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Archetypal Characters

By jaysonpk Jun 02, 2012 649 Words
Mythology P1
Archetypal Characters
As humans we make mistakes, but the real power is learning from our mistakes. Often we can learn from others mistakes that way we don’t have to feel the pain ourselves to understand why we shouldn’t do something or be a certain way. Also we can learn from history and past mistakes that lead them into bad times and disputes. From literature we learn morals and lessons through the characters position. “We live with our archetypes, but can we live in them?” rightly said by Poul Anderson. An archetype is a universally understood symbol or pattern of behavior. Homer is the author of two great epics in world literature. Some people also regard Homer to be a group of story tellers. Homer’s epic The Odyssey presents several archetypal characters that can offer lessons about human behavior, and we can especially see this idea when we look at the characters of Odysseus, Telemachus, Penelope, and Antinous. Odysseus’s character is an archetype for someone who has been away from home for a long time and is returning from war. Throughout his adventure, he faced many hardships that prove that he is an archetypal hero. Being an archetypal hero, Odysseus needs to possess three traits that hold considerable importance. Odysseus returns home after twenty years of wandering. His cunning mind helped the Greeks win the Trojan War. An example of his unique intelligence is when he and his crew were trapped inside the Cyclops cave. When asked his name by Polyphemus, Odysseus smartly replied: “Nobody–that’s my name.” He is a good example for the new generation when they live away from their parents or are in college and can’t return home until graduation. Odysseus also represents hubris when he tells Polyphemus his name, which cost him few more years of suffering. Telemachus’ character is an archetype for a person raised by a single parent who then needs a mentor to help him complete the rite of passage. Childhood is the most importance phase of life when the child learns the most and can make connections easily. Being raised by Penelope alone, Telemachus needed the additional support which was fulfilled by Athena who guided him through the rocky waters of life. Telemachus, who grows up in the world of greed and disrespect where the suitors take over his palace. He has to stand up on his own feet and fight for his father which is a great example of a true son. Penelope’s character is an archetype for anyone waiting for a loved one to return from war. Penelope has the strong courage to wait for twenty years even though there was no guarantee that Odysseus was alive. A woman’s mission in life in Geek times was to bear children and take care of the house. She had the strength to raise Telemachus single handed, letting him not feel the absence of his father. Antinous’s character is an archetype for anyone who refuses to take responsibility for one’s own actions. Odysseus became the nemesis of the suitors. Antinous, known as

the head of the suitors is an example of the bad guys in modern life who always commits crime and fail to accept that they did it.

The Odyssey provides readers an illustration of the archetype Greek and is the defining example of how life existed in Greek Society. Every prominent civilization throughout the history of man has been able to look to archetypes within their own society for an example of how to live an idealized life. The process of finding role models has changed over time. Today, Americans find role models in sports, the entertainment industry, and church. The ancient Chinese looked to great warriors and philosophers as role models. In ancient Greece role models were found in stories passed down through generations that showed people how to be happy and lead a good life.

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