Importance of the Book “Odyssey” by Homer Research Paper
Odyssey is an epic story done by Homer. It is one of the best epic stories which revolve around a hero who is faced by many challenges and problems which he conquered. The author has used an admiration tone throughout the book which helps to improve the character of the hero. The epic story is characterized by supernatural powers that have an effect on all that happens in the book, by influencing their outcome.
The Odyssey is sequential to the Iliad and it has twenty four books. It is a story of how Odysseus helped to fight and defeat the Troy by the use of the Trojan horse. It is a book with a story that has lasted for ages due to its major themes such as the relation between father and son, the role of women, the significance of hospitality and the use of disguise in the book. The essay delves in the above themes to show the importance of the book.
The relationship between father and son
It is always said that “like father like son”. This is true in the epic story, The Odyssey. Odysseus who is a man of advanced age is the main protagonist in the book.
He has succeeded in gaining a lot of respect, heroism and glory among his people due to his brave response in guarding Ithaca’s honor. This character makes Odysseus to be admired worldwide due to his character of an ideal man with a lot of intelligence and demeanor. “Like Odysseus, Telemachus is undertaking his own journey in an important sub-plot to Odysseus’s return voyage to Ithaca.
By examining this sub-plot and the character and trials of Telemachus, the reader is able to predict how Ithaca will go on once Odysseus dies (Caldwell, 2004)”. Under the leadership of Telemachus, Ithaca will be safe since the son will take over from his father in terms of his charismatic and brave leadership.
The relationship portrays the culture of the Greek society which was patriarchal in nature. Sons were rewarded for taking after their father and showing skills and determination shown by their fathers. Odysseus and his son Telemachus show similar characters. Odysseus is proud of his son who shows a promise of greatness and Telemachus is proud of his father who had admirable character as a warrior and defender of Ithaca. Both father and son are not close to each other and they develop their love for one another in a distance.
The distance between them is what prompts the son to start identifying his own worth. In the book, there is evidence that Odysseus and his son longed to see each other and they were determined to face any challenges in their quest to meet and reunite their family. The absence from one another gave them a psychological reason of redefining themselves and creating the urge to meet one another (Homer, 1999).
Women in Odyssey
From a cultural perspective, women’s position in the society was different from that of men, but women in Odyssey had influence and power. The book portrays women as modern and he shows their role in the book. For example, Odyssey’s wife who was called Penelope exerted a lot of power and influence. She knew that men would be lured by her sexual charms which she used to her advantage by obtaining what she wanted from them as she was waiting the return of her husband.
Women are seen as pitiful and people who are strong willed though they are defeated in the end. “Telemachus first asserted his manhood by ordering Penelope from the public rooms of the palace, indicating to the suitors of his intention to assert his claim to his father’s throne. The dependence of mothers on their son’s devotion to them is made clear elsewhere in Homer, as in the case of Anticlea and her statement that she died not of illness but of longing for her son Odysseus (Pomeroy 1995, p.28)”.
Significance of Hospitality
It took more than ten years for Odysseus to go back to his home after the victory for Ithaca in the Trojan War. He took long because he had to accept all the hospitality and welcoming nature of all the people he met along the way. Hospitality forms an integral part in the book since it is an aspect of social life and cooperation of relationships.
It fosters open communication in rather hostile environment. “For instance, in Homer’s Odyssey, when Telemakhos goes off on his own and encounters the castle of Menelaus, there is no hesitation to bring him inside and allow him to join the feast and welcomes them personally (Homer, 1999)”.
The story show how hospitality is used to open doors and it serves as a tool to create conducive environment for communication in a rather threatening situation.
The use of disguises
The book has used disguise of characters to enable the easy movement of characters from one region to the other in the world. There are players in the book who disguises themselves in more than one way. The goddess Athena disguised herself more than three ways. Odysseus also used the disguise of a horse to lull his enemies into trap and thus defeat them. Disguise was used for psychological as well as for pragmatic reasons (Homer, 1999).
Caldwell, Richard. The Origin of the Gods: A Psychoanalytic Study of Greek Theogonic Myth. New York: Oxford University Press., 2004. Print.
Homer. The Odyssey. NewYork: Signet Classics, 1999. Print.
Pomeroy, Sarah. Goddesses, whores, wives, and slaves : women in classical antiquity. New York: Schocken Books, 1995. Print.
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