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The Road Home Essay

1163 words - 5 pages

In Homer's poem, the Odyssey, self-restraint is a major theme and directly impacts the progress of Odysseus' journey home. A close look at the different encounters with the Cyclops, the Sungod, and the suitors reveals that self-restraint can cause the journey to progress, while a lack of self-restraint can cause the journey home to be delayed or even end for some.
Odysseus' encounter with the Cyclops contains examples of both self-restraint and a lack of self-restraint. When Odysseus and his crew first reach the Cyclops' territory, they land on an island very near the Cyclops shore. Odysseus states, ". . . so near / we could even see their smoke, hear their voices . . ." (9.184-85). This ...view middle of the document...

585-95). Self-restraint got Odysseus and his men out of trouble, but now a lack of self-restraint is going to bring them more trouble.
Odysseus and his crew reach the island of the Sungod Helios after a very difficult voyage past various monsters. Odysseus wants to continue on, but his crew begs him to stop so that they can rest and recover from their ordeal. Odysseus agrees to this, but makes his crewmen swear that they will not touch Helios' herds of cattle and sheep (12.321-27). Circe has provided them with plenty of food and drink. Unfortunately, the winds persist in blowing the wrong direction. Odysseus and his men are unable to set sail for a month. Their food begins to run out, so they begin hunting and fishing, but are unable to provide enough food to satisfy their hunger (12.350-58). Odysseus goes off to pray to the gods for a way home and while he is gone, his crew is unable to resist the temptation offered by all those cows and sheep just waiting to be slaughtered. When Odysseus returns, he finds that his men have been feasting on Helios' cattle. The Sungod is very angry and calls on Zeus to punish the crew. Zeus tells Helios, "And as for the guilty ones, why, soon enough / on the wine-dark sea I'll hit their racing ship / with a white-hot bolt, I'll tear it into splinters" (12.416-18). Seven days later, Odysseus and his men are finally able to set sail. Once the island is out of sight, Zeus sends a terrible storm and the ship is struck with lightening. The ship is destroyed and everyone drowns except Odysseus. A lack of self-restraint cost all of Odysseus' men their lives and ends their journey home. Odysseus survives, but his journey home will be severely delayed since he no longer has a ship and crew to get him there.
Seven years later, Odysseus finally reaches his home of Ithaca. His self-restraint is soon to be put to the test again. Odysseus has no idea what things are like in Ithaca. He has been gone twenty years and while he is tempted to race to the castle to greet his wife, Athena urges him to wait. She disguises Odysseus as a...

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