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The Journey of Odysseus
Transcript of The Journey of Odysseus
Ismaros, The Land of the Cicones
The first stop on Odysseus’ journey is Ismaros. Odysseus and his men loot and robbed the inhabitants of the land, known as the Cicones. Odysseus, looking to quickly leave the land, ordered his men to board the ships. His men, as for other times throughout the poem, disobeyed Odysseus. The men decided to sleep on the beach until the next day. Of course, with this disobedience comes consequence. The consequence was when the Cicones came back to fight the next morning, and many men from Odysseus’ crew were lost, along with the storms that came along after and pushed Odysseus’ ships off course. The carelessness of Odysseus' men ended in death for some of their crew.
Land of the Cyclops Polyphemus
The land of Polyphemus stands as another obstacle for Odysseus. Polyphemus being a cyclops with cannibalistic ways gave Odysseus and his men more trouble along their journey. Using wine and a wooden stake to escape the clutches of the cyclops, only some of Odysseus' men escape.
When Odysseus and his men visit Circe, of course comes along another obstacle. Staying one year with Circe shows that Odysseus is not going to turn away any female attention (Belmont, 50). This was proven when he decides to give Circe his love to have his men be turned back into humans after they had been turned into pigs. Circe feeding Odysseus' men wine, cheese, and turning them into pigs was part of her plan to keep Odysseus since her attraction to him was strong. The act of Circe turning the men into pigs can be seen as, possibly, how Circe views men. Or how women in Homeric Greece view men. Of course the pig was chosen for a reason. This could lead to the assumption that Circe viewed the men as pigs, maybe they treated women inappropriately. Circe also brings up another point about women in Homeric Greece. Circe lived in a hidden area away from people (Schoder, 320). This makes people think about possibly how women were hidden away in some places. Even though most women in this time period seemed very comfortable with their sexuality, that could have caused them to be hidden away, like Circe. Another thing about Circe that cannot be ignored, it her turning people who leave her or threaten her into animals. This shows Circe's worry possibly about men leaving her, or even her anger towards men. A lot of the characteristics about Circe seem to show that maybe men have not respected her. Circe is a great example of Homer always making his female characters beautiful. Circe is shown in pictures and videos as a very gorgeous being, and this Circe did use to her advantage with Odysseus. Again, temptation coming into play within this poem.
The Big Questions
In the end, what is home to Odysseus? Does he feel that Ithaka is his home after his long journey?
Odysseus’ journey begins traveling away from Troy. After fighting in the Trojan war, Odysseus and his men begin their long, grueling journey back to Ithaka. Along the way it seems that Odysseus’ men seem to fall off of their course. Meaning that they forget the most important thing: to return home. Throughout the poem, it is seen that Odysseus’ men are selfish and refuse to listen to Odysseus’ commands. This eventually will come back to bite them, and make the journey back home not so pleasant. Along the way back to Ithaka, temptation and greed seem to play a big role within the soldiers and Odysseus. Along with sexuality. Also, during the poem, women begin to play a role during the journey as well. Over the course of this poem, it is easy to see that a journey that was supposed to take a few weeks, takes a longer ten years.
The Land of the Lotus Eaters
The land of the lotus eaters shows how sensuality can rob men of their identity (Belmont, 51). When Odysseus' men fell into the temptation of eating the lotus fruit, they faced the consequences of the affects on their body and mind. The lotus fruit ultimately made the men fall into a deep sleep, and made them not care about returning home. Again, Odysseus deals with disobedience from his men. Forcing them back onto his ship, they continue their journey.
The Land of the Lotus Eaters
The Lotus Eaters in the poem can symbolize numerous things. They symbolize a mental obstacle for Odysseus and his men, along with temptation. The Land of the Lotus Eaters was definitely a bigger obstacle for Odysseus' men, after falling under the Lotus fruit's side effects. The Lotus fruit also can symbolize the disregarding of life and not having to worry about anything else in the world. For example, when the lotus fruit makes Odysseus' men no longer want to return home. The state of Odysseus' men after consuming the Lotus fruit can also symbolize the way that Odysseus is feeling after the war and his mental state. Weary, and wanting to escape the life of fighting in the war, since he had been fighting for so long.
The Land of the Cyclops
Polyphemus tests Odysseus' skills. Using wine to intoxicate the cyclops is showing the temptation, again within the poem. It shows ultimately how the consumption of wine can negatively affect the outcome of a situation. Even if it was in favor of the main character, Odysseus. In some sources it explains why some readers feel pity for the cyclops. Losing his eyesight, being tricked by Odysseus, and losing his flock of sheep which is something that the cyclops cared for. Also, being abandoned by his fellow neighbors when he is tricked by Odysseus into saying that "Nobody" put out his eye (Newton, 137). Some pity can be felt for the cyclops even though he is seen as the antagonist of this part of the poem.
