The Odyssey Homers Odyssey is one of the finest examples of ancient Greek literature. Along with Iliad it represents an ultimate expression of ancient spirit, which it its turn, enabled Greek civilization to reach the cultural heights that we still use as standard, while assessing the cultural legacy of our own Western culture. Modern historians doubt whether the same author wrote these two epic masterpieces. The main reason for this is the fact that Odyssey, stylistically and conceptually, is much different from Iliad. First one is a high tragedy, its storyline based on the events of Trojan War. The style of this poem is very noble and there is no place for petty human weaknesses.
But in Odyssey author uses different approach the main character of this poem, Odysseus, has all the features of character that we usually attribute to regular human being. Although, he is frequently in contact with Olympian Gods, we see his character in constant transformation. His attitude changes, as he is being put through numerous trials and tribulations on his way home. Odyssey tell us a story of regular person, who will use his brain to succeed in situations, where using naked force would lead to failure. This implies a great flexibility of Odysseus character. Right at the beginning, Homer outlines the story of his hero as man in transformation: Sing to me of the man, Muse, the man of twists and turns driven time and again off course, once he had plundered the hallowed heights of Troy. Many cities of men he saw and learned their minds, many pains he suffered, heartsick on the open sea, fighting to save his life and bring his comrades home.
... thieves and outlaws. The Cyclops is a gullible character. First off, the Cyclops believes Odysseus when ... the epic. Odysseus faces many enemies throughout The Odyssey one of them being, the Cyclops, also ... Moreover, he accepted wine from Odysseus and his men, people he was continuously torturing. "Three bowls ... Also, the Cyclops leaves Odysseus and his men, who were complete strangers to him, alone ...
(Book 1, p. 1-2) Odysseus, just as any human, faces an uneasy choices. At times, it seems like the nature itself creates obstacles for him on his way home. Yet, being an epic character, Odysseus never gives up, his goal of reuniting with his wife and son has to be reached at any cost. After having realized that he is being confronted with Olympic gods, whore actively trying to prevent him from coming home, Odysseus never changes his objectives. He will go as far as denying their authority, in the major act of transgression.
He is a man of morals, but only as long as they serve him and he never hesitates breaking them, when he cant do otherwise, while trying to get what he wants. The massacre of suitors, upon his arrival home, shows him ruthless and pitiless. He fully deserves having his name associated with pain, which is not only something he experiences throughout his journeys, but also what he inflicts upon others: Just as I have come from afar, creating pain for many men and women across the good green earth so let his name be Odysseus . . . the Son of Pain, a name hell earn in full.
(Book 19, p.460) Odysseus is also susceptible to temptations – while swimming by the Sirens island, he had to be tighten down to the ships mast, because Sirens heavenly singing would otherwise cause him to jump out in the waters and lose his life. Still, the ultimate temptation comes to Odysseus when Calypso ask him to stay with her and, in exchange, she offers him immortality: But if you only knew, down deep, what pains are fated to fill your cup before you reach that shore, youd stay right here, preside in our house with me and be immortal (Book 5, p.223) Still, Homers hero remains loyal to his wife, although it wasnt easy for him The ideas of transformation, transgression and temptation are very crucial in Odyssey through them, author helps us to understand our own subconscious motivations and anxieties. Because of this, we can consider Odyssey, as being probably the first attempt of psychological analysis by the means of poetry.
Homer: The Odyssey. Translated by Fitzgerald R. Garden City, NY, Anchor/Doubleday, 1961.
1. Does the Odysseus of these books seem different in character from the Odysseus of Books V - XII? If so, why? In the books 5 to 12 Odysseus' character does not really undergo any transitions from one facet to another. Odysseus still carries the same attributes and traits right through to the end of the story. It is, however, evident in book 22, when Odysseus takes his revenge upon the suitors, ...