseus of the island of Calypso where she had been keeping him for some time. Later though Odysseus gets caught in the wrath of Poseidon again when he had left Calypso and had been sailing for 17 days with calm water. Poseidon passed Odysseus on the way back from Ethiopia and got to thinking and realized he had not make Odysseus’ journey home long enough so he made the waters extremely rough. Because of this his raft was torn apart. Since he had been through so much Athena calmed the waves so he could swim to another deserted island where once again Athena took care of him. Poseidon and Athena made Odysseus suffer a lot for what he had done, but also helped him many times and in the end Odysseus prevailed because he finally got back his family on Ithaca.
Odysseus undergoes several ordeals before he reaches his family on Ithaca. The first trial which is also the threshold is when they reach the land of the Lotus-eaters and Odysseus and the rest of his crew is very hungry. The inhabitants gave them a flower food to eat which made the few who ate it lose their longing for home. From that land Odysseus went to the island of the cyclops where he lost some more comrades. After that island they went to the country of the winds where Odysseus meets a mentor/helper Aeolus who gives him a sack which he put all the storm winds into. Unfortunately one of Odysseus’ comrades opened the sack and the winds came out and blew them to the land of cannibals where all but one of their ships were destroyed. The next island that Odysseus and his comrades come to is Circe’s island where she turns them all of them except Odysseus into swine. Odysseus saves them with the help from another helper/mentor Hermes who gives him a drink which will make Circe’s art ineffective. From that island Odysseus learn that he must go to Hades to talk to the prophet Teiresias who would tell him how to get home. Odysseus conquers this test too. He learns he must go to the island of the sun, but not to touch any of his oxen. On the way to the island of the sun Odysseus had to go through the sea peril. Odysseus succeeded in passing it with a little help from Athena, but six of his men died. When he reaches the island of the Sun Odysseus’ men kill and eat and oxen when he wasn’t around and for that they would pay because when they left a lighting bolt hit their ship. Everyone drown except for Odysseus who clung to the keel and rode out the storm. Then he drifted for days and finally ended up on the island of Calypso where he was held captive for many years. After those many years he was let go only to have Poseidon get angry again causing a storm to wreck his raft. Over coming all the dangers Odysseus succeeded to reach the Phaeacian land. Odysseus was taken care of there and sent on his way back to Ithaca where the abyss takes place. When Odysseus reaches Ithaca he devises a plan to free his wife of the suitors. Odysseus uses this plan and fights off all the suitors and frees his wife and Ithaca of the bothersome suitors and regains his family after 20 years.
In conclusion, the result of these trials is that Odysseus has freed Ithaca and his wife from the bothersome suitors. One can assume that the atonement will be that Odysseus gets his wife and his son back after the 20 long years that he had to suffer through. I think that Odysseus, the Greeks and everyone can learn something from this story and it is that you should always respect someone when they are helping you and you should always thank them because the don’t have to help you. They are doing it out of the kindness of their heart.