The Trials of Odysseus
Homer's epic poem The Odyssey was written after his Iliad which told the tales of the Trojan War. This Odyssey told of the wanderings of a prominent warrior and ruler, Odysseus. Odysseus fought in the Trojan War and, after the Greeks claimed their victory at Troy, began his prolonged journey home. During his travels Odysseus faced many obstacles which he had to overcome. Through his wanderings, Odysseus had to prove his valor, intellect, and determination. Incorporated into The Odyssey are many current-day characteristics of man including a constant dependence on others, the presence of a greater vision, or lack there of, and the essence of a sensitive side behind courage and pride.
At times throughout The Odyssey Odysseus didn't think about the consequences of his actions and depended on guidance from the gods to help lead him in the right direction. Odysseus was quick to take action and occasionally made poor decisions that were bound to harm him. Odysseus was eager to fight, even if he had little chance of survival. His impulsiveness resulted in Athena coming down from Mount Olympus to warn him saying "Foolhardy man! Still bent on war and struggle! Will you not even yield to immortal gods? This is no mortal being, but an immortal woe, -dire, hard, and fierce, and not to be fought down. Courage is nothing; flight is best" (116). Odysseus didn't know when to run and leave a situation and when to face and fight. He believed that his courage would pull him through to victory, even against a goddess. Without Athena's wisdom, Odysseus was sure to meet his doom because there was no way that he could defeat the goddess Charybdis.
Odysseus not only depended on immortals to get him out of a mess, but he also depended on them to boost his confidence when he struggled to overcome self-doubt. When Odysseus feared he would fail and began to doubt himself, the gods would come to his aid and encourage him. Athena reassured Odysseus throughout the epic poem saying "I am a god and will protect you to the end, through all your toils" (196). Odysseus became dependent on Athena's encouragement and lacked self-reliance. He believed it was all right to doubt himself because he knew that Athena would always be there to brush the doubt away and encourage him on his journey home.
Odysseus depended on mortals and immortals to boost his confidence and he sought their help, knowing that both would come to his aid because they pitied him. Odysseus' journey home was to prove that he could do something on his own, but the mortals' and immortals' pity constantly helped him along his journey. Odysseus was aware that both men and gods would help him and he said "Oh hear me now, although before though didst not hear me, when I was wrecked, what time the great Land-shaker wrecked me. Grant that I come among the Phaecians welcomed and pitied by them" (61) and so Odysseus foreshadowed what was to come. He knew that when he reached the...