Travel, Migration, And Exile In The Odyssey And 1001 Arabian Nights
In the many stories, tales, and adventures that we have read so far, there have been multitudes of borders crossed by a variety of characters. All of these characters thus far crossing said borders have had a different intention, goal, or motive that theyare trying to achieve, either on purpose or accidentally. Some characters are crossing borders trying to find or return to others, while others are just trying to find themselves.
These borders can be physical, vast, and expand across oceans and countries, or they can be social constructs or popular beliefs that certain characters look to overcome ordisband. Either way, all of these literary boundaries that have been transversed bycharacters are incredibly important and all have meaningful journeys and outcomes that can be analyzed in depth.
Behind each border crossing in literature, there is a character with his or her own motive or reasoning for overcoming it. For example, Odysseus, from The Odyssey, crossed many borders throughout the story, his ultimate motive being to reach his homein Ithaca again to prove he was alive, regain his role as king, reunite with his family, andto boast to everyone about the things he achieved and the battles that he won while he was away for twenty long years. The most significant borders that Odysseus, a mortalman, crossed during his travels are likely the ones from the mortal and the immortalrealms. Odysseus had many encounters with immortal and nonhuman beings, such as Polyphemus, Circe, Calypso, Mentor, the Sirens, Aeolus, and more. With these beings, Odysseus experienced many interactions that most mortal individuals would not, manyending in which Odysseus barely even makes it out alive. Other literary bordering crossings that we have experienced in our readings are the female trobairitz and thesongs that they compose and perform in a time where men were the dominant gender.
Women were seen as very inferior and the property of men in this predominantlypatriarchal society, so the border crossing for trobairitz from silence to singingbeautiful songs was an incredibly significant border crossing which resulted in a sort ofmusical awakening for the people in this era.
The final meaningful border crossing that we have experienced in literature so far was seen by Sindbad in the story 1001 Arabian Nights. In this tale, Sindbad crosses a social class border, as a very rich man he talks tothe poor version of himself, something that is normally unheard of in this culture, as theclass system is very rigid and the different social classes do not interact. This bordercrossing shows the humility that Sindbad retains from his days in the lower class despite his recent upgrade to a new class and refusing to indulge in the hubris that thehigher social class would otherwise bring him. All of these border crossings discussed depict the wide range of the types of borders crossed and the various motives and intentions that are behind them, as no two are alike.
While the characters and their respective border crossings considered so far have made heroic journeys and incredible sacrifices, they have faced, fought, and overcomemany dangers as well. During Odysseus’ journey home, he faced the remarkable dangers of all of the inhuman people he came into contact with that were all looking to take advantage of him or kill him for their own gain. He was also tormented by the god of theocean, Poseidon, who sought to get revenge on Odysseus for blinding his cyclops son, Polyphemus. Poseidon relentlessly caused the ocean to work against Odysseus in any possible way, to stop him from getting home to his family and his people as well askilling in him in the process. Alternatively, the trobairitz faced their own kind of danger as they crossed the border from silence to voice. These women faced the rejection ofmen and the hardships of defying gender norms in order to have their music be heardand remembered historically. These trobairitz became so influential that the maletroubadours crossed their own border from singing about religion to singing aboutwomen and the effects they have on men, as well as all facets of ethics, imagination, and the daily life of their time.
Finally, Sindbad’s dangers in the borders he crossed in 1001 Arabian Nights were very substantial as well. The dangers in the physical borders that he crossed as he journeyed throughout his seven voyages were fairly straightforward. These included evading predatory snakes, avoiding large rocks hurled by vexed giants, and not eating the food or drinking the coconut oil of the very cannibalistic Magian King and his men. However, Sindbad experienced other very real dangers, especially when crossing the border of a rigid social class system. When ‘Sindbad the sailor’, a very rich and well-respected man speaks to the poor people much lower on the socialhierarchy, this is typically unheard of for this era and would often be seen as very scandalous. The rich version of Sindbad faces the danger of risking his own social statusand could be viewed as a derelict for conversing with people of a much lower classranking than he. All of these dangers that the literary characters who cross substantial borders face are very important and play a significant role in who these characters truly are.
Often times as the characters in these literary works endeavor to cross their respective borders, they come out on the other side as a changed person, either physically, emotionally, or both. For the period of Odysseus’ long ten year journey, he sets off as a greedy man, looking for wealth and glory at the thought of winning in the Trojan War. Through his journey and his time spent stranded on Calypso’s island, he humbles a bit and realizes that he really just wants to go home and see his wife and son again. While Odysseus still revels in the thought of regaining his royal position, the journey that he endures subdues him enough to realize his values in life. Similarly, as the trobairitz start singing their music publically, Occitania at this time undergoes amusical cross-pollination of sorts, as the ideas and songs of both men and women change music to be better than anyone had previously known it. Finally, Sindbad’sjourney and border-crossing through the social hierarchy led him to be a more modest and unpretentious man in the upper levels of the social class, setting an example toothers.
As a whole, when these characters cross their respective borders, they affectinteresting changes that can be felt through many facets of life. Some awaken new waysof thinking and doing things in cultures, others change their own lives for the better or worse, and others start massive movements that change a population’s perceptions ofthe world for many eras to come. Whatever the outcome may be, we can always be sure that any time a border or social construct is crossed, the end result will be momentous and symbolic.
Living in a major American city, we have no trouble identifying that those in need are all around us. People ask for spare change on the subway so that they […]
When reading the works of Homer, we find that an ever-present theme in his poetry is the relative insignificance of mortals and their creations. Relative, that is, to the much […]
One of the most valued skills one can possess is the art of storytelling. Man can express himself through means of song, art, dance, and poetry—but he must have a […]
Virtue in the Republic and the Odyssey In Plato’s Republic, the ideas of virtue are expressed in regards to the soul. Socrates says that the four main virtues—wisdom, courage, moderation, […]
In describing the characters of Odysseus and Oedipus, Homer and Sophocles both avoid defining these men by typical physical characteristics such as stature or distinctive facial features. Instead, these authors […]
Homer’s epic The Odyssey is superimposed on the backdrop of a typical ancient Greek society. As the main character, Odysseus, and his companions travel from place to place on their […]
In The Odyssey, Homer conveys themes of loyalty, authority, and reverence to the gods as he tells the story of Odysseus’ journey back to his home in Ithaca. All of […]
Travel and migration can, in the most part, be viewed as voluntary. Exile is an action thatis involuntary, thus force is an aspect of exile. Travel and migration both include […]
Piety was an important concept in ancient Greek civilization, as it shaped the culture and actions of Greek citizens. What exactly piety means has varied over time, and the definition […]
In the many stories, tales, and adventures that we have read so far, there have been multitudes of borders crossed by a variety of characters. All of these characters thus […]