The Odyssey; Immortality

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The Odyssey of Homer is filled with various adventures, sought-after revenge, and harmful temptations. The war hero, Odysseus, traveled for three years, always trying to achieve his homecoming. In Odysseus’ fourth year, Zeus destroyed his ship, as well as his companions, while they were out at sea. After these losses, Odysseus alone was washed up onto the island of a nymph, Kalypso. She took him into her palace and came to love him. After time, she desired to make Odysseus her husband, offering to make him immortal as well. Yet, Odysseus declines her offer of immortality. After years of fighting in battle, then years of suffering following the war, his noble rejection seems remarkable. Homer’s readers are forced to wonder, why does he not accept this offer? The immortality Kalypso offers nullifies Odysseus’ true identity. An immortal life with Kalypso would hinder him from his roles as a king, husband, and warrior. Kalypso’s offer of immortality nullifies Odysseus’ identity as a king. While on Kalypso’s island, Ogygia, Odysseus is the only person living there with Kalypso. Her island is isolated; she does not even have any servants or attendants with her. Even if Odysseus were to accept the offer, there are not any people to be ruled on Ogygia. Everyday Odysseus sits “out on the beach, crying, as before now he had done, breaking his heart in tears, lamentation, and sorrow, as weeping tears he looked out over the barren water” (Book 5, lines 82-84). Odysseus’ behavior here illustrates how out of place he is on the island. Being a king is part of Odysseus’ identity. He is a natural leader, strong and confident, and living on an island for eternity with no kingdom would render those qualities useless. Odysseus desires to return to Ithaka, because this would expedite the return of his identity. “I am at home in sunny Ithaka… a rugged place, but a good nurse of men… nothing is more sweet in the end than country” (Book 9, lines 21-34). After being lost

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