The women in the Land of the Lotus eaters are shown as very sexual and promiscuous. The way that they act and dress around the men helps them lure the men into eating the lotus fruit. This kind of female attention shown is too much for Odysseus' men to handle. Art from this time period shows that maybe women in the world of Odysseus were more open about their sexuality.
Aiolia serves as a place for Odysseus and his men to receive some hospitality. The Land of Aeolus is one of the lands that is imaginary in this poem while others are argued to be real (Schoder, 319). The floating land was a safe place for Odysseus and his men. The danger of giving too much responsibility to others is shown when they depart from the floating land (Belmont, 55). When a bag of winds is given to Odysseus from Aeolus to help them return home, jealousy and curiosity causes Odysseus' men to open the bag, releasing all of the winds. Because of their actions, their ship was blown back to Aiolia just as Ithaka was in sight. The punishment for their jealousy and curiosity was that Aeolus refused to helo them when they returned.
Not only do the Sirens show the ultimate consequence of temptation, but they also stand for the sexuality of women during this time period. Sirens were seen during this time as young and pure maidens (Aasved, 383). But other works have shown them as having the upper body of a beautiful women, and the lower body of a bird, although Homer suggested that they were entirely human (Aasved, 383). The singing that lured ships into the rocky coast represented the desperation that Odysseus had to approach them. This was something that Odysseus wanted but could not have. This area of the poem was one example where Odysseus' men obeyed him, and they successfully passed through without any problems with the Sirens. Again, these Sirens were shown as beautiful, because in Homer's view, all women were considered, and seen as beautiful (North, 42).
Calypso indeed did want Odysseus' company, and offers him immortality to stay with her (Abrahamson, 314). Odysseus does stay with Calypso for seven years because she will not let him go. It could cross the mind that Odysseus does give into Calypso because of the regular occurrence of temptation. But, Calypso is not another women to Odysseus. Calypso is seen as a bigger help to Odysseus when she finally lets him carry on with his journey. She helps him construct a raft which ultimately really helps him with returning home (Schoder, 322 ). Calypso could be seen as representing loneliness, because she so desperatly wants Odysseus to stay on her island with her. Odysseus as well could be feeling this way, being away from his wife Penelope. This creates something in common between this two characters.
Odysseus' wife, and an important character in "The Odyssey." Penelope embodies the women of the poem and really shows what they are all about. Her sort of power that she holds with her suitors during Odysseus' journey shows how women can really control men with just their sexuality. This could be why so many suitors were interested in Penelope, but it could also be her riches and power over the land (Thomas, 259). Penelope not only stays loyal to her husband throughout this poem, but also her son.
In the poem Penelope states, "[..] and now my son, my dear one, gone seafaring,/ a child, untrained in hardship or in council./ Aye, 'tis for him I weep, more than his father!/ Aye, how I tremble for him, lest some blow/ befall him at man's hands or on the sea!/ Cruel are they and many who plot against him,/ to take his life before he can return" (4.870-876).
Penelope, as a women, obviously is a very caring mother figure who cares a lot about her son and husband. Not only is she caring, but she is strong willed, and smart as well. With the suitors during the poem, she used many clever tactics to buy as much time as she could to keep them away. For example, with her weaving. Saying that she would pick her suitor once she was done weaving. But, she would go back through and unravel it when she got close to finishing it.
Penelope was desired by many men, because of her beauty and "stature" (Thomas, 258). Even though she was constantly being harassed by the suitors, she remained loyal to her husband. The unique thing about Penelope is that she would always think of the perfect scenario to keep her from making a decision on a new husband. This helped her hold off the suitors until Odysseus finally returned back to Ithaka.
"Son of Laertes, versatile Odysseus,/ after these years with me, you still desire/ your old home? Even so, I wish you well./ If you could see it all before you go-/ all the adversity you face at sea-/ you would stay here, and guard this house, and be/ immortal-though you wanted her forever,/ that bride for whom you pine each day./ Can I be less desirable than she is?/ Less interesting? Less beautiful? Can mortals/ compare with goddesses in grace and form" (5.212-222)?
