Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Odyssey

Why is Odysseus the successful man, the only one to make it home? Why is he successful and his other comrades don't even manage to make it home?

An important aspect to this question in The Odyssey is the time period it was written; "Of all creatures that breathe and move upon the earth, nothing is bred that is weaker than man. . . So the spirit of the man upon this earth is as the day which the Father of gods and men brings upon him" (228). According to the ancient Greeks, the success of men is granted by the gods and much of their fate was believed to be determined by the gods. With the help of Athena and Odysseus's incomparable strength and wit, he comes to look, ". . .more like a god than a man. . . a noble and brilliant figure; you might think of some perfect work of art. . ." (286). In The Odyssey, Odysseus's heroic stature illustrates why he manages to prevail. But it is also important to notice that Odysseus did not make it home without many hardships. He did not prevail without 20 years of learning and trials.

It is a crucial aspect of the question to see how the success comes. Victory in adversity may involve a few failures before the final result. Odysseus was forced to overcome some of his own personal inhibitions such as his pride and temptations. Once Odysseus grows into the hero he is meant to be he reaches his ultimate goal and triumph, coming home. In order to be successful, a person must simply be ready. His comrades did not undergo the growth and preparation Odysseus did and fell into their own desires and hopelessness.

The Odyssey offers a unique explanation to my question, one with an outlook of ancient background. Although today it is not a common belief that through divine intervention heros and successes are chosen, the idea that through growth and the conquering of our own inhibitions we can reach an ultimate victory offers and important outlook.

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