Internal Vs. External Sufferings Essay

1351 words - 6 pages

In Homer’s, Odyssey, we witness a strong, dominant character, Odysseus, dealing with a long journey to get back home to his kingdom, his son, Telemachus, and his wife, Penelope. In Apuleius’, The Golden Ass, the protagonist, Lucius, struggles to restore his previous form, from a donkey back to a human. At the ends of both narratives, we see how our characters reach their individual goals. Odysseus’ journey to his goal of reestablishing himself as king and head of household is an internal journey because he himself suffers and he causes suffering to his family, which causes him to suffer even more. Lucius’ journey is more external because the whole purpose of his journey stemmed from greed ...view middle of the document...

Homer does not just use one or two adjectives to describe what Odysseus is going through, he uses multiple words to convey each and every possible feeling Odysseus must have been going through at the beginning of his long and arduous journey.
Odysseus’ suffering is on a personal level because he is worried about the future of his marriage. “When she, shining among women, came near the suitors, she stood by the pillar that supported the rook with its joinery, holding her shining veil in front of her face” (18.208 – 18.210). Odysseus had no choice in the matter, which made the suffering worse. If it was up to him, he would still be there in the palace and Penelope would not have any suitors fighting for Odysseus’ place in the kingdom and in their marriage. Penelope wants to find a new husband because Odysseus’ absence. She is looking to replace him, not just looking for someone to occupy her time. This shows that Penelope is disregarding and throwing Odysseus aside, even though it is not his fault that he went off to war. Trying to replace Odysseus hurts because it was not his choice to leave. If he did not go to war, he would still be there and the suitors would not exist. Homer’s use of the word “veil” (18.210) also shows Penelope’s wanting to find a new husband and her overall disregard for Odysseus, which was another personal hardship that he was going through. While Homer could have used many words, he chose “veil” (18.210) to signify the importance of this aspect and how this played a major role in Odysseus’ internal suffering.
Throughout the Odyssey, Odysseus’ battles with multiple characters are battles most would call impossible. Battling horrifying creatures such as the Lotus Eaters, the Cyclops, and the Siren, one might not understand a higher form of suffering. Believing that Odysseus’ suffering ended because he is back on his own land would be wrong. However, we see here that his internal suffering still stands. In this quote, we witness Odysseus having to fight the suitors and his feelings that it is just as equal as fighting everything else that he had to endure.
“‘Bear up, my heart. You have had worse to endure before this on that day when the irresistible Cyclops ate up my strong companions, but you endured it until intelligence got you out of the cave, though you expected to perish’” (20.18 – 20.21).
Odysseus had to withstand much worse than this but he still considers it suffering. He recounts his whole journey and all the suffering that happened to him and he is equating what lies ahead to the sufferings that he had just endured.
Lucius’ story starts off on a different emotional level. The reader can see him in a different state than Odysseus was in in the Odyssey. Lucius’ decent life and his desires and greed cause him the external sufferings...

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