The Odyssey, By Homer, Is An Epic

1101 words - 4 pages

An epic is a long, episodic narrative poem that recounts the adventures of a historical or mystical hero. Episodic narratives have a larger story broken down into closely connected, but individual and separate sections. Some important qualities that distinguish an epic are unrealistic antagonists, the Gods and Goddesses playing important roles, and a story involving the re-establishment of a proper leader. “The Odyssey”, by Homer, is an epic because Odysseus (the hero) faces supernatural antagonists, the gods and goddesses play an important role, and Odysseus is being restored as a rightful leader.
Throughout the story, Odysseus faces several supernatural antagonists. One of these antagonists is a creature named Scylla. In a daring and dangerous section of the epic, the story mentions, “He and his crew must pass between Scylla and Charybdis. Scylla is a terrifying monster with six heads. She dwells in a high rocky cave, devouring sailors in ships that pass close by.”(Homer 617) Scylla is a supernatural monster because no large creatures have been identified in the world to have six heads. She is Odysseus’ antagonist because in this particular section, Odysseus must challenge the monster by sailing close by, without losing sailors. However, Scylla devours six of his men, one for each head. Therefore, by losing his men to Scylla, the monster is noticeably an antagonist. Prior to the encounter with Scylla, Odysseus faces a one-eyed monster named Polyphemus. Polyphemus lives in the land of the Cyclops, and Odysseus is eager to meet this “mountain king”. An excerpt from the story of the Cyclops Odysseus reports, “…but in one stride he clutched at my companions and caught two in his hands like squirming puppies to beat their brains out, spattering the floor. Then he dismembered them and made his meal, gaping and crunching like a mountain lion…”(Homer 606) In this quote the “he” that is mentioned is a monster because he was able to clutch two men in his hands like squirming puppies. A regular human is incapable of performing that feat. The being must be enormous and supernatural in order to be able to hold two men in his hands with ease. The monster is an antagonist in the story because he is putting Odysseus at a disadvantage in his quest by preventing the escape of Odysseus and his men. During the story, Odysseus faces several supernatural antagonists including Scylla and Charybdis, and the Cyclops. However, supernatural antagonists are not the only things that make “The Odyssey” an epic.
Odysseus and his crew receive help from and face many gods and goddesses. One example of these Gods is Zeus. In the story Zeus exclaims “Let me throw down one white-hot bolt, and make splinters of their ship in the Winedark sea”. (Homer 627) Zeus is talking from his point of view in the statement. In Greek Mythology, Zeus is the king of all gods and his lightning bolt is a symbol of his power. Zeus makes himself important by...

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