Comparring Odysseus of Homer's Odyssey and Moses of the Bible
Heroes and their stories have been at the center of almost every culture throughout history. There are vast differences among these legends since they have to serve each particular culture's needs. The events, settings and other characters may change dramatically, but the hero is basically the same for all. And the understanding that the use of violence is always justified in the name of the `Gods'.
The universal hero is initially one of questionable moral standing. This person doesn't decide to be a hero, which is much different then deciding to be a leader; rather he is chosen by a greater force or entity to become one, perhaps a god. He performs the same three tasks: to fulfill a destiny handed down by divine inspiration, undertake a journey where great sacrifices are made on his part to overcome difficult obstacles; like Odysseus traveling home after the Trojan War or Moses leading his people out of Egypt. Finally, the mission is not complete until the message learned throughout is shared for the greater good of the people whom the hero represents. Ultimately, the measure of the hero's success is whether the legend stands the test of time.
ODYSSEUS AND MOSES: IMPERFECT HEROES
While Greek culture differs from Hebrew traditions and their respective mythologies vary greatly, their heroes are one in the same. Odysseus and Moses, as well as Jacob, represent archetypal heroes that could appear in any culture at any point in time. Our universal hero is not a perfect one; he commits a crime, lies, or does something of questionable moral action, or is this merely using his metis. Though married to ...
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...he confronted the Pharaoh and commanded his Jews, he slowly gained confidence in himself and his ability. This transformation was carried through to the end. Moses went from being a meek citizen to an authoritative leader of a whole people, responsible for setting up the structure of their new society. Likewise, Odysseus changed from restless adventurer to dependable statesman. Both went on an epic journey that transformed them from within.
Because of all the parallels between Odysseus and Moses, it is perhaps of little surprise that, in the final analysis, they both learned the same lesson. Even though the messengers were different, be it Athena, Hermes or a burning bush the message is all the same: and that is to listen to and obey the words of ones Gods. This is the message they both brought back for their people to live by.
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