Odyssey Literary Analysis

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The Author and his Times

The author of the Odyssey, to this day, remains unknown. Early Greeks have accredited works such as the "Homeric Hyms", The Iliad, and The Odyssey to an individual by the name of Homer. However, there are some scientists that insist these said works were product of a group of people and not one man. This particular group of scientists claims that the subject matter of the writings is too diverse for them to have been the product of just one person. Despite these differing opinions the general consensus is still that Homer is the author.

By analyzing the dialects used in the above works, Ionic and Aeolic, experts have derived that Homer's origin is some where in the western part of Asia Minor. He could possibly have been from the island of Chios, where a family by the name of Homer currently resides, some of whom may be his descendants.
Homer is said to have been a poet or bard. He would travel across Greece and orally recite his tales of heroes and gods. The story telling method of the time gave room for different influences to affect tales as they were passed on from person to person. The Odyssey was no exception, however; the majority of the story was created by one person, Homer. The Odyssey was transferred from oral delivery to paper in 700 BC after its predecessor The Iliad.

Though little is known of Homer, it is safe to say that he was heavily influenced by the Greek gods of the time. He incorporates them into The Odyssey very deeply and treats them, in the story, as they would be treated in real life. (Cliffs Notes)

Main Characters

The characters in The Odyssey are very colorful. Each character has a trait that is obvious through their actions, but, at the same time, each embodies more than just that characteristic. This mixture of attributes gives Homer's characters a realistic quality and makes the story far more enjoyable.

Odysseus- Odysseus is a middle aged man and experienced warrior. He is marked by his admirable strength of intellect as well as body. Odysseus is extremely clever and confident to the point of being almost conceited. The name Odysseus means "the Son of Pain". This name was given to Odysseus by his grand father and is explained in the quote: "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 . . ." (Book 19 460–464)

Poseidon- Poseidon is the god of the sea. He is a vengeful god that is angry with Odysseus for blinding the Cyclops Polyphemos, his son. Poseidon can control the sea, and with this power hampers Odysseus' journey home. This opposition of Odysseus, the protagonist; is what makes Poseidon the antagonist of the story. Some irony surrounds Poseidon in that he is the patron of the Phaeacians, who help Odysseus return to Ithaca.

The Suitors- The Suitors number in the dozens and are the men trying to woo Penelope in Odysseus' absence. Among these suitors are Antinous, Eurymachus, and Amphinomus. Antinous is extremely arrogant and is void of any sympathy. He plots to kill Telemachus in order to leave Penelope alone and vulnerable, and is the first to be killed upon the return of Odysseus. Eurymachus is deceitful and manipulative. He is adept at gaining favor, which he shows by gaining support among the suitors. Eurymachus, like Antinous; is killed when Odysseus returns. Amphinomus is the only decent suitor among the lot. He shows sympathy and support for Telemachus and Odysseus. Despite his decency he, too, is killed in the slaughter at the end of the story. Throughout the epic the suitors are an annoyance and burden for Penelope and Telemachus. They plague Odysseus's house and harass Penelope relentlessly. The suitors are in competition with Odysseus for the hand of Penelope. This conflict makes the suitors the second antagonist of the story.

Telemachus- Telemachus is the son of Odysseus. He is about 20 years of age...
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