The Odyssey is an epic poem about a journey. After the Trojan War is won Odysseus leaves Troy for his home in Ithaca. However, the gods decide to test his courage and resolve and send him on a twenty-year odyssey. Odysseus' courage is constantly tested as he struggles with the many obstacles the gods place before him. Although Homer depicted The Odyssey as a self-reliant journey, in reality the gods and other mortals guide Odysseus. It is his loyalty to and his love for his family that keeps him going. The Odyssey depicts Odysseus as he overcomes each obstacle through guidance, fate, and loyalty to his family.
To Odysseus loyalty is the most important quality. He expects his family and friends to be loyal. He especially expects loyalty from his wife Penelope. Odysseus talks to Penelope disguised as an old man, "and as the snow melts on the lofty mountains, when Eurus melts what Zephryrus has scattered, and at its melting flowing rivers fill; so did her fair cheeks melt with flowing tears, as she bewailed the husband who was seated by her side" (187). Odysseus doesn't reveal himself even though he pities his sobbing wife because he knows she wouldn't be able to conceal her love for him in front of all her suitors. This touch of dramatic irony helps the reader sympathize with the struggles of Odysseus' wife.
Odysseus demonstrates his loyal to Penelope during his stay with the Phaeacians. Even with Nausicaa by Odysseus' side because she likes him, he still stays loyal to Penelope. As the Phaeacian woman watch Odysseus as he starts to bathe he says, "Women, stand here aside, while by myself I wash the salt from off my back...
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... in the sunlight he is. Odysseus is guided by the Phaeacians as he sleeps and due to his sleep misses important elements. Since Odysseus is asleep a sense of dramatic irony is shown because the reader knows something that the Odysseus doesn't.
Homer's epic poem The Odyssey tells the tales of Odysseus, a man who has an epic journey through life. He overcomes the struggles and conflicts of life through three main elements: loyalty to and from his family, fate, and guidance. Loyalty to his family and from his family helps him long to make it home. The gods determine his fate and by overcoming the struggles and conflicts of life he is able to fulfill his fate. Lastly guidance by the immortals and mortals helped Odysseus eventually make it home to Ithaca. Odysseus' tale is one that covers only a portion of his life, but seems like a lifetime.
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