Homer's Epic, The Odyssey

Homer's Epic, The Odyssey

Length: 1542 words (4.4 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Excellent

Open Document

Essay Preview

More ↓
Homer is All Mixed Up

Homer’s epic, the Odyssey, is a heroic narrative that follows the adventures of Odysseus, the powerful King of Ithaca. The main story involves Odysseus’s return journey to his homeland after the Trojan War. However, Homer skips around in the action periodically to give the reader a better understanding and interest in what is going on in the epic. Homer takes his audience from the present action involving Telemakhos’ search for news of his father’s return, to the past where Odysseus tells the Phaiakians of his tragic journey home after the war. The events in Homer’s epic are not in order but still prove more effective at guiding the reader through the narrative. Although the events in the Odyssey are not in chronological order, the story line is enriched by Homer’s use of the in media res method because it introduces characters that were not involved in Odysseus’ adventure, because it shows the urgency of Odysseus’ return to his kingdom, and because it allows the reader to become more interested in the opening chapters without having to wait for a climax in the action.

In media res is Latin for “in the middle of the race” which is a style used by Homer in the Odyssey when he begins the story in the middle of the action. In this way Homer is able to introduce major characters that would otherwise not be included in the narrative until the end of the epic. Three major characters introduced by this method are Telemakhos,

Odysseus’ son; Penelope, Odysseus’ wife; and the suitors, prominent young men of Ithaca who attempt to marry Penelope. Telemakhos is the first of these characters to be introduced. In lines 1-14 of book II he is introduced as a prominent young man as he enters the assembly “spear in hand, with two quick hounds at heel; Athena lavished on him a sunlit grace that held the eye of the multitude. Old men made way for him as he took his father’s chair.” Despite Telemakhos’ prominent figure in the opening lines of this book, it soon becomes obvious that he is not an extremely powerful figure. Telemakhos intends to expel the suitors from his home but he is not strong enough to fight them. It is important that the reader meets Telemakhos in the beginning because he is the main character in the Ithaca plot and also he must overcome obstacles at home foreshadowing the obstacles his father faces later in the epic.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"Homer's Epic, The Odyssey." 123HelpMe.com. 18 Jan 2020

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

The Odyssey, An Epic Narrative By Homer Essay

- The Odyssey, an epic narrative by Homer, Illustrates the countless hardships and lessons one must undergo and learn throughout the journey of life. This journey was shown by following the story of a Greek man named Odysseus. The goal of life, according to Homer, was to reach self-actualization and become infallible in each of the seven virtues (hospitality, obedience, loyalty, courage, respect, empathy, and humility). Odysseus, once the king of Ithaca, was a great and brilliant man who was in fact superior over many people in regards to life’s virtues....   [tags: Odyssey, Trojan War, Homer, Odysseus]

Research Papers
1115 words (3.2 pages)

Essay on Epic Hero in Homer's The Odyssey

- Epic Hero in Homer's The Odyssey With its larger-than-life plot twists, The Odyssey is a classic representation of an epic in literature. With that understood, it is no surprise that the main character of the story helps to define an epic hero. A character must express certain virtues to be considered such. Strength, courage, and nobility are almost prerequisites. Cleverness is an added bonus. Odysseus possesses many characteristics and virtues that make him a true representation of an epic hero....   [tags: Homer Odyssey Hero]

Research Papers
958 words (2.7 pages)

Essay The Epic Of The Odyssey By Homer

- Similar to an elaborate dish, a literary genre consists of multiple necessary “ingredients,” called epic conventions, which classify a text into a particular category. Homer follows an impeccable recipe in his magnificent work. Labeled as an epic, The Odyssey by Homer portrays the Greek hero Odysseus years after his victory in the Trojan War and his awaited journey back to Ithaca. As the plot develops it is evident it is no effortless feat for our hero to return home. The godly Odysseus encounters adversities in the forms of Cyclops, sea monsters, alluring flowers and formidable Greek gods with varying conceptions of him....   [tags: Odyssey, Odysseus, Trojan War, Greek mythology]

Research Papers
1487 words (4.2 pages)

Essay on The Epic Of The Odyssey By Homer And Translated By Robert Fitzgerald

- The Odyssey, by Homer and translated by Robert Fitzgerald, is an epic poem written about 3000 years ago. It is essentially a sequel to the Iliad, as it tells of the story of a Greek man named Odysseus and his ten year journey back home to Ithaca, after the Trojan War. It also follows the story of his estate and his wife Penelope which are both being fought over by the suitors that have occupied his palace and are consuming his goods. Along with his son, Telemachus, who is set out on a journey to uncover the whereabouts of his father by the Greek goddess Athena....   [tags: Odyssey, Trojan War, Odysseus, Homer]

