Homer: Moods, Shared Great Events, Remembrance of the Greatness of Tales Told/Remembered
All odysseys tell the story of a great adventure; in-fact the word odyssey literally defines as a heroic adventure filled with notable events and hardships. Likewise in the epic poem The Odyssey by Homer, Odysseus is not permitted to arrive home until he overcomes his biggest challenge, fixing his prideful attitude. The purpose of the passage found in Book V lines 65-102, is to reinforce Odysseus’ image as an epic hero and his loyalty to his family and homeland, in spite of challenges that arise that attempt to deter him from returning home. The structure and language utilised by Homer builds up the meaning of the passage; creating a contrast from the lush and enchanting feel of the goddess Calypso’s estate, to the grief of Odysseus being away from his homeland Ithaca and his family, including his loyal wife Penelope. Homer inserted an array of symbolic descriptions to create the warm and luxurious mood of Calypso’s abode.
Historians are stumped whether or not Homer is a real person, or just an identity created to hide the name of the real writer. Historians have also speculated whether Homer is a single man who wrote all the stories credited to him, or if Homer was a group of writers who collaborated and created the tales. There is much evidence to support the theory that The Iliad and The Odyssey were written by different authors, perhaps as much as a century apart, as the word choices used in each of Homer’s famous stories, The Odyssey and The Iliad, are vastly different. The Iliad is written in a formal, more dramatic way, like a theatrical play, and the Odyssey is written in a more realistic way, like a novel, and emulates a more common way of speaking that is informal. Some historian also believe that Homer is a group of people because there are some inconsistencies between the character of Odysseus in The Odyssey and in The Iliad. Some examples of these differences is that Odysseus uses a spear in The Iliad, but is an extraordinary archer in the Odyssey, meaning that either Homer took artistically liberties in his writings and made the character of Odysseus inconstant and changing the skills he holds in each story, or that there are differences in how Odysseus is described because the stories were created by separate people all together. One historian even goes as far as to claim he thinks it’s a mistake to think of Homer as a person. Homer is an “it” – a tradition, meaning Homer is not an actual man who wrote poetry, but is a name given to stories that were created by retelling of epics. The final versions of The Odyssey and The Iliad may have been made by gradual changes to an oral story which eventually were credited to Homer the Poet. In The Odyssey, the main story is about King Odysseus of Ithaca and his journey to get home after the Great War of Troy is over. Odysseus is one of the first heroes in story telling that is seen as a full person. He may have a few god-like qualities, like his courage, good-looks, and strength as a warrior, but he also has the bad (or more human) parts of him that bring him down a peg. He is extremely arrogant and takes chances that aren’t really necessary, occasionally causing the demise of those around him, but he is fueled by love to get back to his wife, Penelope. He is a complete character, instead of a God that has no flaws, which is most likely the reason so many people resonate with him and appreciate The Odyssey and Odysseus’ adventures. For the first time, characters like Odysseus were being created in stories and spread around, which would be the basis for many stories in ancient Greece, and in today’s literature. The theme of Pride is rampant throughout The Odyssey, as Odysseus is very much full of himself. He is very boastful in the way he acts and talks about how great he thinks he is. An example of Odysseus being extremely arrogant about his action is when, after he has blinded Polyphemus, the cyclops, and is in his ship sailing away, he yells, Cyclopsif any man on the face of the earth should ask you who blinded you, shamed you so??”say Odysseus, raider of cities, he gouged out your eye, Laertes’ son who makes his home in Ithaca! Yelling his full name and the place he lives at a giant cyclops who he just blinded is an unnecessary risk on Odysseus’ part, and a very dangerous one at that. The possible hazards of exposing himself as the one who stabbed Polyphemus’ eye don’t matter to Odysseus because he is so prideful and wants to show how strong and powerful he believes himself to be.
The two kings differ in the way they give their gifts, While Nestor gave Telemachus his gifts and sent him on his way, Menelaus wanted to delay Telemachus. The original gifts of a chariot and horses are a ploy by Menelaus to detain Telemachus. He attempts to delay Telemachus because he reminds him of his old war friend. Helen and Menelaus do not have children at home and, therefore, want a younger person nearby. However, Telemachus see’s Menelaus intentions and finally leaves. Menelaus offering of gifts was meant to make Telemachus forget his home. The offering of gifts that would make one forget their homes also echo’s the land of Lotus-eaters. A third example of a gift is the gift that Phaeacians gave to Odysseus. Odysseus is welcomed into King Alcinous palace where the king listens to his tales. On his way out, Odysseus is accompanied by the Phaeacians in a great ship on his way to his home in Ithaca. Such a journey must have cost the king many resources, but for the respect that the king held for the great warrior, Odysseus; giving him a ship to escort him home was just a token of his gratitude. We see the phaeacians carry Odysseus when the ship arrives at Ithaca (13: 133-134). Odysseus is also offered a gift in the form of an apology from Euryalas. He receives a valuable Bronze sword. Alcinous also gives Odysseus a golden cup as a gift that will make Odysseus remember him. Nausicaa gives Odysseus clothing, food and drinks. This is a tiny gesture compared to that of the palace. On the other hand, Nausicaa rejects half of Odysseus supplication, while Odysseus arrives at the palace as a suppliant waiting in ashes. Such a presentation is not proper for a guest-host friendship. In the end of book 7, the phaeacians still remain hosts who are capable of both good and bad hospitality. They are extremely generous in giving gifts, and are very eager to please. It is not their goodness or their badness that is in question, but rather why they are so generous in the first place. They will not benefit from a reciprocal since they are isolated and live far from the rest. However, their desire for fame and superiority is what motivates them to be so generous in their gifts. The theme of gift-giving has been well brought out in The Odyssey. However, these gifts are not as a sign of respect in all occasions. Rarely were gifts given as a sign of respect: in most cases, the gifts were given because they feared they would face the wrath of the gods if they sent a guest packing or treated them terribly. Gift-giving was in this case forced on the host and was both a burden to the host and the guest as a reciprocal was also expected form the guest. Thus, gifts were not a sign of respect. Nestor gives gifts to Telemachus to please Zeus, Menelaus gives gifts to Telemachus to make him forget home, and finally, the Phaeacians give gifts to Odysseus for their kingdoms reputation.
In either case, Odysseus being a hero in our times is quite a hard thing to distinguish on both sides as what he is more of, but his great self control and his great leadership truly shine a light on him being a great hero and role model for our times in the United States. Both of these qualities are looked for in people of our times. A hero is a person of exceptional noble qualities, courage and achievements. Odysseus has many noble qualities, and two being his self-control and leadership. Odysseus also is mainly recognised for contributing in the victory of the Trojan War and his story. He goes through many hardships with the gods and pays vengeance to the people that take advantage of his wife and his home. He also shows courage in the many things he does to make it back to his home and fight when he gets there. Odysseus shows all the traits of being a great hero in modern times, and he truly is one.
Homer, E V. Rieu, and D C. H. Rieu. The Odyssey. London: Penguin Classics, 2009. Print.