Odysseus Essay

1488 words - 6 pages

One of the major themes of Homer’s Odyssey is the importance of cunning over strength. This also happens to be the case with Odysseus and his long ten year journey home from fighting in Troy. Odysseus uses his intelligence over strength to ‘fight’ through tough times and bring himself home to Ithaca. Odysseus uses his intelligence when he has his men tie him down while passing the Sirens, so he himself will be able to hear their beautiful song, but not be entranced by their singing. He also uses cunning to escape from the Cyclops’ cave without being harmed. He then uses his cunning by storing away all of the armory, shields, and knives from the suitors so he is able to kill them easily.
Odysseus uses his brain to sail past the Sirens without being entranced by their sweet song. A Siren is a bird-woman who bewitches everyone that approaches. The Siren women sing a seductive song. Their song has many powers. As Nugent says “as in the days of the musician Orpheus, music still has power to soothe the savage beast, to ally anxiety, and to connect with the divine through contemplation” (Nugent 45-54). Circe tells Odysseus, “There is no homecoming for the man who draws near them unawares and hears the Siren’s voices” (Homer XII, 40). . Odysseus follows the advice Circe gave him to put beeswax in his men’s ears so they will not be entranced. Odysseus then tells his men “but she instructed me alone to hear their voices…”(XII, 160), when, truthfully, Circe states, “But if you wish to listen yourself, make them bind you hand and foot on board and place you upright by the housing of the mast, with the rope’s ends lashed to the mast itself”(XII, 49). In this way, Odysseus is being selfish only wishes to know the Siren’s sing so he will be able to gain great knowledge. Odysseus knows that neither he, nor his men, will be able to use strength to get past the Sirens, so he chooses to follow Circe’s words. He also chooses to follow her advice because he is a very curious and inquisitive man who wishes to know everything and anything he can. The Siren’s sing “and we know whatever happens on this fruitful earth” (XII, 192). Nugent says, “the encounter with the Sirens reflects….unfulfilled desire for more: more knowledge, more experience, complete and profound fulfillment” (45-54). After placing the wax in his men’s ears, tying himself down to the mast, and hearing the Siren’s sweet song Odysseus “ order[s] [his] men to set [him] free”( Homer XII, 195); this shows how curious Odysseus truly is and how he longs to have great knowledge. Nugent states this is “…surely a characteristic of Odysseus, who always seeks that which lies beyond his grasp” (45-54). By following Circe’s orders Odysseus is able to have his cake and eat it too. He is able to pass the Siren’s without harm so he can return on his journey home, and he is able to listen to their sweet, bewitching song.
Odysseus’s escape from the Cyclops is one of great intelligence. A Cyclops is a giant...

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