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The Odyssey

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Topics: Odysseus, Odyssey
The passage that Homer exquisitely wrote in The Odyssey was in Book 5, lines 309-323. Homer’s techniques established an image that could never be forgotten. In this passage, Odysseus was being dragged down to the sea by Poseidon. The sea god was furious that all the other gods were in his favor. Odysseus talked to himself and wondered out loud, “Rag of man that I am, is this the end of me?” (V, 309) Irony was a method Homer utilized to convey the message of helplessness. Odysseus has used trickery and deception during his journey. The sneaky hero went under disguise as a beggar with rags. The great, humble man categorized himself to the lowest position. It’s intriguing when Odysseus seems to regret and reflect about the past- “...lucky those Danaans were who perished...I should have had a soldier’s burial and praise from the Akhaians-not this choking waiting for me at sea, unmarked and lonely.” (V, 316-323) Odysseus doesn’t seem to be afraid of death. He does not ask for Poseidon’s forgiveness. The only thing he regrets the most is being unable to be recognized for his accomplishments. Usually, Odysseus is the victor of his odyssey. Now, he has lost control to the waters. To exemplify the mood, Homer inserted caesuras. The section “Would God I, too, had died there-met my end” (V, 317) is heart-wrenching. When I read this sentence, I had to hold my breath for the long pause. Odysseus sounded as if he was reflecting what could have been in a different scenario.

Another event that was potentially touching was in Book 23, lines 258-264. The passage wasn’t sappy. Penelope was filled with suspense after dealing with the foolish suitors in the past. She said, “You make my stiff heart know that I am yours. (XXIII, 258) It wasn’t her fault she could not trust Odysseus at first. When she had an epiphany and trusted Odysseus, they melted into each other’s arms. Their longing for each other had been quenched at last. Homer provided a brief recap of Odysseus’ adventures preceding his arrival in Ithaka- “...a swimmer spent in rough water where his ship went down under Poseidon’s blows, gale winds and tons of sea.” (XXIII, 263-266) Although this passage was relieving, the passage where Odysseus was in a terrifying situation had more zest. This piece had Odysseus at his weakest. He was on his own, worried about not being found. While Odysseus contemplated, there were no gods present to assist him yet; he would have to use his clever abilities to think of a way to survive. Although it’s common to find instances where Odysseus is the supreme leader and in control, it’s rare to see Odysseus break down. Odysseus broke away from his impassive armor in both passages. However, when Odysseus is alone, the reader truly understands Odysseus’ true self. Odysseus’ reflection (V, 309-323) included a major theme of The Odyssey- loneliness. Each character had a need for others and a home. Penelope cried over her missing husband, Telemakhos has only heard of the great legends of his father, and Odysseus’ mother died because of her son. Mortals are not the only group that can feel forsaken or alone. Gods/immortals can feel that way, too. Calypso, the sea nymph, was furious at the gods for taking away Odysseus from her. She claimed it not to be fair- “Oh you vile gods, in jealous sepernal! You hate it when we choose to lie with men” (V 124-125) It seems as if Odysseus is the missing piece to everyone’s problems. The theme of loneliness extracts another major matter-endurance. Odysseus proved himself to be a brave warrior of surviving his loneliness. Penelope endured the suitors’ aggravating stay. Telemakhos had not faced any major hardships, but he did survive without a father. Odysseus has “iron” determination. Odysseus’ perseverance that came after a near-death experience of chilling loneliness helped him return to Ithaka and reunite with his loved ones.

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