The Odyssey


The Odyssey, written by Homer, is the story of Odysseus and how 
he faced misfortune in his attempts to return home after the Trojan 
war. From these misfortunes he learned to be a better man and became 
able to regain his place in his homeland of Ithaca. 

 During his journeys Odysseus often makes the mistake of staying 
to boast to his enemies but learns that doing so gives his opposition 
a chance to seek retribution against him. After leaving Troy Odysseus 
attacks the land of the Cicones. Instead of leaving after his victory, 
he stays to celebrate until a force is rallied against him and he must 
flee with many casualties. Afterwards Odysseus and his crew land on 
the island of the Cyclops. They are attacked and some are eaten by 
Polyphemus. After intoxicating the great Cyclops, Odysseus and his 
men blind the monster with a heated spear. The men could have made an 
escape without incident but Odysseus mocked Polyphemus and shouted out 
his real name, when before Odysseus had told him that his name was 
"Noman." With this new information Polyphemus prays to his father
Poseidon to have Odysseus and his men punished. Having angered
Poseidon, they must wander throughout the sea slowly dying one by one. 
Odysseus learns that bragging can have ill effects and uses this 
knowledge on the island of the Phaecians and Ithaca when he does not 
openly boast of his deeds and his journeys. 

 Odysseus also learns to pay close attention to the instructions 
of the gods, or he might have to face a terrible price. When Odysseus 
and his crew landed at the island of Aeolus, they were given a parting 
gift that would have helped them greatly if they had paid heed to the 
warnings of Aeolus. He gave Odysseus a bag full of the bad winds that 
would keep them from their home of Ithaca. Odysseus and his crew were 
in sight of the homeland they had waited so long to see, when a band 
of rebel crewmen opened the bag creating a great gale that blew them 
back to Aeolus. When Aeolus saw this he believed that Odysseus was 
cursed and banished him from the island. This is not the only time 
Odysseus was betrayed by his men and suffered a great price. When 
they landed on the island of Hyperion, bad winds prevented them from 
leaving. Food soon became low; and when Odysseus fell asleep, the 
crew killed the cows of Hyperion against numerous warnings. Hyperion 
was infuriated to see this and had all of Odysseus' men killed in a
great storm. Odysseus learns that the gods must be respected in order 
for any man to succeed.

 During his journey Odysseus uses what he has learned from his 
mistakes to return home and kill the suitors. On the island of the 
Cicones, and with his encounter with Polyphemus, Odysseus learns that 
bragging can bring damaging circumstances. On Ithaca Odysseus never 
brags to the suitors and is able to enter his house without the 
suitors knowing his real identity. He takes the punishment of 
Antinous and the other suitors without saying a word and is able to 
observe those who have invaded his house. Odysseus is able to see who 
is loyal and who is not and take his revenge with the suitors never
knowing who he was until the final moment. Odysseus also learns to 
respect the gods. When he landed on Aeaea, the island of Circe, he 
follows the instructions given to him by Hermes so that he can 
overcome Circe and free his men. Odysseus follows the instructions 
that Circe had given him very closely; entering and leaving Hades 
without misfortune and using wax in the ears of his crew to pass the 
Sirens. Odysseus becomes a better man through his journeys and is 
able to return to his homeland to restore his name. 

 Throughout his wanderings for home, Odysseus becomes a humbler 
and more respectful man. The once boastful man learns that his 
bragging can bring people against him, and is quieter 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. Everytime Odysseus has not been respectful 
he has been severely punished and his trip home delayed. Out of this 
great tragedy he has become a greater man to regain his kingdom and 
live a long life. 


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