Essay about The Education of Odysseus in Books 9-12

Essay about The Education of Odysseus in Books 9-12

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    Books 9-12 are a tale of a journey in which the protagonist does not remain the same throughout. He changes due to the places he has been, people he has met and things he has done. These four books are almost entirely spoken by Odysseus and thus we are able to receive a first hand report.

 

            At the start his wanderings, Odysseus leaves Troy with his Ithacan fleet and in a short time they come to Ismarus, the city of the Cicones. Odysseus states simply that he "sacked this place" and there they took "vast plunder". Here we see the hero of the Iliad doing what a hero does. At the end of this book, Odysseus declares his identity to Polyphemus, in which he describes himself as a "sacker of cities". This is because he is only a short time into his travels and only recently he has sacked Troy and Ismarus. However, when Odysseus tells the Phaeacians who he is, he attributes his 'kleos' (everlasting fame on the lips of men) to his "stratagems". In Book 8, Odysseus asked the bard Demodocus to sing of "the stratagem of the Wooden Horse", which he considers to be his most memorable and greatest feat - not the sacking of the city but the inventiveness of his idea. This is because, in Scherie and at the near end of his journey, Odysseus has just come through his adventures and he now considers his 'metis' (cunning) to be his greatest quality, and he also has not fought anyone for a long time.

 

            It is also at Ismarus that we see Odysseus' first conflict with his men, as he is unable to convince his men to leave ("my fools"). Thus we also see the first superficial contradiction by Homer of Odysseus as a Greek hero. When we define a Greek hero we would expect certain qualities to apparent. A hero would...


... middle of paper ...


...e man he was when he started the voyage and he realises it himself, claiming his "stratagems" to be his best claim to fame. He has now finally made the jump away from bié (even though when he arrives in Ithaca, he must fight a battle and return to his old ways once more). He has become the man who recounts his story to the Phaeacians. Whilst recounting it, we can see what Odysseus considers to be the most important things in the story he accomplished. He skips through the story of the Cicones and the sacking of their city extremely quickly whilst the stratagems inside Polyphemus' cave are given special attention. We would not expect such a preference in a warlord but we would in what Odysseus has become.

 

Work Cited:

Homer (Translated by Robert Fagles. Preface by Bernard Knox). 2006. The Odyssey. New York: Viking Penguin, div. of Penguin Books, Ltd.

 

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