Research Papers
1479 words (4.2 pages)

The Odyssey, by Homer, is an Epic Essay

- An epic is a long, episodic narrative poem that recounts the adventures of a historical or mystical hero. Episodic narratives have a larger story broken down into closely connected, but individual and separate sections. Some important qualities that distinguish an epic are unrealistic antagonists, the Gods and Goddesses playing important roles, and a story involving the re-establishment of a proper leader. “The Odyssey”, by Homer, is an epic because Odysseus (the hero) faces supernatural antagonists, the gods and goddesses play an important role, and Odysseus is being restored as a rightful leader....   [tags: Epic Narrative]

Research Papers
900 words (2.6 pages)

Essay on Xenia and Hospitality in Homer’s epic The Odyssey

- “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling” (1 Peter 4:8-9). Hospitality can lead down a path of happiness and joy when ensued. In Homer’s epic The Odyssey, Xenia is an important factor in the foremost important character’s journey home. The role of xenia in the odyssey when followed can be very beneficial and when not followed, deadly. When abiding by xenia, Telemakhos and Odysseus make great steps towards regaining the power from the suitors in Ithaka....   [tags: Xenia, Hospitality, Homer, Odyssey, ]

Research Papers
792 words (2.3 pages)

Essay on Homer's Epic Poem, The Odyssey

- ... This contrasts with Achilles' lack of sophrosune because Achilles is very rash in the decisions he makes in Troy as shown, in Book 1 when "down on the ground he dashed the scepter" (1.287) after his quarrel with Agamemnon. By doing this, he gives up all the power he once had, making him an outcast. Furthermore, additional proof of Odysseus' ability to think through situations is demonstrated in Book 6 when Nausicaa and her maids wake Odysseus up and he, naked, steps out of the bushes and contemplates about whether he should "fling his arms around her knees, plead for help, or stand back, plead with a winning word" (6.156)....   [tags: intellectual hero, martial hero, intelligence]

Research Papers
1058 words (3 pages)

herody Odysseus as Epic Hero of Homer's Odyssey Essay

- Odysseus as Epic Hero of Homer's Odyssey        Homer's epic poem The Odyssey is about Odysseus' ten-year journey home from the Trojan War and what Odysseus has to do when he returns.  The journey itself is quite a story.  Odysseus and his men come in contact with many obstacles that they must overcome and there are more hurdles to jump when Odysseus reaches his destination.  Odysseus is an epic hero who, besides showing superhuman characteristics in strength, bravery and cleverness, also proves himself through his emotions, leadership, and the corrections in his faults....   [tags: Odyssey essays]

Research Papers
952 words (2.7 pages)

Homer's Epic, The Odyssey Essay

- Homer is All Mixed Up Homer’s epic, the Odyssey, is a heroic narrative that follows the adventures of Odysseus, the powerful King of Ithaca. The main story involves Odysseus’s return journey to his homeland after the Trojan War. However, Homer skips around in the action periodically to give the reader a better understanding and interest in what is going on in the epic. Homer takes his audience from the present action involving Telemakhos’ search for news of his father’s return, to the past where Odysseus tells the Phaiakians of his tragic journey home after the war....   [tags: essays papers]

Free Essays
1542 words (4.4 pages)

Homer's The Odyssey Essay

- Homer's "The Odyssey" The Odyssey is a companion to The Iliad, a story of the Trojan War. Both The Iliad and The Odyssey are epic poems written by Homer. In The Odyssey, Homer relates the misadventures of Odysseus, king of Ithaca, that occur during the decade following the defeat of Troy. In doing so, the fates of his fellow warriors are also made known. The Odyssey begins on Mount Olympus, in the palace of Zeus, king of the gods, where a discussion takes place regarding the woes of humans and their determination to blame it on the gods....   [tags: Homer Odyssey Epic Poem Essays]

Research Papers
1642 words (4.7 pages)

In lines 219-234 of book II he decides to go in search of news of his father. If he finds Odysseus is dead then he will give Penelope to another husband. Penelope is also introduced in book II. She is a wise woman who, out of love for Odysseus, procrastinates marrying another man. One instance of her defiance to the suitors occurs in lines 104-106 when she says “Young men, my suitors, now my lord is dead, let me finish my weaving before I marry, or else my thread will have spun in vain.” She intends to trick the suitors and weave very slowly so she does not have to marry. Finally the suitors are introduced in book II as well. The suitors are the young men who occupy Odysseus’ home, eat his food, consume his wealth, and attempt to woo Penelope. Homer does an outstanding job by introducing these characters at the beginning of the epic. This opens the reader’s eyes to a smaller subplot that is occurring in Ithaca as Odysseus makes his way home. Homer introduces these characters and their concerns first so that the reader is not caught off guard later in the narrative when Odysseus finally does reach his homeland. These specific characters all play vital roles in the climax of the story and they are introduced early so that the reader can relate with their issues better later in the narrative.

