Voyage And Psychological Development In Homer's Odyssey

3328 words - 13 pages

The Voyage and Psychological Development in Homer's Odyssey

 
    Homer's Odyssey arguably stands out head and shoulders above any other piece of epic literature produced by Western civilization for nearly three millennia. Most remarkable is the extent to which the Western hero archetype is to this day still a result of the molding that occurred upon the character of Odysseus so long ago. In imagining a police lineup of the most profoundly influencing protagonists of Western epic poetry, surely Odysseus would impress in stature and roguish airs far beyond the others for is not the gray-eyed Athena, daughter of rain-bringing Zeus himself, bound in devotion to this mortal hero? It is she who repeatedly enhances Odysseus' appearance so as to impress upon others his god-like qualities:

And Athene, she who was born from Zeus, made him
Bigger to look at and stouter, and on his head
Made his hair flow in curls, like the hyacinth flower . . .
So she poured grace upon his head and shoulders. (6.229-35)

In anointing Odysseus in similar fashion throughout the tale of his arduous journey homeward, the ancient as well as modern reader cannot help but look to Odysseus as a role model. Implicit in this behavioral model is one of Homer's many subtexts, namely that having one or more of the gods on one's side is not enough to guarantee even a partial success in one's endeavors. The god Poseidon stands in direct opposition to Odysseus' goal of reaching Ithaca, yet his attacks upon the hero always fall just short of actually killing him. Instead, with each calamity that befalls Odysseus at Poseidon's hand, the hero is faced with a parallel inward struggle. Surviving the physical realm at first seems to be the test when actually it is Odysseus' mental fortitude and perseverance which prevent him from going insane in the face of his physical predicaments; his true victory lies in not giving up his sanity, that part of him which he identifies as himself, his ego. The sea goddess, Leucothea gives voice to Odysseus' singular ability to survive on both land and sea, in the physical and in the psychological realms:

Ill-fated man, why is the earth-shaker Poseidon
So strikingly angry that he spawns you these many ills?
He will not wear you down, however he may desire it. (5.339-41)

The tempering and strengthening of ego by the forces which the gods unleash upon Odysseus function to cement his inward journey along with the external evolution he undergoes from sacker of cities to a man of deep feeling. The end product of such an evolution comprise what was in Homer's time, and remains in ours, the new hero. Odysseus' challenge is not only to think on his feet in battle but to reach a depth of soul engendered from the threats and creatures which defy the ordinary imagination. The Odyssey is the story of one man's encounter with the unconscious and his subsequent survival.

The myth of the new hero, as embodied by Odysseus, stands in sharp relief...

Find Another Essay On Voyage and Psychological Development in Homer's Odyssey

Women in Homer's Odyssey Essay

1961 words - 8 pages of the truth, but it is against Odysseus’ nature. It’s part of what makes him a unique figure, like David or Gilgamesh. He is a great man and a great hero that also has a great weakness.   Works Cited and Consulted David Cohen, "Consent and Sexual Relations in Classical Athens," 5-16. Diana Buitron-Oliver and Beth Cohen,  "Between Skylla and Penelope: Female Characters of the Odyssey in Archaic and Classical Greek Art," pp. 29-58

Leadership in Homer's, The Odyssey Essay

754 words - 4 pages good leader. In the article "Seven Personal Characteristics of a Good Leader", the author, Barbara White informs the reader on the seven qualities of a good leader and explains each characteristic in detail. In Homer's, The Odyssey, the main character Odysseus displays many leadership traits, one of these traits being courage when he encounters the alluring Sirens in the book of "The Sirens". The second characteristic of a leader that Odysseus

Lust in Homer's The Odyssey and Aristophanes’ Lysistrata

1380 words - 6 pages Lust in Homer's The Odyssey and Aristophanes’ Lysistrata Lust is defined as an intense longing or a sexual desire. It is a common theme in literature; particularly in classic Greek literature. The reason it is so prevalent in literature is that is prevalent in our daily lives. Everyone lusts after something or someone. It is an interesting topic to examine closely, and classic literature is an excellent medium for such an investigation

The Gods in Homer's The Iliad and The Odyssey

1408 words - 6 pages The Gods in Homer's The Iliad and The Odyssey The stories told in the Iliad and Odyssey are based on stories handed down over several generations, for they preserve (as we have seen) memories of an already quiet far distant past. The two pomes show clear connection in their language and style, in the manner in which their incidents presented, and in the combination of agreement with level, which distinguish their creation. The work was

Women in Homer's Odyssey, Joyce's Ulysses and Walcott's Omeros

1704 words - 7 pages Women in Homer's Odyssey, Joyce's Ulysses and Walcott's Omeros        This essay explores the role of women in Homer's Odyssey, James Joyce's Ulysses (1922) and Derrick Walcott's Omeros (1990), epics written in very different historical periods.  Common to all three epics are women as the transforming figure in a man's life, both in the capacity of a harlot and as wife.               In Homer's Odyssey, Kirke, represents the catalyst

