Essay Preview: The Odyssey
Report this essay
The Odyssey is one of the two great epic poems written by the ancient Greek poet Homer. Due to its antiquity, it is not known when or where it was first written, nevertheless, the approximate date and place is 700 BC Greece. Later publications are widespread as the text is transcribed in modern English with no deviation from the original story.
The story is set in the lands and seas in close proximity to Greece changing by books as Odysseus, the protagonist hero, recounts of his many fated adventures and misfortunes in a series of flashbacks. Odysseus, a survivor of the bloody Trojan War that left many Greek heroes dead and a city plundered, yearns to return Ithaca and his wife Penelope, who is solicited by countless suitors, yet due to an accidental grievance done to the God of Sea, Poseidon, Odysseus is plagued by misfortunes and spend nearly ten years traveling the seas searching a path home.
The Odyssey is written in the third person omniscient perspective, perhaps the only voice capable of integrating Homers usage of the Gods and the supernatural. This perspective shifts as necessary to give the reader a full understanding of Odysseus journeys. In fact, without incorporating the supernatural forces, there would be no way of understanding why Odysseus is met with such inhospitality from certain Gods or constructing a majestic recount of the actions in the plot.
Odysseus is the classic Greek hero by all standards. He is a hardened warrior who has fought against the Trojans, a dutiful husband who would journey years to return home, a cunning wayfarer who fares well with any host hostile or amicable, and a mortal in bipolar relation with the Gods. He may be the protagonist, yet as a mortal, he is only a servant to the Greek Gods. Poseidon has a bitter grudge against Odysseus for blinding the Cyclopes Polyphemus, yet Homer balances Odysseus fate by giving him the aid of the Goddess Athena. Thus, Odysseus fortunes and misfortunes are all the deeds and misdeeds of the Gods, and the protagonist is subject to his fate as determined by the supernatural. Homers implications about the life and fate of a man could be easily recapitulated as uncontrollable. Though the Greek Gods do not exist, mans fortunes and misfortunes still contain unexplainable entropy, leaving mortals with no precise knowledge or grasp of their future yet mortals do have an unfailing sense of hope, just as Odysseus is determined to return home despite his foes and hardships.
Odysseus wife Penelope is also an important character in the story despite the fact that Homer only writes in fragments about her. Without any news of Odysseus after the end of the Trojan War, she is treated as a widow and wooed by many soliciting men from the neighboring area. Homer has characterized her with an unfailing constitution and loyalty to Odysseus. She fends off the suitors with her cleverness, exemplified by her pretentious indecisive publicized to all the suitors, and waits desperately for Odysseus for indefinite years. Penelope is seen as stubborn in the eyes of her lovers, yet, unbeknownst to these men, her loyalty will be awarded when the Gods finally return Odysseus back to her as according to his fate. The Goddess Athena also favors her and help guides her faith despite the pressure of the suitors and Odysseuss years away. Homer has fictionalized Penelope with the necessary traits that make an ideal wife in Greek times. She is imbued with unyielding character, quick wit, and lasting beauty.
Athena is a prominent figure of the plot. According to Greek mythology, she is the daughter of Zeus, King of gods and men, and the goddess of wisdom and battle. As with many feminine supernatural figures in The Odyssey, she has a predilection for Odysseus and would watch over him passively throughout the plot. Homer has underscored her aid to Odysseus to counterbalance the weakening brought upon him by Poseidon. This careful equilibrium of heavenly forces is the constant recurring element in the plot that keeps Odysseus alive yet suffering at the same time. Her appearances in the plot are often under the disguise of mortal figures, mystifying her true identity as a goddess to all, yet she does reveal herself to Odysseus at several points, which shows a deep favorability that Homer protrudes to glorify Odysseus.
Telemachus is the son of Odysseus who has lived for twenty years without seeing his father. His role, as the protector of his mother, is part of the parallel subplot that Homer creates in Ithaca. Since most of Odysseus adventures are told as flashbacks in his last journey in the land of the Phaeacians before finally returning home, the chronological order of events match up to Telemachus first sea journey searching for news of his father. His journey is minor and obscured by the heroic proportions of Odysseus journey, nevertheless, Homer uses this subplot to prepare for the reuniting of Odysseus with his family and the climax as Odysseus lead Telemachus in battle against the suitors. Homer illustrates Telemachus in the same fashion as Odysseus with a minimized range of heroism, the same method as most protÐ¹gÐ¹s are described.
The plot of The Odyssey is mainly a chain of events as described by Odysseus as he retells his story to his Phaecian hosts. The chain of events starts with his unfortunate landing in the Land of the Lotus Eaters after leaving the shores of Troy. Briefly after that, Odysseus lands on the island of the Cyclops and thus deepen Poseidons grudge against him after the blinding of his son Polyphemus. After that, Odysseus spends a year as the unfortunate prisoner of the beautiful witch Circe. Circe eventually allows Odysseus to leave and he continues past the tempting Sirens to Hades, the land of the dead, to consult Tiresias, the dead prophet whose guidance can send Odysseus to the right direction. Another unfortunate incident with the sea monster Scylla, a six headed beast that consumed six of Odysseus sailors, left Odysseus searching for shelter on the island of the Sun, on which all of Odysseus men were sent to their doom by Zeus for pillaging the cattle of the Sun. After that, Odysseus is swept by a storm to Ogygia, the island of the Goddess Calypso. The land of the Phaecians is his next stop and with the aid of the generous Phaecian king, Odysseus finally returns to Ithaca.
Although there is a lot of action in Odysseus adventures, the climax of the story is the reclaiming of Odysseus estate and the battle with the suitors. The main rising action is when Odysseus prepares for the surprise attack on Penelopes suitors with Telemachus. Their entire plan was kept secret from everyone except two loyal herdsmen