A Life Changing Encounter in The Odyssey by Homer

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Over the course of the Odyssey, Odysseus is on a mission to find glory, until he encounters Achilles. Odysseus’s mission begins to switch from seeking glory to a focus on returning to his homeland of Ithaca. The key reason for this change of heart is based on an encounter with Achilles. During this encounter, Achilles explains that he may have everlasting glory in the mortal world, but “the man [he] was” means nothing in the underworld (11.570). Through Achilles’s experiences, Odysseus sees that reuniting with his son is the most important thing he can do with his life. Odysseus realizes how overjoyed Achilles becomes after hearing stories about his son. Odysseus’s priorities shift during his encounter with Achilles due to his realization that glory will mean nothing to him as compared to having a long lasting legacy through his son.
Odysseus demonstrates that he is a prisoner to his need for glory when he pushes himself to vanquish the Cyclops. Over the course of three years, Odysseus gains the epithet “raider of cities” (9.587), yet these were mortal cities. Now, lying before him is an island unlike any other that he has encountered; an island full of half-gods. These giants are much stronger than he in physical strength, but Odysseus is renowned for using his wits to defeat the enemy. (i.e. the Trojan Horse). Odysseus is driven by his need for glory steps onto the island. It is clear that Odysseus is not simply stopping at the island for food or water, because his crew’s rations were “still plenty full” (9.182). Also, Odysseus “picke[s] out [his] dozen finest fighters” (9.218), further proving that he stops at the island for the sole purpose of proving that he can destroy the Cyclops. This shows that Odysseus is not there to co...

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...nd his goal of gaining glory will be complete. Therefore, there will be no need for Odysseus to gain any more glory. After his life changing encounter in the underworld, Odysseus’s actions prove that he will do whatever it takes to return to his homeland, and reunite with his family.
After his meeting with Achilles, Odysseus has a change of heart. His mission in life changes because he sees that glory will bring him nothing in the underworld, yet having memories of his loved ones will being him happiness. This dramatic change in perspective happened when Odysseus encounters Achilles in the underworld. Odysseus observes that Achilles “lop[es] with long strides—…as I had told him of his son” (11.116). Odysseus concludes that in order for him to be happy in the next life, he must reunite with his son so that he can know that a part of him will live on after he dies.
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