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Odyssey Book 5
The beginning of the Odyssey portrays the chaos in Ithaca and the uncertainty and turmoil of Odysseus family as they have longingly awaited his return. Book 5 finally introduces Odysseus and his captor Calypso. The beginning of the novel illustrates how Odysseus is torn between the charm and will of Calypso and the love and loyalty to the family he has left behind. Calypso is described as beautiful; her island as a virtual Eden and her home a magnificent palace that awes even the gods themselves. Before Hermes delivers the order to release Odysseus he gazes in wonder of Calypso’s abode.
Calypso offers Odysseus immortality, to live the life of a god for all eternity in paradise with her. Along with the offer Calypso questions Odysseus on how his family could ever compare to her and immortality. Odysseus refuses Calypso because he is loyal to his wife and son and feels that there is nothing greater than to see them again. Odysseus gives up Utopia and divinity for the loyalty to his home and family, Even though he has no idea whether anyone he knows is still alive or whether or not his wife and son have waited for him. Both Penelope and Odysseus demonstrate such trust in each other that they wait ten years for each other not knowing what has happened to the other.
The beginning of the book continues to reinforce the idea that Calypso island is a Utopia through vivid illustrations of a place of beauty and perfection to thoroughly demonstrate that Odysseus will overcome any obstacle or give anything to reach home.
Book 5 ends foreshadowing what trouble may lie ahead for Odysseus as Poseidon intends to thwart every attempt that Odysseus makes at trying to get home.
The role of judgment and reason in books 5-8 of the Odyssey
In Books 5-8 of the Odyssey there is a central theme involving importance of the reason and how it pertains to judgment and moral behavior and the essence of someone’s character. The theme is shown in every action of the characters, especially Odysseus.
The first books of the Odyssey begin by introducing the suitors as unruly and animalistic because of their lack of sound judgment. The suitors’ actions demonstrate the result of the absence of reason and rather the attention only to pleasure. The suitors actions lead to the despair of Odysseus family and Ithaca as well as the slow destruction of Odysseus home.
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In Book 5 Odysseus is faced with the decision to do what is morally right and honorable or to do what is more ideal or agreeable for the circumstances. Odysseus faces the uncertainty of returning to a home and waiting family that may or may not exist. Odysseus is not aware of what the Greeks have come to think of the Trojan War. Odysseus is uncertain whether he will be treated as a hero returning from a long journey home or treated indifferently as a veteran of a war long ago. While envisioning what will happen upon his return home Odysseus must consider Calypso’s offer to live for all eternity with her on the utopian island Of Ogygia. The choice Odysseus makes to try to return home demonstrates the extraordinary loyalty to his home family and people of Ithaca. Odysseus decision in Book 5 introduces the value he has for doing what is right over what is better.
Book 6 demonstrates that reasoning should be used even when it could be deemed unnecessary under certain circumstances. Odysseus decides to speak to the girl and not attempt to beg, or grovel for help even though he is starving he acts in a moral manner which help reinforce the need for reasoning so that someone may be respectable and honorable in their actions.
Book 8 introduces the need to analyze a situation or problem and to reason the best way to react to it. By testing the reaction of the Phaeacians to the story of the Trojan War Odysseus judges how he will be treated if he reveals his identity. If the Odysseus had revealed his identity before he knew how the Phaceancs felt about the war, they could have had strong feelings against the war, and would project them onto Odysseus. By learning that he is respected as a hero Odysseus does not have to conceal his identity, unless he wants to remain anonymous.
The Books that follow Book 8 demonstrate the result of bad judgment and lack of reasoning. Without considering the consequences of his actions Odysseus’ is cursed after he accidentally gives Polythemus his name.
When some of the crew drinks the nectar of the Lotus flower they lose their ability to reason and their want to get home. Later, Odysseus crew’s hunger impairs their reasoning and they eat Helios sheep. They are punished harshly and only Odysseus survives. Slowly Odysseus crew and even Odysseus himself suffer after they make small lapses in judgment that ultimately lead to their downfall.