While home is usually represented by a physical shelter such as a house, Homer and Euripides in their respective novels The Odyssey and Medea show that home has much more significance as a state where one can comfortably express the values and beliefs that define one’s identity. Both authors use protagonists who are far away from home. These characters often associate with and depend upon other characters they meet. Since they live under the influence of others, it is not surprising then to find that the two protagonists lose their individual identities. Moreover, both protagonists will also purposefully develop a second identity that is designed to conform to the society in which they inhabit. Since both protagonists are away from home for the majority of both works, it would be appropriate to examine, through specific instances, how both authors connect a lack of home with an absence of individual identity.
Both authors show, in instances, the two protagonists of each story dependent upon and governed by others who they encounter. This creates an inadvertent or unwanted loss of identity due to the absence of home. Odysseus finds himself lost at sea while he tries to return to Ithaca. Even as he tries to return to civilian life, he is still influenced by his experiences as a soldier in the Trojan War. In this state, he causes undue harm to others he encounters through unnecessary violence that further deters him from making his homecoming.
From Ilion the wind took me [to]
the Kikonians. I sacked their city and killed their people…
…the luck that came our way from Zeus was evil
The sacking of the Kikonians reveals that Odysseus is still very much immersed within the mentality of war. Before being introduced to Odysseus’ character in Book V of The Odyssey, the reader through other characters like Mentor learns that “godlike Odysseus…was kind, like a father” . This description contrasts with the Odysseus that the reader discovers. Even Zeus, who punishes Odysseus by prolonging his homecoming, detests his actions. Through this, Homer shows the discrepancy between Odysseus’ past nature at home and his present nature after the Trojan War. This indicates that Odysseus still has very much progression ahead of him before he can return to civilian life. As well, this necessitates his wanderings as they would provide adequate time for Odysseus to progress from warrior to civilian.
Medea, like Odysseus, also falls for the influence of others when she chooses to abandon her home in Colchis. She, with “her heart on fire with passionate love for Jason” , initially acts with her emotions rather than with her reasoning. However, upon her discovery of Jason’s infidelity and her learning that she is being banished from Corinth, Medea cries “I am utterly lost” . This moment of revelation becomes the shattering of her misleading emotions toward Jason and the realization of the desperate situation she has foolishly placed...