The Greek Song Culture with Reference to Odyssey

The Greek Song Culture with Reference to Odyssey

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The Greek Song Culture with Reference to Odyssey

The Homeric epic, Odyssey, begins with the invocation of the muse. The muses are the goddesses of total recall. Their name is “a reminder” since in earlier times, poets had to recall then recite events since the tales were not written down. The importance of memory and recognition is a central feature in Greek song culture. The film Chunhyang gives an insight to ancient Greek song culture. Although each of these stories is from a different culture, the themes and symbolism are the same and central in both cultures. Both of these tales sêmainô in order to show the connection between lovers.
The importance of recalling events is an integral aspect of Greek song culture. By watching the film Chunhyang, one can gain a deeper understanding of the meaning of metonymy. Metonymy is an expression by means of a connection. In the film, Chunhyang and Mongryong exchange gifts – Chunhyang gives him a jade ring and he gives her a mirror. These gifts are little memories of each other. The connection between two individuals is shown through sêma. The jade ring is one of the clearest symbols in the movie. Jade represents love in Eastern cultures. It is fitting that the ring is made from jade since the exchange of gifts is a symbol of the love they share for each other. In addition, jade was thought to preserve the body after death and could be found in the tombs of emperors. The jade ring given to Mongryong by Chunhyang is a sêma for both definitions of the word; it is a physical symbol of their trust and a physical representation of the tomb of a hero. Mongryong achieves his kleos by becoming a high ranking official and saving Chunhyang’s life. The mirror is another sêma. A mirror shows reflection and this reflection is of the memories that were shared between Chunhyang and Mongryong. A person can reflect on past events and build connections between places, objects, and people. The signs that people give to each other are important for recognition and building relationships
The importance of sêma can be seen in the Odyssey as well:
So you see I know all about this sign [sêma], and I desire to learn whether it is still there, or whether any one has been removing it by cutting down the olive tree at its roots.

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When she heard the sure signs [sêmata] Odysseus now gave her, she fairly broke down…Now, however, that you have convinced me by showing that you know all the signs [sêmata] of our bed…hard of belief though I have been, I can mistrust no longer (23.202-230).
In this scene, Odysseus and Penelope give each other their secret signals to show their true identities. The sêma in this scene is their olive marriage bed and the intricate description of how the bed was made serves to intensify the relationship between Odysseus and Penelope. The bed is a symbol of the marriage and love. When Penelope mentions that she moved the bed, Odysseus recalls making the bed and how it is immobile (23.182-184). It is noteworthy that the marriage bed of Odysseus and Penelope is made from an olive tree (23.186-187). In Greek culture, the olive tree is a symbol of peace and prosperity. If the bed had been removed from the room, this action would have represented the abandonment of their marriage and union. Odysseus and Penelope’s love is essentially “rooted” in their home through their bed. The sêma is a connection between lovers.
Memory and recognition play a significant role in Greek song culture. Sêma is a memory cue. In both of these stories, sêma is used to remember the times that the couples shared. Additionally, the jade ring and the bed are kept a secret from other people, strengthening their bond between each other. Although the use of sêma in the film and the epic is for identification, it is also important for recollection. Lêth means to be mentally disconnected from an event. In Greek song culture, it is valuable to recall events because when the moment [hô¬¬ra] of crisis comes and a person doesn’t have total recall, he will find himself in great trouble. Memory is a miracle that many people take for granted. Recalling past events evokes strong emotions. Emotions are at the heart of what makes us human. These feelings can unite people and increase the connection between them. In song culture, the bonds and relatidsonships between two people are important. In the Odyssey, readers can see the bonds between father and son, husband and wife, self to comrades, and others. There is an ascending scale of affection for each relationship. In both Chunhyang and the Odyssey, the bond between lovers is the strongest bond of all.
Through the use of sêma, the Odyssey and Chunhyang show the strong bond between lovers. In ancient Greek song culture, the bond between two people increases in an ascending scale of affection with the bond between husband and wife as the most powerful. These bonds are built through memories and the experiences that two people share. The strong relationship between Chunhyang and Mongryong, as well as between Penelope and Odysseus, is shown through the use of sêma. Sêmas are used to recall past events and memories – an important feature of song culture. Without recollection of events, key lessons would never have been learnt and bonds would never have been shared.


Works Cited

Homer. Odyssey. (Translation by Samuel Butler)
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