Odyssey Death and Rebirth in the Odyssey

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Topics: Odysseus, Odyssey
The Odyssey, by Homer, is a classical piece of Greek literature. Throughout

The Odyssey, the Blind Bard makes use of many literary techniques in order

to lend meaning to the poem beyond its existence as a work of historic fiction

and aid his readers in the comprehension of the tale. One of these techniques

is the use of motifs. A motif is a recurring theme that is used throughout the

work. In The Odyssey, Homer makes use of many motifs including

eating/drinking, Odysseus 's anger, bathing, and disguise, just to name a few.

However, perhaps the most important of Homer 's motifs is the symbolic death

and rebirth theme. This motif is used throughout The Odyssey to emphasize

the growth and enlightenment of the characters. The first example of this motif

occurs with Telemachos early in the text. Telemachos, in book I, is visited by

the goddess Athena in disguise. In their conversation, Telemachos reveals the

pain and suffering that he is experiencing as a result of living without knowing

the status of his father, fearing that he is dead. ". . . and he left pain and

lamentation to me. Nor is it for him alone that I grieve in my pain now (The

Odyssey, Latimore, I. 242-3)." Symbolically, at this point in the text,

Telemachos is dead. He is willing to take no action to save his home from the

suitors or take any initiative to determine the status of his missing father.

However, his symbolic death is not without a rebirth. Athene, disguised as

Mentes, brings Telemachos back to life. She convinces him that he must take

action to preserve his household and determine the fate of his father. This

prompts Telemachos to take over his father 's role in the household and

journey forward to gather information about his missing father. His rebirth is

further carried out in the story when he is reunited with his father; together,

the two act to regain control of their household from the

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