The Odyssey’s protagonist, Odysseus, King of Ithica, husband of Penelope and father of Telemachus was reknown for his craftiness. When Helen is abducted and Menelaus calls upon his allies to honour their oaths and help him to retrieve her. Odysseus tries to avoid going to war by feigning lunacy and starts sowing his fields with salt, as an oracle had prophesied a long-delayed return home for him if he went. However, Palamedes, sent by Menelaus’s brother Agamemnon places his infant son Telemachus in front of his plow. Odysseus, rather than eviscerate his son with rudementary farm equipment, Odysseus reveals his deception and joins the Greeks in their conquest of Troy.
The version of Odysseus in the Illiad is much more flawed and realistic than his role as an archetypal hero in the Odyssey. In the Illiad, Odysseus’s brains are juxtaposed against the mighty brawn of Greek champions like Ajax and Achilles, but Odysseus hubris and selfishness are much more apparent in the Illiad. The story of Odysseus and the Odyssey, the hero and his quest respectively, displays many of the motif’s outlined by Vladmir Propp.
Propp’s first motif, that of extrodinary circumstances surrounding the heroes childhood, is not immediately apparent, but can be applied to a prophetic scene in Book 19 of Homer’s Odyssey. He is named by his maternal grandfather, the legendary thief Autolycus the son of the messenger god Hermes and Chion. Odysseus ' name is derived from the Greek verb odussomai (to cause pain or to bear a grudge against.) Furthermore, Odysseus’s paternal grandfather Arceius has divine parentage that varies from source to source, the son of Cephalus or Zeus and grandson of Aeolus.
Propps’s 2nd, 3rd, 5th and 6th motifs are very apparent i...
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...not driven by a hunger for power or lust, but from Odysseus’s desire to get his old life back and to return to the family that he was torn away from. Kalypso offers Odysseus power and immortality which he rejects, instead choosing to leave Ogygia to reclaim his throne and family.
Propp’s 10th motif knowledge through suffering, while present in both Homer’s work and the BBC series, is laid out quite clearly by his great grandfather Aeolus the god of wind in the BBC series. Aelous describes Odysseus as “the first mortal to think, you (Odysseus) know there is always something to be learned from a challenge.” Odysseus’s quick thinking and guile saves his life many times, but his hubris ultimately instigates many of his struggles. However, Odysseus’s ego is not due to an inflated self worth, but from his ability to think on his feet and mentally outmanuever his opponents.
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