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The Odyssey as Epic Poem
For thousands of years, people have enjoyed the entertainment of epic poems. The "Odyssey" is an epic poem. The "Odyssey" contains characteristics of an epic poem. The setting of the ""Odyssey" is immense. The gods and goddesses of ancient Greece intervene frequently in the "Odyssey". Odysseus exemplifies a special kind of pride. Throughout the "Odyssey", Odysseus undertakes a difficult journey. .
The "Odyssey" has an big setting. Odysseus starts off by traveling to Troy, which is the known world. On his quest home he comes face to face with the unknown world. Included in the unknown world is the underworld. Very few mortals had ever made it to the underworld and back safely. Odysseus travels to many different islands, and civilizations throughout the duration of the "Odyssey". Thus, creating many smaller, different settings that all fit into vast setting.
The gods and goddesses constantly intervene in the "Odyssey". There are many examples of divine intervention in the "Odyssey". One of the most influential gods in the "Odyssey" is Poseidon. Poseidon causes Odysseus's journey to be so difficult. Poseidon is mad at Odysseus because of what he did to his son Polyphemus. Polyphemus asked his father to avenge him. This resulted in only Odysseus reaching Ithaca.
Circe was a minor goddess who had a great influence in the "Odyssey". She helped Odysseus by giving some advice on certain matters. She told Odysseus that she must go to "the cold homes of Death and Persephone..." meaning the underworld. She also tells them of the danger which lies ahead in Scylla and Charybdis.
Odysseus's pride led him to make blind, rash decisions. Hubris, a Greek word, is the best way to describe Odysseus's pride. Hubris is a unique type of pride that is almost arrogance. Odysseus demonstrates this when he is leaving the island of the Cyclopes. `Cyclopes, if ever mortal man inquire how you were put to shame and blinded, tell him Odysseus, raider of cities, took your eye: Laertes' son, whose home's on Ithaca!' If Odysseus would have kept his mouth shut he may have escaped Poseidon, and all of men wouldn't have been killed.
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Odysseus's journey is anything but easy. The journey he undertook was very difficult. Odysseus was constantly fighting an enemy. It took him TEN years to return to Ithaca! It definitely should not have taken that long. Three out of the ten years were spent mostly on great adventures. The other seven were spent on the island of Calypso. Soon after leaving troy Odysseus and his men encountered the Cicones. The Cicones were allies of the Trojans. Thus, making them enemies of Odysseus. Here Odysseus loses seventy-two of his men to the Ciconian army. Odysseus and his men, after being blown to the middle of nowhere by Aeolus's bag, encounter the land of the Laestrygones. The Laestrygones were fierce cannibals and only Odysseus's ship and crew of forty-five survived. They then sail to the Island of Circe where he is told that he must go into the underworld and talk to Tiresius. As previously mentioned, few men had ever survived the underworld. This was very difficult for Odysseus. Polyphemus's curse finally comes true when Odysseus and his remaining men land on the island of Helios. When his men slaughter Helios's cattle Zeus punishes them. Zeus sends a lightning bolt that kills all of the men except Odysseus. The Invocation sums up his perils well. "He saw the town lands and weathered many bitter nights and days in his deep heart at sea, while he fought only to save his life, to bring his shipmates home, But not by will nor valor could he save them..."
All of the above characteristics discern the "Odyssey" as an epic poem. It has a huge setting. The "Odyssey" has frequent intervention from the divine figures. Odysseus illustrates a unique type of pride that is found in many heroes. It takes Odysseus ten arduous years to return to Ithaca. The "Odyssey" is an epic Poem.