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Loyalty in The Odyssey

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on 5 October 2015

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Transcript of Loyalty in The Odyssey

So why is Eumaeus' loyalty so important now?
Some of the suitors are actually men from Ithaca, Odysseus' own homeland. This shows that they are disloyal to their King because not only are they courting his wife and stealing all his food/slaughtering his property (pigs/cattle) for their feasts, but they are plotting to kill Prince Telemachus and Odysseus if he is ever to return to the island.
why Eumaeus' loyalty is so important now cont.
Because Eumaeus remains true to his king, this means that Odysseus will have at least one more follower besides just relying on himself and his son to rid his house of suitors.
In order for Odysseus and his family to remain in power, they need followers behind them or else they will be overthrown by the suitors, Odysseus and Telemachus will be killed, and Penelope will be married off to the victor.
Is he only showing loyalty to Odysseus or is there more?
He proves loyalty to the community by helping out a fellow man in need when he says: "rudeness to a stranger is not decency, poor though he may be, poorer than you" (lines 67 & 68).
He proves loyalty to the gods when he says: "All wanderers and beggars come from Zeus. What we can give is slight but well-meant" (lines 69-71). He also "cut and burnt a morsel for the gods" (lines 526-527).
In what ways does he prove his loyalty to Odysseus?
Almost the very first thing he says to the disguised Odysseus is that he is loyal to his missing king. Beginning on line 47, Eumaeus says: "my master gone, true king that he was. I hang on here mourning for him, raising pigs of his..."
He also says, "Not even...my own parents...I miss them less than I do him...it is the lost man I ache to think of-- Odysseus. And I speak the name respectfully, even if he is not here. He loved me, cared for me. I call him dear my lord, far though he be" (lines 170-177).
Thank you!
Loyalty
Do you think loyalty is quite as valued today as it was by the Ancient Greeks; can this be applied universally?
Loyalty in The Odyssey
by Genevièvre Gray
Why was loyalty so important in Greek culture?
loyalty to family
loyalty to community
loyalty to gods

Although Eumaeus is not one of the main characters of the Odyssey, he becomes very important in the last section of the book. Loyalty, one of the most important character traits he embodies, is proven in book 14, Hospitality in the Forest.
Loyalty is ultimately one of the greatest themes depicted in The Odyssey. We have already seen that loyalty is very important, for Penelope's loyalty to her husband provides a stark contrast to both Helen's disloyalty to Menelaus and to Clytemnestra's disloyalty to and ultimately murder of her husband, Agamemnon. Telemachus, too, proves his loyalty to family by trying to find news of his missing father rather than giving up and partying with the suitors in his house.
Even some of the maids are disloyal to the family and betray Penelope earlier on in the story.
More ways he proves his loyalty
Rather than going to sleep when his guest does, he goes outside to guard the herd. "not in the hut could he lie down in peace, but now equipped himself for the night outside... to keep at a distance dogs or men...out in the wind and rain" (lines 621-631). This shows that even when he thinks his master is not watching he is still doing his job (despite the cold/rainy weather). Without Eumaeus caring for Odysseus' pigs, Odysseus would have had practically nothing to come home to.
Proving his loyalty to Odysseus' family is an extension of his loyalty to his master. He only has good things to say about Penelope and Telemachus, and he praises both of them for remaining loyal to the missing king. He also does not want to see Penelope hurt further by receiving false news about the whereabouts of her missing husband and tells the "beggar" not to play on Penelope's vulnerability for handouts (lines 149-160).
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