The Importance of Rationality in Homer’s Odyssey
In the epic poem, Odyssey, Homer provides examples of the consequences of impulsive and irrational thinking, and the rewards of planning and rationality.
Impulsive actions prove to be very harmful to Odysseus. His decisions when he is escaping the cave of the Cyclops lead to almost all his troubles through his journey. As Odysseus flees the cave, he yells back "Cyclops - if any man on the face of the earth should ask you who blinded you, shamed you so - say Odysseus, raider of cities, he gouged out you eye." This enrages the giant, and he prays to Poseidon "grant that Odysseus, raider of cities, Laertes' son who makes his home in Ithaca, never reaches home. Or if he's fated to see his people once again, let him come home late and come a broken man - all shipmates lost, alone in a stranger's ship - and let him find a world of pain at home!" In the end, all these things the Cyclops asks come to pass. Odysseus also makes the mistake of ignoring Circe's command. Circe had said to forgo putting on fighting gear, or the monster Scylla will cause his crew harm. "But now I cleared my mind of Circe's orders - cramping my style, urging me not to arm at all. I donned my heroic armor, seized long spears in both my hands and marched out on the half-deck." Because he ignores those orders given by Circe, the six headed monster Scylla snatches six of the crewmembers and eats them alive.
The impulses of Odysseus' crewmembers also impede his journey. The ship had reached the Aeolian Island, home of Aeolus the master of all winds. He gave Odysseus a bag "binding inside the winds that how from every quarter, with the power to calm them down or rouse them as he pleased...
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...cates stories of his journeys for them. He even fools his son, Telemachus, for a time, all to ensure that his plans are not compromised. Eventually he reveals himself to his son, saying, "No other Odysseus will ever return to you." Odysseus carries out his plans carefully and methodically. He even has the gall to speak to his own wife, never telling her of the truth. He plans the suitors' deaths, first to surprise them when he strings his own bow, much to the surprise of the suitors. Odysseus quickly and brutally kills the suitors with help from Athena and Telemachus. He covers up the slaughter inside his house by dancing and singing, and people who walked by outside thought "A miracle - someone's married the queen at last!"
It is easily seen that throughout Homer’s Odyssey, rationality and crafty thinking prevails over impulse and irrationality.
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