Odyssey Essay, Research Paper
In the epic novel of The Odyssey by Homer, the protagonist, Odysseus, display s the best example of a folktale hero. He isn t the son of any God or any supernatural being, and also he does not posses any immortal qualities. A call to an adventurous journey is what later on turns him into a hero. He goes through a 20 year journey fighting against monsters and gods trying to return to his home.
In the beginning of the novel Odysseus is the King of Ithaca, a small island near Greece. The Greek, Achaeans, are going into war against the Trojans which later became the famous Trojan Wars. Odysseus has a call to adventure because he is asked to help the Achaeans fight the Trojans. At first he rejects the call because his wife, Penelope, is pregnant and is about to deliver her first son, Telemakhos. After thinking about this for a long time he decides to go and asks Athena, goddess of war and wisdom, to help him in his journey and to take care of his family in exchange he promises to secure a victory for her.
The journey begins and Odysseus is on his way to Troja. In this battle he met great Greek heroes such as Achilles, Ajax, and King Agamemnon. In the war the Greek are not gaining any ground since they can t enter the main city of Troja because it is covered by a huge wall. Athena appears and tells Odysseus to build a giant horse and make every soldier get inside. After they do this the Trojans see the statue of the horse as a gift and take it in the city. That night while everyone was asleep all the Greeks got out of the horse and destroyed the city to end the war. That was Odysseus first trial which he resolved with great wisdom. This ended the 10 year war.
Back home Penelope was already taking care of his son Telemakhos. After waiting ten years she saw that all the soldiers started to arrive except Odysseus. As a result to this many suitors came to marry Penelope because of her beauties and wealth but she denied since she knew her husband was not dead. Back in Troja Odysseus got on a ship but little did he know that his ship wouldn t take him to Ithaca but instead to an island were Polyphemus lived. Polyphemus was the son of Poseidon. He was a one-eyed monster who lived in the island and ate anything that walked. When Odysseus and his men arrived he captured them and held them hostage. Everyday he would eat his crew and everyone asked Odysseus to do something, and he did. Odysseus tricked the Cyclops into drinking wine. After the giant was drunk he told him his name was Nobody and when the monster was almost totally asleep Odysseus and his men stabbed a very sharp stick into his only eye. When they escaped out came the giant to tell the other Cyclops. When they asked him who did it he answered by saying that Nobody did it. This showed his wisdom once again. It seemed that wisdom was Odysseus greatest characteristic.
Even though Odysseus fooled the Cyclops he did not fool his father, Poseidon. Poseidon decided that Odysseus should be punished and be lost for another ten years in the sea. This is where the road of trials begin for Odysseus. Odysseus and his men are taken to the island of Circe, a minor goddess and sorceress who lives on Earth. She is turning all his men into animals so Odysseus decides to confront her. On the way to her palace he meets a messenger of the gods that tells him how to resist Circe s beauty. Circe is one of the women who serve as temptress to Odysseus. After he defeats her she brings back his men to life and gives them food and shelter for a year.
After this Odysseus gets an ultimate blessing which is that he can travel to Hades (land of the dead) to meet a spirit of a prophet, Teiresias, who will tell him how to get home. He warns him that on his way sirens will try to tempt him and his men. Odysseus orders his men not to hear the sirens songs. Sirens serve as another temptress. As they re passing the sirens some of his men can t resist and throw themselves overboard and die. When Poseidon learns that Odysseus knows how to get home he sends Scylla, a six-headed sea monster, which destroys his ship and kills all his remaining crew.
Odysseus then arrives shipwrecked to an island only to find another woman as temptress, Calypso. Calypso is another minor goddess who lives on Earth. She does not mean evil but Odysseus falls so in love with her he stays there seven years. At this point Odysseus does not wish to return to Ithaca because he is happy with Calypso, but once again the gods tell Calypso she must release him. This message from the gods serve as a sort of rescue from without. So Calypso releases him, gives him a ship and tells him where to sail. Odysseus arrives at Phaeacia where King Alkinoos takes him finally back to his home in Ithaca.
Once he arrives in Ithaca he has one more last threshold to solve which is that the suitors are all there and they don t want to leave. But once again Odysseus wisdom comes into play and he disguises himself as an old man and with the help of his son kills all the suitors and all the servants that weren t loyal to him. He kills the suitors with his bow which only he could tie the rope to, which was because he mastered the arts of war. At this point he reencounters Penelope and can finally rest in his palace in Ithaca with his son and his servants after 20 long years of absence. He does not forget to thank Athena at the end of all this. This is where he finally gets the freedom to live!
Odysseus is no more than a simple man who is asked to help his country by fighting in a war. Even though he has a family that needs him he decides to help his country. He does not posses any immortal qualities or supernatural strength. Instead he possesses wisdom. A quality not many people notice or even pay attention to but as this novel shows wisdom could be the best quality any hero could have. Odysseus did not defeat any monster or problem with strengths but instead he used his wisdom and never forgot to thank his gods because like the old proverb says, a snake never forgets its hole . Two messages are left by the story: never forget to thank for any kind of help you get even if it does not help you very much, and always remember that wisdom may a better quality than strength or size.