The Odyssey

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The Odyssey is the story of an old man (Odysseus) returning home and a young man (Telemachus) venturing out in search of himself. Telemachus, throughout the story, considered the heroic Odysseus as his model.

Throughout the story, there is a constant struggle of the growing Telemachus to imitate the actions of his father and then eventually become like him that he comes to an end of his journey. In the beginning of the poem, Homer does not give any indication to the readers that Telemachus will eventually go on a journey like his father.

Telemachus’s headway towards this goal actually shows how difficult were the goals and ventures of Odysseus. The text of The Odyssey presents a single framed narration of the hero, Odysseys, and the journey of a child, Telemachus, into manhood. This essay will demonstrate the comparisons and contrasts the tale draws between the two central characters of father and son.

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There are distinct similarities between the character of Odysseus and Telemachus. The resemblance are so close that in one account Penelope had to reverse the procedure in identifying the true identity of her visitor as Odysseus.

In Odysseus 4, Helen’s description of Telemachus actually shows the close physical resemblance between the two characters. However, as a character in the book, Telemachus is often found to move under the shadow of his father’s heroic feats.

Odysseus is hailed a hero for his heroic adventures and conquests in the battle of Troy. Telemachus too tries to emulate his father, and like him, goes out on a voyage, but fails to attain full respect like his father. Therefore, a continuous struggle is observed in the text wherein there is continuous comparison between the two characters.

The writer, the readers, does it and even by Telemachus himself who felt that, he could never match up to his father’s valor. In Odyssey 2, the episode in which Telemachus leaves a sword in unlocked room that helped the suitors to possess arms to combat the former.

Odysseus, though had made mistakes, could not be expected of making such a careless mistake. Eurymachus states that Telemachus could never muster the courage and conviction to face the threats of the suitors. In another instance, Leocritus points out that Telemachus may not venture out in a journey even after continues encouragement from his elders.

Homer’s epic poem portrays the character of Telemachus as a son who takes change of situation due to an absent father. Only till the father returns to take back the reigns. Therefore, to a great extent the character of Telemachus and his adventures hs been belittled in the text. However, Telemachus does show a sense of pride in his family and blood when he says that he will not shame his family.

Odysseus is critical of Telemachus when they reunite after the former’s return to Ithaca. Telemachus expresses his doubt on their reunion if the man who had transgressed from a beggar to the state of a hero could really be his father, to which Odysseus answers with impatience that had he not been the real father he would not have returned to Ithaca after twenty years of toiling.

In general, the characters of telemachus and Odysseus reflects on that of an obedient son tied by his duties and a gentle father happy to reunite with his family.

The poem stresses on equality and a cordial relation between Telemachus and Odysseus. However, it cannot be overlooked that the poem is more about Odysseus, who fought at Troy, and his grand heroic adventures and that of a mediocre son who lived a mundane life in the island of Ithaca encompassed by his family duties.

Categories: Identity

Friday, The bodies have long since been

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Friday, September 29, 2000
English 10
How can one learn about a society which has long ceased to exist?
How can one learn about the things that were important to them once their
bodies have been interred for centuries? The bodies have long since been
part of the earth, yet the voices of many of the ancients still waif
clearly through time throughout the art, the music, and the literature they
left as their legacy. A mans lifestyle, beliefs and habits as revealed in
their art mirror the culture that created him. This certainly is true in
the Greek epic The Odyssey because the characters are not just developed
on paper, but actually are the embodiments of the Greek society. In
studying the characters in the epic, it is easy to see many of the values
of the Greeks. Hospitality is certainly a value which that society
esteemed as well as physical beauty and a clever mind. One can see all
these values distinctly in the lives and actions of Odysseus, Telemachus,
and Menelaus.


As The Odyssey opens, the reader is immediately confused. Telemachus
opens his home and prepares a banquet, yet behind closed doors Telemachus
clearly expresses his dislike for the greedy men who seek not only his
mother but all his father’s property. Why would he welcome guests who he
hates? What seems to be a paradox on the surface is actually one of the
values which is most evident in Greek literature — the value of
hospitality. Telemachus himself experiences hospitality but with a slight
variation. This helps us understand even more about the importance the
Greeks placed on this value. When Telemachus sailed into Menelaus’
kingdom, Menelaus did not recognize him at first. Yet, society dictated
that one welcomes everyone, even strangers. From these two men we get a
broad view of this Greek value. It is Odysseus who completes this view
standing in the darkness of the Cyclops cave when confronted by a one-eyed
monster. One of Odysseus’ first comments to the monster deals with the
idea of hospitality. Reminding the Cyclops that honor of others is a
directive from the gods which if ignored would be avenged by the gods. “O
mighty one respect the gods. We are your suppliants, and Zeus is the
avenger of the suppliant and the stranger; he is the strangers friend and
waits on worthy strangers.” (p.85, IX) The reader now can step back form
the epic with a clear understanding of this Greek value. People loved or
hated, known or unknown were to be welcomed and cared for. If this were
not done the gods would punish the rudeness.


