The Journey Of Odysseus Essay, Research Paper
The Journey of Odysseus and TelemachosIn The Odyssey written by Homer and translated by Richard Lattimore,several themes are made evident, conceived by the nature of the timeperiod, and customs of the Greek people. These molded and shaped theactual flow of events and outcomes of the poem. Beliefs of thischaracteristic were represented by the sheer reverence towards the godsand the humanities the Greek society exhibited, and are both deeplyrooted within the story. In the intricate and well-developed plot of The Odyssey, Homerharmonized several subjects. One of these, was the quest of Telemachos,(titled “Telemachy”) in correlation with the journey of his father. Inthis, he is developed from a childish, passive, and untested boy, to ayoung man preparing to stand by his fathers side. This is directlyconnected to the voyage of Odysseus, in that they both lead to the samefinale, and are both stepping stones towards wisdom, manhood, andscholarship. Through these voyages certain parallels are drawn concerningOdysseus and Telemachos: the physical journeys, the mental preparationsthey have produced, and what their emotional status has resulted in.These all partake a immense role in the way the story is set up, stemmingfrom 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 severalvessels, he set sail for his homeland Ithaca. Fated to wander for a fullten years, Odysseus s ships were immediately blown to Thrace by apowerful storm. The expedition had begun. Upon this misfortune, he and his men started a raid on the land ofthe Cicones. However, this only provided them with temporary success. TheCicones 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 theLotus-eaters, where the crew was given Lotus fruit from which most losttheir entire memories from home. Odysseus, and the others who had nottasted 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 theisland with one crew only. They wandered around, encountering, andfoolishly entering an immense cave, awaiting the owner. Moments later, aCyclops named Polyphemos, son of Poseidon, entered and pushed a hugebolder covering the entrance to the cave. Upon this, he immediately atetwo sailors, and promised to eat the others in due time. The morningcame, and Polyphemos had promptly eaten two more seamen, against the willof Zeus. Odysseus, soon realized that killing him asleep would do no goodsince the mouth of the cave was still inescapable. The captain had thendevised a new plan. When Polyphemos returned that evening, Odysseusshowered 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 itinto his large eye, blinding him instantaneously. As the crew sailed awayinto the vast dimensions of the sea, Odysseus had unwisely revealed hisname in taunting the poor beast, boasting his excessive pride. Polyphemosthen made a prayer to his father, asking to punish the man who had causedhim this harm. Several days later Odysseus and his men arrived at the island ofAeolus, keeper of the winds. There, they stayed for about one month, anddeparted, in sight of the long-awaited Ithaca. However, before they left,Odysseus was presented with a container of winds, carrying each but theneeded West wind. As Ithaca approached, the crew not knowing thecontents of the “skin”, opened it up and released all of the winds,depositing the ships back at the island of Aeolus, who refused to helpthem any further. Setting sail once again, the group headed back west, where they hadcome across the Island of the Laesrtygonians, a savage race of cannibals.Everyone, but Odysseus, lined their ships at the harbor, covered withrocks. The entire party was attacked and eaten by the Laestrygonians, whohad bombarded them with giant boulders. Having but one vessel left, Odysseus sailed his ship to the Island of Dawn, inhabited by thesorceress 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 wentafter her, and on his way encountered Hermes who gave him a potion towithstand the spell. Circe tried, and then she failed. Odysseus had thenrequested for his crew to be turned back to normal. She complied, andeventually housed Odysseus and his shipmates long enough for him tofather three children. Homesick and distraught, Odysseus was then advisedby 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 hediscovered many of his dead companions from Troy, and most importantly,Teiresias. With his new knowledge, he returned to Circe, which hadprovided him with just the information he needed to pass the Sirens. Theythen departed from the island and continued on there journey, earsfilled with wax. What Odysseus was about to encounter next would be a very difficulttask. He needed to direct his ship through a straight, between twocliffs, on one side the whirlpool Charybdis, on the other, a monsterScylla. Trying hard to avoid Charybdis Odysseus came too close to Scylla,and six members of his ship suffered the consequences. As the journeycontinued the Island of Helios stood in path. Helios was the sun-god, andnurturer of the cattle of the gods. Knowing this, but at the same timeextraordinarily hungry, Odysseus waited for his sea-mates to fall asleepand slaughtered several of the cattle. This was much considered a lack ofrespect 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 forOdysseus, which floated off to the Island of Ogygia, where he would therespend the next seven years, made a lover, by the sea nymph Calypso. UponPoseidon s departure to Ethiopia, Zeus had then ordered that Calypsorelease Odysseus, who gave him an ax. With this, he constructed a float,and continued his expedition. Back from his trip, Poseidon, saw Odysseusfloating in the ocean and felt compelled to drown him, which he almostdid, 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 fellasleep. The next morning he was awoken by maidens playing ball after doingthe wash. There he saw Nausikaa, daughter of king Alkinoos. Odysseusgently supplicated to the princess. She first took him to the inhabitantsof the island, the Phaiakians, and then Alkinoos, the king. There helistened to Odysseus s stories, and presented him with lavish gifts and afurnished ship back to Ithaca. Resenting this fact, Poseidon turned thenew 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 insearch of his father. Telemachos agrees with her orders, and before hisdeparture he makes it clear to the suitors (robbing his home andproposing marriage to his mother Penelope) that he wants them all out ofhis house. He then requested a ship and twenty men, and sailed off to theIsland of Pylos. There he was immediately greeted by Nestor, in themiddle of offering 81 bulls to Poseidon. Peisistratos, son