About the Odyssey by Homer
The Odyssey by Homer, an old epic written masterpiece, that depicts several themes and surprises we as readers encountered while reading it. Few major themes that will be discussed would be first off, the role of females in the odyssey and then proceed with other aspects of the book, among are power, revenge, family, how does family relate to hope and loyalty in the book? Love, how surreal and effective is it in the book? Wisdom, how does it lead to answers or solutions in the book? Evilness, how does it help cope with the rest of the characters and is the end results of it justified? Grief, how does it impact the main character in the book? The book The Odyssey is about Odysseus, in ancient Greek, king of Ithaca, a brave leader, strong, and hopeful hero who struggled to find his way back home for ten years after a ten-year war which was the Trojan War despite the unlucky twits he faced with his men and the gods. While away, faced many challenges at sea, from being held captive many gods including by Calypso for about seven years, a charming goddess who in the hopes of marrying Odysseus offer him immortality even so, I wish you well. If you could see it all, before you go, all the adversity you face at sea, you would stay here, and guard this house, and be immortal (book 5. 213). The focus on this essay would be characters such Penelope, Odysseus’s wife, Athena the goddess; and the Sirens without an in depth analysis about the rest of the characters.
To enlighten a little bit about the background of the poem, we understand that during the ten-year’ war of Trojan, the Greeks strategically defeated the enemy by pretending to accept defeat in order to infiltrate the Troy. The Trojans were unaware of the Greek intentions, fell for the trick and that cost them the war as result. Troy was destroyed. Odysseus and his Greek battle buddies went back to their land across the sea. This illuminating beginning of the story by the famous blind poet Homer. The story has a great plot and in terms of settings, the war itself took place in the Iliad and Odyssey is basically the continuation and end of the story. The poem, The Odyssey, reflects the Greeks view on religions through their numerous gods and also reflects on the social customs that existed at the time. Odyssey, the wandering King of Ithaca is one of the examples why no one should ever give up in life. Homer made sure to clearly depict the hardship Odyssey faced while at sea. He gets caught up in obstacles after the war coming back home. The gods helped and impeded his return; and they become very angry when annoyed or feel invaded. Like the time when Odysseus and his men helped themselves with food in the cave and when the cyclops Polyphemus returns, despite him being okay at first, he angrily kills two of Odysseus’s men and was preparing Odysseus for his next meal. The long decade was indeed not in vain and involved compromises. The heroic king was not the only one to face hardship while away. His people left behind fought as hard back as well and kept the hopes and efforts in order to save Ithaca. After the invasion of the suitors, Odysseus’s son, Telemachus was not happy at all and he desperately tried to overthrow the suitor but lacks strength strategies. He is not the only to fight back. His mother, Penelope also tried her best remaining loyal to the king and taking care of herself. She was told her husband is dead and must marry one of the suitor and was forced to finish weaving a shroud for Laertes, Odysseus’s father. Another character that helped was Athena, the goddess of wisdom and master of disguised. She had helped Odysseus disguise on numerous occasions and mainly help his return. The story of this epic hero continues to be an important one among several cultures, the Greeks in particular (Victor 41). We will go in depth about the roles females played in the poem and elaborate how they shaped the ancient Greek community.
Despite females being viewed inferiorly in the ancient Greek, they played major roles in the poem; mortal or immortal. Starting with immortals, like the sirens for example. They were evil and dangerous. They often time or rather all the time lure men to their death with their loving and sweet voices. Come here,’ they sang, renowned Ulysses, honour to the Achaean name, and listen to our two voices. No one ever sailed past us without staying to hear the enchanting sweetness of our song-and he who listens will go on his way not only charmed, but wiser, for we know all the ills that the gods laid upon the Argives and Trojans before Troy, and can tell you everything that is going to happen over the whole world.’ (Location 2133). This is very manipulating by the sirens and you can tell this is not their first time doing so. Odysseus was the only one left to tell this side of the story because he was attached to the ship by his men while they had their ears plugged in so he won’t fall for the sirens and is so determined by the help of his men and Circe’s advice to him. It was puzzling when Circe the sorceress actually drugged Odysseus men and turned them into pigs. That tuned into another one of Odysseus’s obstacles as he had to free his men with the help of god Hermes. Even before the release of his men, she seduced Odysseus and had a brief romance before releasing them.
