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Stories Within The Homer's Odyssey Essay

1049 words - 4 pages

Stories Within Homer's Odyssey Homer's Odyssey begins, not with the story of the hero Odysseus, but rather with a tale of Aphrodite and Ares, as told by Zeus. As this illustrates, Homer frequently has characters within his epic saga relate to other stories. The following discussion of these narratives demonstrates that they perform several purposes within the overall structure of the Odyssey, while simultaneous reflecting the original form of the poem, which was oral. Zeus brief allusion to the story of Aphrodite, Ares, and Agamemnon is to make the point that humans bring a great deal of misery upon themselves, and then blame it on the gods. "Lo, you now, how vainly mortal men do blame the gods" (Book 1). Zeus point is that Odysseus brought his suffering upon himself through his encounter with the Cyclops, which engendered the anger of Poseidon, the god of the sea. Agamemnon was the leader of the Greek forces in the Trojan War. When he returned to Greece, he was slain by his wife Clytemnestra and her lover Aegisthus, Agamemnon's cousin. Ares, Agamemnon's son aided by sister, Electra, eventually revenge their father's murder by killing their mother and Aegisthus. Therefore, by bringing up this story so early in his saga, Homer is subtly suggesting to his audience that Odysseus, also has cause to seek revenge against the suitors that plague his home. Athena responds to her father's complaint against humanity by taking up his story and turning it to her own ends. She acknowledges that Aphrodite deserved his fate, but she argue that Odysseus does not. Zeus has implied that the gods do not bring misfortune to humanity, yet Odysseus appears to be suffering from divine neglect, as he is held captive on Calypso's island. The Agamemnon story appears again soon after this scene when Athena visits Telemachos, Odysseus son, in order to encourage him to stand up to the suitors that plague his home and pursue his mother. Athena reminds Telemachos that Ares won great fame for himself when he killed Aphrodite, and she suggests that a similar reputation can be his, if he will only behave as a warrior. In this manner, Athena tailors the story of Ares to fit her purposes as the wants to cast Telemakhos in the role of an avenging son. This of course, overlooks the fact that Ares also killed his mother, and that suitors had not killed Odysseus as Aphrodite murder Ares father. This however, is indicative of the way that the emphasis in the story is altered by the teller in order to reflect the way that storyteller wants it to affect the characters in the Odyssey saga. The story of Agamemnon's murder occurs several times throughout the poem. Homer even his audience meet Agamemnon's ghost in book ten.As this implies, homer obviously intended his listeners to contrast the story of Odysseus with that of Agamemnon. On one hand, there is the story of a king who returns home easily...

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