The Greek’s conception of the universe was anchored in the ever presence of the sea and they imagined the farthest limits of the earth to be a wide expanse of water. While enabling them to be a sea-faring people, the ocean also forced them to face the constant threat of becoming shipwrecked and dying at sea. In face of the threat posed by the sea, the Greeks sought to demonstrate that the forces of nature must be endured by man, and more importantly, that these forces must also be overcome by his efforts, his action, and his intelligence.
In Homer's Odyssey, it is upon the medium of the sea that Odysseus faces his most dehumanizing struggles. At the onset of the epic, it is set forth that it is upon the ocean that Odysseus' struggle takes place. "On the ocean he [Odysseus] suffered many pains within his heart,/ Striving for his life." (1.4-5) His fight against the sea is literally a struggle against Poseidon. Odysseus must undergo such strife for many years at sea, for "all the gods pitied him,/ Except Poseidon, who contended unremittingly/ With godlike Odysseus, till the man reached his own land." (1.19-20). Poseidon pursues him with relentless malice for he remains "enraged about the Cyclops whom [Odysseus] blinded in the eye,/ Godlike Polyphemos, who possesses the greatest strength/ Of all Cyclopes. The nymph Thoosa gave him birth,/ The daughter of Phorcys, ruler over the barren sea,/ In hollow caves, after she had lain with Poseidon." (1.67-73)
Poseidon ensures that his element becomes a constant threat and obstacle to Odysseus because Odysseus not only blinded Polyphemos but also because he had the audacity to boast about it. Poseidon's curse is a desire...
... middle of paper ...
...the obstacles of the sea can be overcome for in reality, the sea is forever encroaching upon the sands of civilization.
Works Cited and Consulted
Bloom, Harold , Homer's Odyssey: Edited and with an Introduction, NY, Chelsea House 1988
Heubeck, Alfred, J.B. Hainsworth, et al. A commentary on Homer's Odyssey. 3 Vols. Oxford PA4167 .H4813 1988
Jones, Peter V. Homer's Odyssey : a companion to the translation of Richmond Lattimore. Carbondale, IL : Southern Illinois University Press, c1988. PA4167 .J66 1988
Peradotto, John , Odysseus’ Struggle in the Odyssey, Princeton UP 1997
Stanford, William Bedell. Homer's Odyssey. 2 Vols. Macmillan
Thalmann, William G., The Odyssey : an epic of return. New York : Twayne Publishers. PA4167 .T45 1992
Tracy, Stephen V., The story of the Odyssey. Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press, c1990. PA4167 .T7 1990
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