We see the power god females hold throughout the book either they use it for something positive or for selfish reasons. Here, we analyze Athena, the goddess of wisdom and military victory, and also Zeus’s daughter. She has helped Odysseus and his son Telemachus throughout the whole book including where Odysseus ship was wrecked in book 5 and the mismatched battle in book 22, without forgetting the peace of mind she gave Penelope in her dreams. To also add to the list of her tricks, we have to mention the goddess is the master behind the majority of the disguises throughout the book. She disguised as Mentes in book 1 as a trusted family friend in order to empower the son to hold a meeting to kick out the suitors, but he wasn’t strong enough; she also appeared in Odysseus’s wife Penelope’s dream as her sister to let her know her son will return safely, also disguising as Telemachus’ mentor before he goes about his trip to Pylos, as she instructed him previously as Mentes to go there and inquire news about his dad, then she disguised herself as Telemachus to keep an eye on him during the trip. When odyssey returned, she disguised him into a beggar in order to hide his true form. Odysseus is pretty much liked and loved by the women in the book. Not only Athena was helping him because it seemed she was falling for him, she also has a thing for brave warriors. She went to the extent to ask Zeus’s help for Odysseus’s safe return, Book 1. Athena played a lot of important roles that are fruitful to the story, she held it together going up and down to make sure that not only the king returns safely, but he returns to see his son and wife safe and sound as well.
Another character to analyze is Penelope, Odysseus’s wife. A mortal character. Through this woman, we can see the real meaning of loyalty. Just like the Athena, she is strong and wise loyal, brave and most important patient. After her husband’s disappearance for about twenty years, she showed no sign of interest into another man. In fact, when the suitor invaded, she was being forced to get married to one of them because she was still a queen and a king was needed. She is a very smart woman to just lose hope and fall for the marriage. She had to deceive all the admirers by making an excuse that she had to weave a burial shroud for Laertes book 2. That was just a temporary hold on them because the shroud doesn’t take that long and Laertes wasn’t even dead. He went away to grief on his own after his son was not returning. Penelope never gave up. When her husband finally returned, she put him to a test to see if he is really her husband. Bring the bed outside this room, and put bedding upon it with fleeces, good coverlets, and blankets. (Location 3989). She purposely said that because the bed does not move and if he is really her husband, he should know that. He angrily responded wife, I am much displeased at what you have just been saying. Who has been taking my bed from the place which I left it: he must have found it a hard task, no matter how skilled a workman he was, unless some god came and helped him to shift it, (Location 3989). There she knew her husband had finally came back home. Odysseus’s absence took a toll on his mother as well. He didn’t know she passed away until he meets her the spirts world. She tried to hang on but couldn’t any longer but that didn’t change Odysseus goal of returning home.
Women portrayal in The Odyssey could be seen as accurate as it was back in the ancient Greek. Penelope endured almost the same pain as her husband, Odysseus. During his stay with Circe and Calypso, Odysseus was determined fully and never lose sight of the goal of his return to his home and family and continue his life as it was before he left. Be a father, a husband and a king to the people of Ithaca. Penelope personal strength was patience and loyalty, Odysseus’ was intelligence and courage.
Among all the women portrayed in the book either had a good motive, an agenda or justified their actions. In a sense when we think outside of the box of the story, all these women had in common was service. No matter what their motives were, they were serving, either to please the men or themselves. The respect to the women in the book was not given by the suitors but other that the women were respected to a length. They also go to an extent to help the person they care for and being loyal could not be any greater than what Penelope showed. That is in comparison to the women in today’s society. Athena could have used her power for her own good or worst to shift the whole plot with her disguises because no one can tell when she disguises. She could have easily cause a lot of damage.
In conclusion, this masterpiece written by Homer shed a lot of light on the lives of men and women in the ancient Greek lived. Even in modern days, men are still looked or referred to as the superior power, whereas for women, despite the gender equality, certain things still aren’t permissible for women. It took a lot of changes to get to where the world stands today on women and there are still more room for changes. Penelope, Athena and the sirens definitely added more flavor the book in regard to their actions, without forgetting the other females who contributed as well. From one physical war to another, Odysseus shared the same loads as these women in general and too bad for his men as they had no choice but to commit the act they had committed because they were starving. Everyone in the book was a piece of a puzzle which fitted together at the end. Starting from Odysseus leaving, the gods he had encountered as obstacles, to the help received from other gods to the help and fight that was still going on in his home on his behalf.