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Topics: Odyssey, Odysseus, Poseidon, Trojan War / Pages: 3 (739 words) / Published: Mar 7th, 2014
Syda Isaacs
Ms. Young
Honors English 12
Feb 18, 2014
In Homer’s “The Odyssey” the author symbolizes through Odysseus’ journey the journey of life. All beings face obstacles on the journey from life to death. The obstacles that Homer had Odysseus face were always symbolic of what all human beings face. The fact that Odysseus is a revered and admirable character shows these recurring themes in a way that could not be portrayed by a common person who was not supernatural or an idealic personality. Homer uses imagery, symbolism and recurring themes to showcase all of the elements of Odysseus journey.
Power; the first notable theme Homer displays in this epic is brought forward in the very beginning when the king of Ithaca, Odysseus fought victoriously in the Trojan War. Odysseus was revered all throughout his kingdom by all men including those who envied him. Odysseus named a Demi-God not a regular man; Odysseus had a remarkable inhuman quality. He defeated the plagues of the gods; Athena’s wisdom and Poseidon’s wrath. ”Odysseus had angered the sea god Poseidon (the brother of Zeus, the king of the gods) by blinding Polyphemus the Cyclops Poseidon’s son.” "The Odyssey." World Religions Reference Library. Ed. Julie L. Carnagie, et al. Vol. 5: Primary Sources. Detroit: UXL, 2007. 73-84. Odysseus defeated the large Cyclops using his wit alone none of his godly strength. ”While Odysseus indeed possesses extraordinary strength, he consistently demonstrates intellects over muscle as he gets himself out of one difficulty after another by outsmarting , tricking and befuddling his attackers.”
Love; A theme used in the Odyssey through the characters who are the closest in this epic journey. Penelope (Odysseus’ wife) is used by Homer repeatedly to draw attention to the intimacy she and Odysseus share. ”His wife and son await his return home though many people believe Odysseus is dead, including the suitors who aggressively vie for Penelope’s attention.” The love Penelope has for Odysseus shows while she tries for as long as she can to stray away from the other men in the kingdom trying to take the throne. The love and loyalty Telemachus has for his father is tempted as his father’s throne is being threatened by other men in Ithaca that believe Odysseus is dead. While Odysseus is gone it is “Telemachus’ job to protect his mother from harm in the unruly kingdom.
Family; “Legend has it that Athena had no mother, she sprang directly from the forehead of Zeus.” The close relation from Athena to Zeus (king of the gods) adds to the mystical prowess that Athena’s presence already delivers. Homer uses the familiar relationships between the characters to give depth to each character; by having the familiar counterpart as one known by the audience with prominent attributes. Telemachus son of Odysseus brings forth a connotation of strength and importance given the association with Odysseus. The precipitous strength and importance happens throughout these familiar associations including those with Athena and Zeus, and Polyphemus and Poseidon.
In The Odyssey the sea seems to represent the huge gulf between the power of men and the power of the gods. The ancient Greeks may have been good sailors, but there's only so much you can do with a small boat and a handful of men. Odysseus’ men put themselves at the mercy of the wind, and so the sea comes to represent, well, life itself: full of suffering, subject to angry gods, and very occasionally willing to send something good your way. The most significant of these symbols are Odysseus’ great bow, the shroud that Penelope weaves for Laertes, the island of Ithaca, and the sea itself. The great bow symbolizes both Odysseus’ strength and the obvious truth: he is the only one fit both for Penelope and to lead Ithaca. When the suitors struggle to do what Odysseus does without effort, it proves that not a single one of them will be able to replace the king. Eurymakhos admits, “Curse this day . . . What a shame to be repeated of us, after us!” (489-490 l 256-264). The suitors soon realize he is right and become embarrassed, realizing they are not worthy to take his place. Moreover, the shroud Penelope is weaving represents how swiftly and smartly she handles her situation at home. These men are taking advantage of her hospitality and treating her like some poor beggar woman instead of like royalty. ( "Symbolism in the Odyssey" 03 2011. 2011. 03 2011)

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