Redemptive Violence in The Odyssey
The myth of redemptive violence is one that is told throughout history. It is one in which violence is the creator. Whether it be creation of the cosmos, peace, or some other result, in this myth violence results in redemption. This myth has been imbedded in our society to such a degree that it is naturalized and accepted as the way things are without much reflection. For example, many Christians probably don't contemplate the ways redemptive violence is at the heart of their religion. A classic example of the myth of redemptive violence is found in the elaborate poem The Odyssey. Many elements of violence and how we associate with violence are explored within the multitude of pages of this tale. In book nine Odysseus has to confront Polythemus, the Cyclops who is Poseidon’s son. Odysseus and his men where trapped within Polythemus’s cave, which had wine and other luxuries in it. But the Cyclops is intent on eating every last one of them and saving Odysseus, or “Nohbdy,” as Odysseus presented himself to the Cyclops, for last. Odysseus later blinds Polythemus with a burning stick, leaving him aggrieved and in pain. Writhing in pain, he opens the rock, letting Odysseus’s crew escape. This is just a primal form of the myth, but by injuring Polythemus Odysseys is released, illustrating the productive side of violence.
In book ten Odysseus finds himself on the island of Aeolus, which is occupied by the witch Circe. She lures Odysseus’s men into her house and turns them into swine. Odysseus, who has an antidote to the witch’s drugs given to him by the god Hermes, is immune to the witch's drugs and threatens her with the violence of his sword and she takes him to her bed where he persuaded her to change back his men. This tale within The Odyssey is one of violence such those Walter Wink wrote about in "The Myth of Redemptive Violence." He writes, “cosmic order requires the violent suppression of the...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document