The Odyssey, written by Homer, tells the story of Odyseus andhow he faced
misfortune in his attempts to return home after the Trojan War. Odysseus is not
famous for his great strength or bravery, but for his abilty to deceive and trick.
To his friends, he was a brilliant stragtgist. To his enemies, he was a decever
and a manipulator of the worst kind.
During his journeys Odysseus often makes the mistake of bragging to his enemies but
learns that doing this gives his enemies a chance to seek revenge against him. After
leaving Troy, Odysseus attacks the land of the Cicones. Instead of leaving after
his victory he stays to celebrate until a force is gathered against him. He must then flee after
many of his men are killed. Afterwards Odysseus and his crew land on the island of the
Cyclops. they are attacked and som eof the men are eaten by Polyphemus. After getting
the giant Cyclops drunk, Odysseus and his men blind the monste with a spear in his one eye.
The men could have made an escape without misfortune but Odysseus mocked Polyphemus
and shouted out his real name, when before Odysseus had told Polyphemus that his name
was “Noman.” With this new information Polyphemus prays to his father, Peoeidon,
to have Odysseus and his men punished. Becaused he angered Peoeidon, Odysseus must
wander throughout the sea while his men slowly die one by one. Odysseus learns that
bragging can have ill effects and uses this knowledge on the island of Phaecians and
Ithaca when he does not openly bray about his deeds and his journeys.
Odysseus also learns to pay close attention to the instructions of the gods, or he
might hve to face a terrible price. when Odysseus and his crew landed at the island of
Aeolus, they were given a parting gift that would have helped if they had paid attention
to the warnings of Aeolus. He gave Odysseus a bag full of the bad winds that would
keep them from their home of Ithaca. Odyseus and his cre were in sight of the
homeland they had waited so long to see, when a hand of rebel crewmen opened the bag.
because they thought it contained treasures, creating a great gale that blew them back to
Aeolus. When Aeolus saw this he believed that Odysseus was cursed and banished him
from the island. this is not the only time Odysseus was betrayed by his men and suffered
a great price. When they landed on the island of Hyperion, bad winds prevented them
from leaving. Food soon became low, and when Odysseus was asleep, the crew killed
the cows of Hyperion against the god’s warnings. Hyperion was enraged to see this and
had all of Odysseus’ men killed in a great storm. After the storm all Odyessus had
left was his own strenght and the favor of Athena. Odysseus learned that the gods
must be respected in order for any man to succeed.
During his journey Odysseus used what he has learned from is mistakes to return
home and kill the suitors of his wife. On the island of Cicones,and with his
enoucnter with Polyphemus, Odysseus learned that bragging can bring great misfortune.
On Ithaca Odysseus never brags to the suitors and is able to enter his house with the
Antinous and the other suitors knowing his real identity. He takes the punishment of
Antinous and the other suitors without saying a word and is able to see those who have
invaded his house. Odysseus is able to see who is loyal and who is not and take
his revcenge with the suitors never knowing who he was until the final moment. Odysseus
also learned to respect the gods. When he landed on Aesea, the island of Circe, he
follows the instructions give to him by Hermes so that he can overcome Circe and fre
his men. Odysseus follows the instructions that Circe had given him very closely,
entering and leaving Hades without misfortuen and using was in the ears of his crew
to pass the Sirens. Odysseus becomes a better man thoroughout his journeys and is able
to return to his homeland to regain his kingdom.
After spending years with the goddess Calypso, Odysseus is offered a choice of either
living on the island with Calypso and becoming immortal like the gods, or he could return to his
wife and country and be mortal like the rest. He chooses to retrun home. The Odyssey
has a noticeable theme, it is the nature of mortal life, why any human beng would, if offered
the chance to be a god, still chose to be mortal. the choice becomes apparent when
Odysseus meets the ghost of Achilles in the Underworld. Odysseus remarks to Achilles
how all the shades of the dead must worship and serve Achilles, but Achilles replies
that he would rather be the meanest and most obscure slave of the poorest landholder
than be the most famous of the dead. Much of the book deals with the nature of human
civilization and human slavery.
Throughout his wandersin for home, Odysseus becomes a humbler and more
respectful man. The once boastful man learns that his bragging can turn people against
him, and is quieter than before he left for troy. He also learns that the immortal gods of
Olympus can be merciful and bring great fortune, but they also punish those that disobey
their wishes. Every time Odysseus had not been respectful he has been severely punished
and his trip home delayed. Out of this great tragedy he has become a greater man to
regain his kingdom and live a long life.