Characterization in Oedipus the King and Homer's Odyssey

1277 words - 5 pages Characterization in Oedipus the King and Homer's Odyssey The characters in a novel or play are attributed certain characteristics by the author. The opinions one might form of a character are based on these; therefore, the characteristics suggested by an author are intrinsic to the reader having a complete and subjective understanding of a work.  Characteristics are often displayed through a character s actions, in what is said about them

The Funeral Games of Patroklos in Homer's Iliad and Odyssey

2341 words - 9 pages The Funeral Games of Patroklos in Homer's Iliad and Odyssey        Coming towards the end of a war which has consumed an entire decade and laid waste the lives of many, the Greek warriors in Troy choose to take the time and energy to hold funeral games.  This sequence of events leaves the reader feeling confused because it's not something one would expect and seems highly out of place.  Throughout the epic Homer tries to describe what

Deception in Homer's The Odyssey

1384 words - 6 pages Cor. 11: 14). Deception is used for many different psychological reasons and it is used in Homer’s The Odyssey by many characters in the poem, including mortals, gods and goddesses. Odysseus is a man of many faces: war hero, adventure seeker, devout Hellenist when he chooses to be, and even bloody murderer. The face he is most known for in The Odyssey, though, is a cunning and deceitful face. As he is planning to escape the cave of the one

Adolescence of Telemachus and Nausikaa in Homer's Odyssey

967 words - 4 pages Homer's Odyssey introduces us to a wide variety of characters. Two of the younger characters are Telemachus, the son of Odysseus, and Nausikaa, the daughter of King Alkinoos. Both Telemachus and Nausikaa are approximately the same age, although the book is not specific about Nausikaa's age. More importantly, we know that they are both teenagers. Almost all adolescents must make a transition from childhood to young adult and in doing so they

Varying Cultural Structures in Homer's The Illiad and The Odyssey

1180 words - 5 pages Greek mythology deals significantly with culture and its factors, as they describe the societies and the people inhabiting it by depicting their everyday life and the state of their land. Both Hephaestus, in Homer’s Iliad, and Odysseus, in Homer’s The Odyssey, set out to portray the cultures that they saw, yet the cultures and societies varied greatly, from Hephaestus illustrating the highly developed societies of the Greek and their culture

herody Little Heroism in Homer's Odyssey

1397 words - 6 pages Little Heroism in Homer's Odyssey      "Could I forget that kingly man, Odysseus?  There is no mortal half so wise; no mortal gave so much to the lords of the open sky." proclaims Zeus, the king of all gods in Homer's The Odyssey.  He, among countless others, harbors high regards for Odysseus, the mastermind of the Trojan War turned lost sailor.  However, the epic poem is sprinkled with the actions of gods and goddesses pushing

Similar Essays

Concealment And Disguises In Homer's Odyssey

2971 words - 12 pages Concealment and Disguises in Homer's Odyssey     Did you know, that although caves, and disguises play a small literal role in The Odyssey, are major symbols, and sometimes even considered archetypes? Sometimes when quickly reading through a book, one does not pick up on the symbolic interpretation of many images created throughout the book. A man named Homer wrote The Odyssey around 800 B.C. The story was a Greek epic poem

Calypso And Circe In Homer's Odyssey

888 words - 4 pages Calypso and Circe The islands of Circe and Calypso in Homer’s Odyssey are places where Odysseus’ most challenging problems occur. In contrast to battles with men, Cyclops, or animals, sexual battles with women are sometimes much more difficult to win. These two female characters are especially enticing to Odysseus because they are goddesses. Though it is evident that Odysseus longs to return to Penelope in Ithaka, it sometimes

Loyalty In Homer's Odyssey Essay

592 words - 2 pages Loyal Relationships in Homer's Odyssey Loyalty is heroic. Loyalty is defined as faithfulness or devotion to a person, cause, obligations, or duties. In Homer's Odyssey one can see loyalty in many forms. Odysseus is loyal to the gods whom he realized held his life in their hands. Penelope was loyal to Odysseus, while trying not to offend the rude suitors. Telemachus was loyal to a father whom he only knew from the stories he had been told

Life In Homer's Odyssey Essay

1228 words - 5 pages The Odyssey:  Life    Odyssey a long series of wanderings filled with notable experience and hardships, or in other words the journey of life. Homer's The Odyssey is an epic poem telling of one man's journey. Odysseus, the chosen traveler of this Odyssey, represents the will and perseverance of all humanity. Odysseus' journey symbolizes the true toils of mankind's development through, agility, doubt, and faith. In life