of Nestor,then offered some intestines to Telemachos and Athene as far assacrificing it in hopes of a safe journey. This was ironic since inreality, 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 oftheir identities. Once he was recognized, Telemachos asked Nestor abouthis father. Nestor rambled on and said nothing of real importance toTelemachos. At this point Telemachos became pessimistic, and Athenereassured him with an analogy of Agamemnon s short journey, and it sconsequences. Still emotionally unstable, Telemachos used thisopportunity to speak of Menaleus, Agamemnon s brother. Nestor agreed that Menaleus may be more knowledgeable that he, andkindly provided him with a chariot, so that he could travel to Sparta tospeak with him, accompanied by Peisistratos. He arrived at Sparta twodays later, sleeping in the house of Diocles the first night, andarriving by nightfall the second day. He reached the island just in themiddle of a double marriage ceremony of Menaleus s daughter and son. At this point, Homer cleverly compared Menaleus to Odysseus in thereader s mind by suggesting the similarities between the both inbackground, and “undoubtedly” survival. He also used this scene toemphasize Telemachos s emotional instability as he burst out crying atthe mention of his father s name. The night ended and Telemachos wasfinally noticed to be Odysseus s son by Helen, Menaleus s wife. Once thistook place, he conclusively mentioned his purpose in visiting: To findinformation about his father. Menaleus answered Telemachos by speaking ofhis journey from Troy, and reassuring Telemachos of his father s wit andcleverness, and almost certain survival. After the men finished talking, Menaleus showered him withcomplements and gifts (one refused, one accepted), and then Telemachosleft, feeling good about himself once again. After this event, the scene changes back to Ithaca where the suitorswere planning their ambush on the young prince. Telemachos went backhome, only to find out that his father had already arrived before him.This sets Odysseus (disguised as a beggar) and Telemachos up for the bigscene against the suitors, where father and son, side by side, rid Ithacaof its cancerous cells, and reunite the “royal” family. Odysseus thenappeased and sacrificed to the god Poseidon in the name of hismisbehavior. As Homer makes it apparent, there are other underlying themesembedded in the story that would just confuse the reader if they were notthere. An example of this is the emotional aspects of both characters. Ifone does not understand this key element, their is no way that thesequence of events would cohere. “Why didn t Telemachos look for hisfather earlier? Why did Penelope wait twenty years to considerremarrying? How did this affect Odysseus in his journey?”. These arequestions that would go unanswered unless the reader reaches within theemotions of the character. In the case of Telemachos, his emotions shaped his well being. Forexample, had it not been for Athene giving him confidence, by no meanswould he ever have thought of taking such a voyage, hence, Telemachoswould have never participated in his “final test” against the suitorseither. His sorrow and anger from the loss of his father and his motherconstantly being attacked and proposed to by piranha-like suitors werealso driving forces towards his journey. Some of these are brought out indifferent situations, both positive and negative, such as Menaleus smention of his father, which caused a sudden out-burst of tears, andthe proud and accomplished feeling he received from leaving Sparta.. Odysseus s situation was only slightly different. He, likeTelemachos had his worries about family-life, and his kingdom at stake,but also had concerns about his wife, possibly triggered by the mentionof 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 timehe had the wrath of Poseidon to contend with. Another factor which couldhave also lead to this distress could have been his visit to theunderworld, and in his entire journey, losing friends and comradesregularly. The last object of these journeys and possibly the most importantto the reader, is comprehending how these travels actually led to thefinal test: The battle against the suitors. This is considered the poem smental perspective. Odysseus had many things to overcome before he wouldbe ready to take on this responsibility. His journey prepared him forthat. For one, if he had not have perfected his tolerance abroad andfinely tuned his hubris problems there would have been no possible wayfor him to undertake a role such as the beggar, where he must beconstantly enduring both verbal and physical attacks. There is also noway that Odysseus could have sacrificed and begged forgiveness to thesea-god Poseidon if he had not learned his lesson about respect fromPolyphemos and Zeus (eating Helios s cattle). These factors play animmense role in the outcome of the poem. If it had not been for theseevents, the story could never have taken place. The same circumstances applied for Telemachos as well. His goal wasto reach a level of adulthood and to stand by his father s side, tomature into a man, and most importantly to gain respect, and to withholdand protect family kleos. This happened when at first Athene inspired himto go in search of his father. At that stage he was an inactive, andboyish young prince. When the challenges rose, however (assisted byAthene), Telemachos rose to meet those challenges. His first items ofbusiness were to set the suitors straight at home. Although he was notcompletely effective, he surprised them a great deal with his authority,and even his own mother in later books. That proved that Telemachos wasgaining a new awareness, not only about his father, but about thekingdom, his mother, and the role he needed to partake. By the end of hislong emotional journey, Telemachos realized what it took to be a man,which could not have been possible without his escapades to Pylos andSparta. In The Odyssey, Homer created a parallel for readers, betweenOdysseus and Telemachos, father and son. Telemachos was supposedlylearning the role of his father, the king of Ithaca, to follow in thefootsteps. The two are compared in the poem from every aspect. However,in analyzing The Odyssey, one may also presume that Homer had notintended for the Telemachos to be as great a hero as his father. This maybe 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 orchivalry as did his father. Homer has presented the world with poetry sounique and classic, so outstanding and awesome, that generations to comewill challenge themselves interpreting them until the end of time.