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The Odyssey Essay

1901 words - 8 pages

In order to truly appreciate that pressing themes and lessons presents in Homer’s “The Odyssey”, one must consider the great Greek poet’s other epic, “The Iliad”. In particular, an analysis between the concluding battle scene at the end of “The Odyssey” compared to the themes and values presented throughout “The Iliad” is essential in developing a full comprehension of the text. Not only does Odysseus’s memorable battle with the suitors reignite images of “The Iliad”, as seen in the role rage and emotion plays in both instances, but also acts as a means of contrast between core values, presented between fighting for honor versus fighting for survival as well as the power of a warriors ...view middle of the document...

Another overarching theme of “The Iliad” that had been previously discussed was the role honor played in the lives of the characters. For a prime example, I once again return to the battle scene between Achilles and Hector. In this instance, Hector must choose between the sanctuary of his kingdom’s walls, but in turn receive a “heap [of] disgrace” (Homer Book 22 Line 119) for his retreat, or to “stand up to Achilles, kill him, come home alive or die at his hands in glory out before the walls, (Homer Book 22 Line 129). While the former will more than certainly preserve his life, a chance of achieving honor will be lost. The latter on the other hand will ensure honor, but would swiftly be followed by the end of his life. Hector of course comes to choose pride over life, and engages in a futile battle with the more powerful Achilles, speaking towards the precedence honor took in the lives of the warriors of “The Iliad”. One last reoccurring theme found in “The Iliad” was the portrayal of warrior’s strength, and its importance in dominating foes into submission. Sheer skill and strength won the engagements on the battlefields of “The Iliad”, which comes to explain in part Achilles dominance. Such an example occurs during Achilles pursuit of revenge upon Hector, as seen through the eyes of King Priam. (Will add footnote if possible). Priam’s horrified reaction towards the approaching Achilles suggests how aware the King is that no man can defeat Achilles, with his strength and skill far too much to overcome. The King goes so far as to implore his son to run back into the city gates and avoid near certain death, understanding Achilles dominance as a warrior is unmatched by any man, even a great Trojan warrior such as Hector, “You’ll meet your doom at once, beat down by Achilles, so much stronger than you-that hard, headlong man,” (Homer Book 22 Line 44).
In much of the same way rage plays a predominant role in the motivations of the characters of “The Iliad”, the very same value is showcased in the culminating battle scene of “The Odyssey”. Throughout the majority of the poem, Odysseus is portrayed as a level headed and temperate leader, and seems to avoid falling into the pits of brash human emotion. This admirable characteristic is abandoned however once he reveals his true identity to the suitors during Book XXII. Odysseus refuses to show any forgiveness or pity for the suitors who had overrun his city and taken advantage of his treasures, revealing ferocity uncharacteristic of him in previous sections. This change in demeanor is exemplified in his response to Leodes’s begging for his life, where he callously declares,
“you were diviner to this crowd? How often you must have prayed my sweet day of return would never come, or not for years! -And prayed to have my dear wife, and beget children on her. No plea like yours could save you from this hard bed of death. Death it shall be,” (Homer Book 22 Line 332).
It is very difficult to argue the...

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