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Homer's Odyssey: Themes Of Homecoming And Reunion

3290 words - 13 pages

Theme of Homecoming and Reunion in Homer's Odyssey


      The theme of The Odyssey is one of homecoming and reunion with

loved ones.  Though the proem of the epic states that Odysseus' own purpose

is simply the fight to save his own life and return his shipmates home

safely, the gods of Olympus are the unknown captains of this journey.  It

is an epic story of the making of men, mainly Odysseus and Telemakhos.

Homer methodically details the  struggles set forth by the gods.  The

contests of Odysseus' wisdom, honor, piety and prudence.  These tests of

will prove Odysseus 'master mariner and soldier', truly virtuous and

capable.  He becomes not only the last hope of those still true and loyal,

but he is the only one who can discern the proper course of action in the

re-ordering of his house and his household.


      In the opening of the epic, the gods, at home upon great Olympus,

sit in conversation reflecting upon the pride of men.  One example being

Agisthos, who is run amuck with greed and pride.  Zeus' remark that "Greed

and folly will double suffering in the lot of man..."  is indeed the

standard by which men are judged to be the Shepherd or the wolf.  It is

greed and folly, which are the marks of impious men, men who engage in

improper feasting.  Worse still are those who give into temptation after

long suffering, for it denies them the knowledge of the good; namely virtue.


      Of improper feasting there are numerous examples, from the

gluttonous behavior of the suitors and the cannibalism of the Kyklops, to

Odysseus' own shipmates who kill and feast on the cattle of Lord Helios,

the Sun.  As illustrated by the text, improper feasting is a sin against

the order of Zeus and thus the order of men.  Telemakhos recognizes the

wrong done against him and his household. The youth of Telemakhos prevents

him from doing more than sitting by in mute fury, but it is the visitation

of Athena that unlocks his silent disgust.  He reveals to the goddess that

the feast of the suitors is plunder, and their acts rapine.  He tells

Menthos (Athena in disguise) that the suitors  lives are easy and scot-free.


 At the assembly, Telemakhos' remarks are quick and to the point.  "My home

and all I have are being a pack they came...these men [that]

spend their days around our house killing our beeves and sheep and fatted

goats, carousing, soaking up our good dark wine, not caring what they do.

They squandered everything."   In response to this, Antinoos gives a brash

reply, claiming that it is Telemakhos that judges them wrongly.  He mislays

the blame upon Penelope, who has contrived all these years to deceive the

suitors and avoid a...

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