The Odyssey: Longing for Home

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Longing for Home

In the Odyssey, Ithaka is illustrated as a place of danger and struggle, yet Odysseus yearns to reach his homeland. On his journey home, Odysseus is presented with homes in which he knows he will be safe and with an abundance of comfort. One major example of a comfortable home was the island of Kalypso, in which he was promised all the riches and immortal life. Before he embarks on his journey home, Odysseus expressed to Kalypso his longing for home and how incredibly he longed for his wife. In the passage, the portrayal of his longing for his wife is prominent. Odysseus desires to be at his home, Ithaka, not only for his power and pride, but for the love his has for his wife.

Odysseus’ love for his family, especially his wife, brings him the courage and strength to make it home. The passage is right after Penelope embraces Odysseus for the first time since his homecoming:

“Now from his breast into his eyes the ache
of longing mounted, and he wept at last,
his dear wife, clear and faithful, in his arms,
longed for
as the sunwarmed earth is longed for by a swimmer
spent in rough water where his ship went down
under Poseidon’s blows, gale winds and tons of sea.” (The Odyssey XXIII 269-274)

In the first two lines, “ache of longing” (269-70) depicts how much he yearned to have his wife in his arms again. “Ache” in this passage is shown as the pain Odysseus felt without Penelope in his life for so long. The same line, we see that he “wept” (270), which conveys the “ache” even further and expresses how much he desired to be united with the love of his life again. Homer engages us with the simile, “longed for as the sunwarmed earth is longed for by a swimmer spent in rough water,” (272-73) which draws the reader to understand his longing even more. The simile not only shows how much he longed for Penelope but in addition offers a look into Odysseus’ journey. When Poseidon wreaks havoc on Odysseus, the only hope that he is left with...
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