Not only did the Greeks value the beauty of actions but they also
valued physical beauty. The heroes of The Odyssey are described as having
physical features which were not only eye appealing but seemed to indicate
their goodness. Menelaus is described as “Light Haired,” “Famous,” and
“Heaven Desended” (p.31,IV) These features made him seem almost god like.

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Numerous times his light hair is mentioned. This is not an accidental
feature but is an archetype of goodness often ascribed to Heroes in
literature. Although the description of Telemachus’ physical features are
limited, what is given is very revealing. Homer tells us that he looked
like his father. Odysseus, the great warrior, lays upon the beach at
Phaeacia, nothing about him indicates his greatness or beauty. It is only
later as he rises up from the water that he is reborn as a beautiful man
with curly hair and glistening skin. It is this beauty that
Menelaus and Helen recognize in Telemachus. “Now I too note it, wife, even
as you suggest; such as were Odysseus’ feet and hands, his turn of eye, his
head, and hair above.” (p.32,IV)
As important as hospitality and physical beauty were in the Greek
value system, it is far more evident that a determined, clever mind focused
steadfastly is a quality that would rank above all others. It is such an
important quality that it becomes one of the themes of the epic. As well
as the major features of the three heroes. From The Iliad, the reader sees
Menelaus, the determined king who fought a ten year war in order to get his
queen back. In The Odyssey, however, we see the cleverness of his
determined mind. As Telemachus, still unknown to Menelaus feasts, Menelaus
overtly seeks to know the identity of his guest. With slight suspicions
that the stranger was related to Odysseus, Menelaus begins an emotional
warfare upon the young guest. Recounting the details of the Trojan War and
describing the deaths of many brave, Greek warriors brings a tear to
Telemachus’ eye revealing not only his emotions but his identity to
Menelaus. In this tear, the reader sees a reflection of this young mans
steadfast determination to find a father he has not yet seen since he was
an infant. Telemachus only knows his father through the stories he has
heard about him. Yet his love for Odysseus causes him to set sail on a
journey to find his father. Though faced with challenges and years of
separation, Odysseus was determined to return to Penelope and Ithaca.

Telemachus is like his father because of his determined mind set. This is
the factor that will eventually bring them both back to Ithaca.

Almost three thousand years ago a group of people sat by a flickering
fire, the breezes from the Aegean Sea blew through their hair, but they
took no notice of the fires warmth or the seas coolness where they were
enthralled by a blind poet with stories about a great war. Probably based
on real events, Homer’s epics are today not seen as works of history. The
Greeks used his epics in their schools to teach about hospitality, physical
beauty and strength, and cleverness of the mind. These virtues which were
most important to the Greeks live on today in The Odyssey. Centuries have
passed since the time of Homer, we cannot sit by the fire listening to his
stories. We can only hold his epic on our lap and travel on the adventures
road with his heroes, and when we have finished we will not only have read
a classical piece of literature but we will know a centuries dead culture
much better.

Categories: Music

My the nature of a desire in

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My essay on The Odyssey by Homer (TRANSLATED BY ROBERT FAGLES). My personal notes will be added in []’s, the rest is straight from the instruction sheet. Assignment: Which two of man’s greatest desires create the most suffering in a person’s life and/or society? Write a 4-paragraph essay in which you analyze the destructive nature of two desires. Use the events in The Odyssey to support your points. “USE COMPLEX SENTENCES! EVERY SENTENCE COUNTS! ” Required Structure of Essay in Chronological order: -Title, author, brief summary (1-2 sentences max) Intro topic – the nature of a desire in general according to S. Freud (1-2 sent. max) -Thesis Statement (already assigned) – “Characters in The Odyssey struggle to control their desires. However, it is through the struggle with the Id [Sigmund Freud, philopsipher’s word for desire and ego] that mankind and society evolve. TOTAL SENTENCES: 4-6 max. TWO Body Paragraphs (same structure for each) -Topic sentence – each one argues different desire (not about the Odyssey) (1 sent. max) -Expansion on why desire is a problem to man (1-2 sent. ax) -Connection to the epic [The Odyssey] (1-2 sent. max) -Set-up evidence/example from epic (2-3 sent. max) -Key passage with MLA citation (1 sentence max. ) -Analysis of the long-lasting effect of the desire in the epic (2-3 sent. max) TOTAL SENTENCES: 8-12 max. Conclusion -Conclude how mankind and/or society has positively evolved as a direct result of struggling with the Id or his desires. -Idea must move BEYOND the literary work “The conclusion can only be written because of your body paragraphs! ” TOTAL SENTENCES: 3-4 MAX.

Categories: Events

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