Homer also leaves the proper order of time in the Odyssey to show Odysseus’ urgency to return home to his beloved wife and kingdom. Odysseus faces many hardships on his journey home and could have easily given up. However, Odysseus overcomes the adversities because he is a true hero and must return home to restore his kingdom under his rule. In book V the story changes its focus on Telemakhos to a focus on the adventures of Odysseus. After being held captive by Calypso and treated like a god for several years Odysseus is still determined to return home. When she asks him why it is so important for him to return to his wife and kingdom and risk more hardships by returning he answers in lines 224-233 in book V: ‘My lady goddess, here is no cause for anger. My quiet Penelope- how well I know- would seem a shade before your majesty, death and old age being unknown to you, while she must die. Yet, it is true, each day I long for home, long for the sight of home.

If any god has marked me out again for shipwreck, my tough heart can undergo it. What hardship have I not long since endured at sea, in battle! Let the trial come.”
In this statement Odysseus has explained that he has endured many years without his wife and homeland. He misses Ithaca so much that he welcomes any obstacles he must overcome to return home.

As part of the in media res method an author must fill in the missing details of a story by inserting flashbacks and taking the story temporally out of chronological order. Homer uses Odysseus’s flashback to tell the story of his adventure home to the

Phaiakians. When Odysseus arrives at the island of the Phaiakians he begs them to bring him home to Ithaca. Odysseus then explains his journey that brought him to their island and all of the hardships he has overcome. He flashbacks his story starting with The Trojan War then goes into the rest of his hardships including Ismarus, the Land of the Lotus-eaters, Land of Cyclops, The bag of winds from Aeolia, the Land of the
Laestrygonians, the witch Circe, the Siren’s enchanting song, Scylla and Charybdis, the Sun god’s Island, Calypso’s Island and finally the Island of the Phaiakians. The fact that Odysseus is still determined to get home after all of these impediments is incredible. Odysseus’ extreme will power shows the urgency behind his return.

Homer’s most important reason for using the en media res method and taking the epic out of chronological order is that it draws the reader into the story right away instead of having the reader wait for a climax in the action. By using this method the reader feels more involved in Odysseus’ journey because the reader knows he must return home to solve the problems of his kingdom. The audience already knows that Odysseus’ ultimate goal is to return home and expel the suitors from his house even before Odysseus knows his fate. In a way the reader goes through the narrative to make sure that this happens. The clear example of the reader understanding Odysseus’ destiny comes in book II in lines 49-85 during Telemakhos’ speech during the assembly that begins the action in the epic. Telemakhos explains that it is not courteous for the suitors to plunder his home and riches and that the suitors have no indignation or shame about the foul acts that they commit. Later on in the assembly Telemakhos begs that Zeus come so that the suitors “shall get what you deserve: a slaughter here, and nothing paid for it!” (Lines 153- 154). After that statement Zeus sends a sign to the Greeks:
Now Zeus who views the wide world sent a sign to him, launching a pair of eagles from a mountain crest in gliding flight down the soft blowing wind, wing-tip to wing-tip quivering taut, companions, till high above the assembly of many voices they wheeled, their dense wings beating, and in havoc dropped on the heads of the crowd- a deathly omen- wielding their talons, tearing cheeks and throats; then veered away on the right hand through the city. Astonished, gaping after the birds, the men felt their hearts flood, foreboding things to come.(Lines 155-165, book II.)

This sign acknowledges Telemakhos’ bid for divine intervention and serves as an omen to all that Odysseus will return and kill the suitors. The reader has now become drawn into the story and they are now aware of Odysseus’ ultimate task.

The Odyssey is a timeless work because of the creative style Homer used to pique the audience’s interest. The narrative style allows the reader to relate with Odysseus more than anyone else because most of the Odyssey is told like a story. Homer’s use of in media res really holds the reader’s attention throughout the narrative. It is perhaps still so greatly appreciated today because a hero figure is so greatly desired in all cultures. Odysseus’ ability to overcome so many obstacles to reach his goal is what really captivates readers. Many readers could only imagine what it would take to accomplish Odysseus’ feats but most readers would be able to apply his virtue of never giving up to their own lives.
Return to 123HelpMe.com