Themes of The Odyssey

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An Enduring Tale Thousands of years after it was written, people continue to read The Odyssey not only for its thrilling adventure, but also for its invaluable dissection of inherent human qualities. In his epic poem, The Odyssey, Homer addresses intrinsic characteristics of humans that man has continued to demonstrate throughout history. The Odyssey incorporates the timeless topics of cunning over strength, greed and folly, and loyalty, into Odysseus’ story while simultaneously offering insight to readers in the 21st century. Homer incorporates into Odysseus the paramount and novel idea of intelligence, which gives him an edge that previous heroes lacked. When faced with an enemy he and his crew cannot vanquish, the Kyklops Polyphemus, he makes up for his deficiency in man power through his wit. Odysseus acknowledges that even if he and his men could overpower Polyphemus, they “could never/move his ponderous doorway slap aside” (IX.329-330). The hero understands that even if he has the strength to kill the beast, he lacks the strength to move his great door. If Odysseus had failed to realize this, his crew would undoubtedly be dead, he proves that in humans and beasts alike, brains are more important than brawn alone. Similarly, Odysseus knows that he is no match for the host of young suitors in his palace, so he makes the most of his other strength, his guile. He plans to give his allies and himself an advantage by being the only ones armed, he instructs his son to “round up all armor,lances, gear of war/left in our hall, and stow the lot away/back in the vaulted room” (XVI.336-338). This scheme stacks the odds in Odysseus’ favor, preparing him for inevitable victory. While previous heroes could have taken it from this point, it took the brain of Odysseus to bring this scheme to life. In modern society, one’s brain is an invaluable asset. Today, brawn is only beneficial to a select few, for a small window of time in their lives. The brain helps advance

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