Epic Similes in the Odyssey

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Epic similes are literary comparisons meant to distract the reader from the story. In The Odyssey, the author Homer uses epic similes to detract the reader from the brutality present in battle. These similes demonstrate the festal and barbaric qualities that men adopt when they are in battle and often compare warriors to majestic animals, like lions, attacking prey.

When it is time for the battle between Odysseus and the suitors to begin, the suitors, mad with the fear of death, storm like stampeding cattle at Odysseus and his men. In this simile Odysseus and his men are compared to falcons: “After them the attackers wheeled, as terrible as falcons from eyries in the mountains veering over and diving down

with talons wide unsheathed on flights of birds,
who cower down the sky in chutes and bursts along the valley.” (Book XXII, L 337-340) This scene is a reference to Penelope’s dream in which an eagle descended from a mountain to kill all of the geese feeding at Odysseus’s palace (Book XIX, L622-626). Odysseus’s men have submitted for many years, enduring the vile behavior of the suitors and waiting for Odysseus to return from Troy. After watching the suitors exploit the palace and cattle of their king, Odysseus’s men can finally release the anger and resentment they feel towards the despicableness of the suitors, as demonstrated in the fierceness of the battle; they take no mercy on the suitors and slaughter them. The men are portrayed as hawks, keen birds that are intent on catching their prey and ripping it apart with their “talons.”

When the battle in the hall is over, Odysseus calls Eurýkleia down to help conduct his plans. But when she enters the hall, Eurýkleia finds Odysseus covered in blood and surrounded by the dead suitors: “In the shadowy hall

full of deadmen she found his father
spattered and caked with blood like a mountain lion
when he has gorged upon an ox, his kill –
with hot blood glistening over his chest,
smeared on his...
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