The Odyssey Landscapes

1317 Words6 Pages
The Odyssey Landscapes, discovered on the Esquiline Hill in Rome in the nineteenth century, are Roman paintings set within a Second-style scheme (Ling 1991, 110). Ling argues that many scholars believe that the artist of the paintings may borrow heavily from prototypes of the original masterpiece (1991, 110). Positioned 5.5 meters from the bottom of the wall, the masterpiece depicts Homer’s epic, The Odyssey, when Odysseus arrives at the land of the Laestrgonians and when he enters the land of the Underworld (Ling 1991, 110). Although the Odyssey Landscapes are meant to illustrate Homer’s epic, the artist took certain liberties on interpreting the scenes, as certain parts of the masterpiece depart from Homer’s epic.

First, some parts of the painting do not contextualize Homer’s epic at the scene when Odysseus arrives at the land of the Laestrgonians. On the top left corner of the paintings, viewers can see three flying figures that have similar colors which allow them to blend into the sky. As Ling notes, these figures “represent the Aeolian winds, the gift of King Aeolus, which had been carelessly released by Odysseus’s men and had blown away from their native lands to a new phase of tribulations” (Ling 1991, 110). Homer’s epic describes the scene when Odysseus’s men release Aeolian winds:

A fatal plan, but it won my shipmates over/They loosed the sack and all the winds bust out and a sudden squall struck and swept us back to sea,/ wailing, in tears, far from our own native land./ (Homer, Ody. 10.51-54).

Viewers can observe that the artist took some liberty to misplace the flying figures at the scene of Odysseus’s arrival the land of the Laestrgonians. The artist uses three flying figures to symbolize the Aeolian winds that b...

... middle of paper ...

...Although the artist took some liberty to add certain parts and relocate certain elements in the paintings, viewers can still recognize the Odyssey Landscapes as visual to Homer’s epic, as the remaining of the paintings match the storyline. Through comparison and contrast, the viewers can find that certain details of the paintings deviate from the text. Furthermore, scholars believe that the Esquiline paintings were prototypes of an original masterpiece. The evidence helps viewers to see that the artist perhaps borrowed heavily from other prototypes as the Odyssey Landscapes were popular during that period. This evidence could explain why certain elements of the paintings differ from Homer’s epic.

Work Cited

Homer. 1996, The Odyssey, translated by Fagles, R. The Penguin Book: New York.

Ling, R. 1991, Roman Painting, Cambridge University Press, New York.
Open Document