This passage is where Circe is trying to get Odysseus to stay with her instead of traveling back to Ithaka. She is surprised that Odysseus still wants to return home even though he has seen what she has to offer. She also brings up the argument that she can make Odysseus immortal. With all of these things that she has, Calypso thinks that it will be easy to make Odysseus stay. This is not the case. She asks Odysseus if Penelope is more beautiful than she is, and even tells him that mortals cannot compare to the way goddesses look. This passage shows how desperate Calypso is to have Odysseus stay with her and not return home. Odysseus is against staying there and wants to return home to his wife. Calypso tries to almost bribe Odysseus with what she has and compares it to Penelope and what she has. This is where temptation plays a role in the play again. Odysseus though steers clear of it.
"Honorable/ wife of Odysseus Laertiades,/ you need not stain your beauty with these tears,/ nor wear yourself out grieving for your husband,/ Not that I can blame you. Any wife/ grieves for the man she married in her girlhood,/ lay with love, bore children to- though he/ may be no prince like this Odysseus,/ whom they compare even to the gods" (19.311-319).
This passage is between Penelope and Odysseus. While Odysseus is still in disguise, he talks to Penelope about Odysseus and how she feels about him. This particular passage seems very sad along with being very heartfelt between Odysseus and Penelope. Odysseus assures Penelope about how much he loves her and how he is going to return. Odysseus really connects with Penelope and knows how she is feeling. This was hard for Odysseus to keep his disguise while seeing Penelope this upset.
"The lovely voices in ardor appealing over the water/ made me crave to listen, and I tried to say/ 'Untie me!' to the crew, jerking my brows;/ but they bent steady to the oars. Then Perimedes/ got to his feet, he and Eurylokhos,/ and passed more line about, to hold me still" (12. 246-251).
This passage is in Odysseus' point of view, when approaching the Sirens. This passage shows the desperation that Odysseus is feeling in result of listening to the Siren's singing. Odysseus' crew really help him by restraining him even if he wants to be untied. This shows how Odysseus wanted to do something that a lot of people did not live to tell, listen to the Siren song. With the temptation being to strong, he is tied to the mast of the ship, and he is able to listen to the Siren's song without falling into their trap.
Uylsse et les Sirenes, Victor Mottez, 1848
This particular piece shows a strong message about women figures in "The Odyssey." The sexuality shown between the Sirens shows that they were not afraid to act sexually around men. Even with an entire ship of men crossing behind them, their sensuality is still present. In this art, not only would the Siren's song lure in the men, but the way that the Sirens are showing themselves to the men would lure them in as well.
Circe Welcoming Odysseus, Wright Barker
This piece has a powerful meaning. Circe standing high and having all of these lions around her. The lions could be people that she has changed into animals. This piece shows the dominance of Circe, and she looks in control. This work could stand for the dominance side of women in Homeric Greece.
Penelope and the Suitors, John William Waterhouse
This work really captures everything that Penelope has to endure throughout the poem, the suitors. Having them all coming in through the window handing her gifts shows the interest of men in Penelope for the right and wrong ways. This work also shows that Penelope is just simply not interested with what they suitors have to offer because she is counting on Odysseus to possibly return home.
This is a great example of work that shows the conflict within Odysseus. Should he return home to his wife or stay on Calypso's island. Of course Calypso is very near possibly trying to convince him to stay. This shows really how Odysseus is feeling. He wants to return to Ithaka to be with his wife again.
This work of art shows how the sexuality of women in "The Odyssey" can lure men into what they want to happen. With the Lotus Eaters in the artwork nude and being flirtatious with the men, it definitely shows why it was so easy to get them to eat the lotus fruit. This is a perfect example of how some people say that women can rob men of their identity.
This tablet published by the German Archaeological journal, "Kadmos," depicts what it seems to be Odysseus bound to the mast of a ship facing a creature what seems to be a Siren. People also believe that it is inscribed with Mycenaean Linear B Script.
This much larger archaeological finding found on dailymail.co.uk, may help prove that the "The Odyssey" may in fact be true. This could help skeptics see that Odysseus did indeed exist, hence possibly finding his palace in Greece.
This vase depicts the Sirens, but in a different way than most people say that Homer depicts. Instead of being entirely human, the Sirens here are part bird. Homer could possibly make the Sirens all human so he can capture the sexuality within them.
This work is significant because it shows Penelope's reaction when her husband Odysseus returns home. The body language shows that she is very overwhelmed with emotion after not seeing her husband in years.
This image on what is some sort of pottery, shows Odysseus and his men conquring the cyclopes, Polyphemus. This is sort of interesting because the way that the characters are illisrtated. It makes Odysseus look just as big as the cyclops to show his dominance in defeating and escaping from him.
In a world ruled by the Gods, do mortal's choices matter? Do they make a difference? Is there room for human free will?
Has Odysseus' spirit changed throughout this entire journey? What was it that tested his spirit the most?