The Odyssey Books Writing Assignment
Odysseus returns to Aeaea, where he buries Elpenor and spends one last night with Circe. She describes the obstacles that he will face on his voyage home and tells him how to avoid them. As he sets sail, Odysseus and his men approach the island of the lovely Sirens, and Odysseus, as instructed by Circe, plugs his men’s ears with beeswax and has them tie him to the mast of the ship. The Sirens’ song is so captivating that Odysseus begs to be released from the mast of the ship, but his faithful men keep him tied. Once they have passed the Sirens’ island, Odysseus and his men must get through Scylla and Charybdis. Scylla is a six-headed monster who, when ships pass, swallows one sailor for each head. Charybdis is an enormous whirlpool that is known to swallow entire ships. As he and his men approach Charybdis, the heads of Scylla swoop down and gobble up six of the sailors. Odysseus next comes to Thrinacia, the island of the Sun. A storm keeps them stuck there for a month, and when the food runs out Eurylochus persuades the other crew members to disobey Odysseus and slaughter the cattle of the Sun. They eventually do so one afternoon as Odysseus sleeps. When the Sun finds out, he asks Zeus to punish Odysseus and his men. Shortly after they set sail, Zeus kicks up another storm, which destroys the ship and sends the entire crew to its death beneath the waves. Only Odysseus survives. After some time, Odysseus eventually reaches Ogygia, Calypso’s island.
There were many decisions made in the Odyssey – some were more important than others, but all decisions made had consequences, no matter how small. In the Odyssey by Homer, generally Odysseus and his men made a lot of decisions that lead to some very negative effects. The first bad decision that Odysseus made was poking Polyphemus’ eye out. Even though Odysseus had to do something to escape, poking the Poseidon’s son’s eye was not a very good idea. To make matters worse, Odysseus bragged about his accomplishment later. After Odysseus and his men left the Island of the Cyclopes they stopped at Aeolia, the island of Aeolus (the wind god). Aeolus was very gracious and gave Odysseus a bag full of the winds. The bag had the winds that was putting them of course and Aeolus told Odysseus not to open the bag until they got back to Ithaca. But while Odysseus was one of his crew members opened the bag which added 10 extra years to get back home. In addition, Odysseus was not the only person who made bad decisions. Odysseus’s men, having led to believe Odysseus was hiding treasure, so Odysseus’s men thought that the bag of winds was really a bag of treasures that he was keeping for himself. Because the men didn’t trust Odysseus, they opened the bag of winds which sent them back to Aeolus’s island. If the men would have trusted in Odysseus and believed him, they would never have even thought about opening the bag, and they would have gotten home much sooner.
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Compare and Contrast:
Through reading Homer’s The Odyssey, we get a glimpse of Greek society. The society and culture that is shown in the epic can be seen today but can also seem outdated in modern society. Unlike our current society, the head of the household in ancient Greek society was always the man, with the wife having almost no authority. This is illustrated in the beginning of The Odyssey, with references to Penelope and Telemachus. In our society now, women can be the head of the house hold but it is mainly a shared authority. Also, the ancient Greeks value extreme physical strength. This importance is shown in the scene where a man taunts Odysseus to be a part of the games and to see if he has the strength that he says he has. While in our society today physical strength can be important, intelligence is seen as a greater quality. Finally, proper rituals are very important throughout The Odyssey. There were proper rituals for guests, proper ways for guests to respond and specific burial practices. Throughout the epic this idea was shown many times like when Odysseus was welcomed in Scheria and how he wanted a proper burial for Elpenor. This is related to our society and the rules of hospitality because in most social situations a household would give hospitality to all guests who come and are welcomed into their home.