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The Osyssey Essay, Research Paper

The Odyssey The Odyssey, written by Homer, is not your typical everyday story. One of the greatest works of all western literature, the epic is filled with an astounding amount of vigor. The Odyssey was written in a very unique diction, displays an amazing plot, presents two main themes, and introduces us to well developed truly memorable characters. Looking deeper into these literary characteristics, we can see why The Odyssey is one of the greatest literary works. Homer wrote the epic in a very impersonal, formal metrical verse, using language that is not typically used for normal speech. The actual style used is called dactylic hexameter, which is when a poet uses poetic meters consisting of six metrical feet, while placing an accent on one syllable followed by two unaccented syllables or one long syllable followed by two short syllables. Surprisingly enough when reading the epic it reads similar to a song, almost as if it were written to flow with great ease. His word selection is also outstanding; it sets the mood for many of the adventures allowing the reader to become caught up in the story. In his description of the adventure, you feel almost overcome with curiosity while reading. One major thing I noticed while reading the Odyssey, is the absence of color in a poem that was written with an amazing amount of detail, however I am unsure of the reason for this. The plot of the Odyssey consists of the journey taken by the main character Odysseus while returning from the Trojan War. The opening scenes show the disorder that has arisen in Odysseus’ household during his long absence. A band of suitors is destroying his property as they attempt to steal his wife Penelope. The focus then shifts to Odysseus himself. The story tells of his ten years of traveling, during which he has to face such dangers as the man-eating giant Polyphemus and such subtler threats as the goddess Calypso, who offers him immortality if he will abandon his quest for home. The second half of the poem begins with Odysseus’ arrival at his home island of Ithaca. Here, exercising great patience and self-control, Odysseus tests the loyalty of his servants. He plots and carries out a bloody revenge on Penelope’s suitors, and is reunited with his son, his wife and his aged father. You cannot help but enjoy the way Homer constructs the plot. Odysseus is always escaping danger, leading the reader deeper and deeper into the story line. The great thing about it is that through all of Odysseus’ adventure’s, on his way home, his character begins to change. Homers’ use of characters in the Odyssey is remarkable. There are a total of forty-one characters introduced in the story. All of which is some way are influential to the main character Odysseus. These characters all are extremely diverse yet there is an overwhelming amount of taught put into each role created. Some of the people are so far out there, such as Ployphemus the one-eyed Cyclops that Odysseus blinds after getting him drunk. If you look into the fact that he has one eye and then gets blinded it shows that the entire focus of the character Ployphemus was his eyes. Tiresias is another character in the epic that is also inflicted with blindness. He is the most famous of all Greek seers. The legend was that in compensation for his blindness the gods had given him his awesome visionary powers. Odysseus consults his spirit while in Hades. I find it to be quite interesting that Homer was blind and in the epic written by him, he gives us two characters that are also blind. He could be putting his own personal ideas and visions in the story through the use of the characters Ployphemus and Tiresias. Homer even goes to the extreme of covering all aspects of Odysseus home life right down to his dog Argus, who recognizes his master and dies after his return home. It amazes me that the author would go to that much detail to bring a dog into the story. Yet, it is presented in such a masterful way, that it makes so much sense in the story.

The main character of Odysseus is tremendously well taught out and put together. You have a man with limited awareness living in the land of Ithaca with his wife, son Telemachus and none of them are aware of what role the war will play in his life. He then is asked to come join the journey to Troy, increasing his awareness. However, at first he is reluctant to change he refuses the invitation because he does not want to leave his peaceful homeland. Then after some convincing he commits to the war. While at the war he experiments with in, his own personal self by showing his bravery and mind however he undergoes so may changes from the time he first left to when he returns. Throughout his wanderings for home, Odysseus becomes a more humble and respectful man. The once boastful man learns that his bragging can bring people against him, and is more quite than before he left for Troy. He also learns that the immortal gods of Olympus can be merciful and bring great prosperity, but they also punish those that disobey their wishes. Each time Odysseus is not respectful, he has been severely punished and his trip home delayed. Out of his great tragedy, he has become a greater man to regain his kingdom and live a long life. What more could you ask for in a main character. Homer first introduces us to a man who fears nothing and converts him into a very smart caring individual, who in the end prevails through all of the obstacles that stood in his way. Penelope also plays a major role in the epic. She is the wife of Odysseus, and she is a very serious and industrious person. As well as a perfect wife and mother in many aspects. The most interesting thing about her character is her name. Throughout the story, she weaves and the name Penelope when translated means one whom weaves. Once again, Homer marvels us with symbolism. He has his character play a role as a weaver in the epic and gives her a name that held the same meaning as her actions. She is also a smart character by eluding the suitors and marriage by weaving by day and taking all of what she had accomplished out at night. Telemachus, the son of Odysseus and Penelope, is just entering man hood and is very self-conscious about his duty, and his father’s reputation as a hero. Telemachus feels that he must live up to his fathers’ reputation. Through the relationship that is presented to us between father and son, we uncover a theme that is present in the epic. This theme is that man is not complete with out his father. Telemachus needs his father and wants his father present all through out the story. He refuses to believe that Odysseus is dead and stands up for the throne and his mother, in his fathers’ absence.This theme is smaller than what I see as the main theme in The Odyssey. Fate is definitely a reoccurring theme present in the epic. It is fate that determines all of which Odysseus must concur. It is shown in the wind that blew him place to place, the weather that caused him problems, his men betraying him and bring more trouble for him, and him being reunited with his family are all examples of fate playing a major role in the events that took place.With so much put into one piece of literature one can see why the Odysseys’ story will continue to be passed on from generation to generation. With the presentation of the story in poetic form, the characters we meet and become a part of, and the themes we uncover from within the words, the Odyssey becomes part of you.


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