Sunday, April 27, 2014
Courage: one of the most prevalent Greek values present in The Odyssey, exhibited mainly by Odysseus. Throughout the epic poem, Odysseus demonstrates courage in a great deal of ways; he demonstrates courage in almost everything he does. For one, Odysseus shows courage and bravery when he goes up to the Phaeacian princess and asks her for help and assistance. Odysseus is on an island that is completely foreign to him and he has no idea who the woman is or if she could be a threat, yet he still gathers up the courage to ask her for help. Odysseus also exhibits courage when he places beeswax in his shipmates’ ears and leaves himself to be tied to the mast of the ship without anything to prevent him from hearing the tempting and taunting voices of the sirens. Odysseus begs his shipmates to untie him and set him free, but they fortunately do not. Odysseus as well as his shipmates both show courage here because Odysseus knows the Sirens would be tempting, yet he manages to not let them get to him, and his shipmates show courage as well when they disobey Odysseus’s commands to set him free. Courage is demonstrated once again by Odysseus when he and his men encounter the land of the one-eyed giants known as the Cyclopes. Eventually, Odysseus’s men manage to get themselves stuck in a cave that happens to be the home of the Cyclopes that is Poseidon’s son; however, Odysseus manages to use his courageousness to create a plan to stab the Cyclopes in the eye with a hot rod, resulting in Odysseus and his men’s escape. If it weren’t for his courageousness, the giant would probably have eaten him and his men. Odysseus exhibits the trait of courage so well; consequently, it adds to why Odysseus is such a great epic hero, being so brave, bold, and dauntless.
In The Odyssey, Odysseus’s son, Telemachus, matures and undergoes a significant transformation that is very noticeable throughout the beginning chapters of the epic poem. In the beginning, Telemachus is forced to go on a journey in search of his long lost father, Odysseus. Odysseus has been gone for almost 20 years, and Telemachus is 100% convinced that Odysseus is dead, that is, until Athena comes to him, disguised as Mentes, advising Telemachus that his father is, indeed, still alive. Along with the news of Odysseus’s existence, she also tells Telemachus that he must travel in order to find news of his father at Pylos as well as Sparta. Before Athena’s visit to him, Telemachus was a very unconfident, distant, and hopeless person; he often kept to himself and was not very sure of anything. For example, when Athena told him the news of his father being alive, Telemachus says, “My mother says I am his son; I know not surely…. unknown death and silence are the fate of him…” showing just how much Telemachus believes his father is dead as well as how unsure he is on whether Odysseus really is who everyone tells him he is (page 8). Despite Telemachus’s hesitation, Athena continues to give him a plan to go on a journey to find his father/news of his father, and he falteringly accepts. After Athena and Telemachus’s conversation, Telemachus’s transformation into an assertive, brave, and confident person begins. He even gathers enough courage to be assertive enough to tell the suitors that are staying at his house to “go feasting elsewhere”(page 12). Before his chat with Athena, Telemachus would never have had the courage to confront the suitors. Also, during an assembly, Telemachus explains that, “If he [Odysseus] is alive… I might hold out for another weary year; but if they tell me that he’s dead and gone, then I can come back to my own dear country and raise a mound for him…”, showing how confident he is that his father is, in fact, alive somewhere in the world. The journey to find his father not only helped Telemachus to find his father, but it also helped him to mature and better himself.
Throughout the entirety of The Odyssey, Athena often intervenes in the mortal world a great amount of times; however, it becomes apparent that she tends to be much kinder towards Odysseus and Telemachus rather than any other person in relation to the “divine intervention” category. While I was reading, I found myself wondering what it was that causes Athena to treat Odysseus and his son better than, for example, the suitors. I realize that the suitors’ rude behavior and misdemeanors, such as stealing, are not exactly what would be considered the right thing to do, and I also realize that Athena would want the punish them for their actions, but because I practice the faith of Christianity, it’s hard for me to understand why a God would be willing to help a mortal plot the murder(s) of another mortal. At one point in the book, Athena “wished Odysseus mortified still more” of the suitors, and she tempts Eurymachus to insult Odysseus further (page 347). This confused me even more, knowing that Athena planned on getting rid of the suitors later on, yet she still continues to egg on Eurymachus to do more bad things. Athena seems to be a little biased toward Odysseus and Telemachus, and I’m wondering if that is because of Odysseus’s large amount of power in the mortal world. In comparison to my religion, it’s difficult to understand why a God wouldn’t treat every person equally, no matter his or her social level or class. I also find it very unfair to their society that one of their Gods would treat one person different from another person just because of how much power he or she had, especially if those people truly worshipped that particular God. Nevertheless, I still favor Athena for her help towards Odysseus and Telemachus because I personally like the both of them for their courage and bravery, and I want everything to work out for them.