Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Odyssey

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The Odyssey

A man, a husband, a father, a soldier, a hero, whose heart is full of love and longing to be with his family faced the perilous journey with the determination to be reunited with his wife and son he had not seen in twenty years. A faithful wife who waits year after year for her husband’s return used her wits to keep her suitors away. A son, who was a toddler when his father left, grew up to love and respect him and could wait no longer for his return so he set out on a dangerous journey in search of his father. This is Homer’s story, poem, and song, “The Odyssey”, a portrait of a hero, a Greek soldier, Odysseus, in trouble.

The style Homer used to captivate his audience is in the way the story is presented. It was written a very long time ago when men believed in myths and gods and fairies. Men would pray to the gods and make their sacrifices to appease the gods, “….black bulls were being offered by the people to the blue-manned god who makes the islands tremble.”(p.77). King Nestor was having a religious ritual, in honor of the sea god Poseidon. This poem is sometimes being told in a song-like fashion, “Sing in me, Muse, and through me tell the story of that man skilled in all ways….” The singers will also give hints about how the story is going to end. Homer also used figures of speech to hold his audience interest. He compared heroic events to simple everyday events that the audience would easily grasp. “….What if his great father came from the unknown world and drove these men like dead leaves through the place …”

The quest of Odysseus to find of a way out of his troubles and finding his way home, and the quest of his son, Telemachus, to find his father to help him our of his troubles, give the structure of this story. The story starts with Telemachus, at age 0; he was frustrated with his mother’s suitors. He was threatened in his own home by these powerful men who want to rob him of his inheritance, of his mother, and his self- respect. He dreamed of his father’s return to help them regain respect and dignity. With the help of the goddess Athena he started his journey in search of his father. He was sent from place to place for news of his father. He was told glorified war stories of his father.

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Meanwhile, Odysseus was also helped by the god Zeus to start on his journey back home. Odysseus’s journey back home was a dangerous one. Like his son, he was sent from one place to another with instructions on how to continue his journey. His greatest enemy was the god Poseidon, the god of the sea, who is known to be arrogant and cruel. Odysseus, in a confrontation with Cyclops, Poseidon’s son, blinded him in an effort for him and his men to escape from his cave. Poseidon could not forgive him for that. Odyssey is in some ways like Poseidon. He too is arrogant. “O Cyclops! Would you feast on my companions? Puny, am I, in a Cavemen’s hands? How do you like the beating that we gave you…..?”. Here, he is baiting Cyclops; know he might have to pay a hard price for his outburst. Odysseus lost all of his men but his life was spared. Due to the help from all the gods, father and son eventually met and the reconstruction of the family begun.

Odysseus love for his family and their love for him prevailed. It was like good overcoming evil. The good being the gods that protect and guide him, and the evil represented by Poseidon and those that obstruct his journey back home. His son, Telemachus also learned from his journey. By the time he returned home, he became a man.

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