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The Odyssey is a Greek poem of just over 12,000 lines. It was written by Homer. It was originally meant to be performed or recited or sung by a bard usually accompanied by music. Currently it is written in various versions. It is about the journey of Odysseus after the Trojan War. It covers a time period of ten years. There are also some digressions and interludes to take the reader or listener out of story, but they are thematically linked to the main story. Styles in the poem range from the conversational, comic and the dense use of language. There is also wide use of similes. It is also a romance cum
The story is about war. As much as war will still remain to be part of our contemporary society, then the story is of great significance to the current world. It is basically concerned with individual human strife within the context of Trojan War. There is the reconciliation of the two men. It also covers the consequences and effects of War plus those left behind at home. Just as it currently believed, soldiers once they left for war, they were considered dead. In other words, when you go to war you expect never to come back. In the magical journey, Odyssey gives the difficulties to be faced by soldiers returning back home. The alcohol that the soldiers were advised to take in order to forget about the War could be compared to the clinical approach nowadays called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). There are also some current literary works that explore this aspect of War. In Jacob’s ladder, the victim of war thinks his old world of wars has passed not only to be faced by a society that he does not fit into or belongs to.
There is also the issue of families left home and the consequences. Family members of a soldier often face a lot of hardships while he is away. Odyssey’s wife is courted by another man while away and these happen in the current society. Sons take time to develop without their fathers. Telemachus goes to the extent of discovering his father through his left hand just through the reminiscences of others. There is also the acceptance of refugees into the community. This is seen in the obligation to host the travellor.
Traditional heroes of the ancient times mostly cared about achievement, honor, physical ability, ceremony and glory. This therefore forced the leaders to care much about what others thought of them. So if they failed in their responsibility then a lot of shame would befall him. Pride would lead to the downfall of a hero as opposed to the current world where pride from personal achievements is the order of the day. The head of the community was considered as a king, but what transpired was the issue of lordship. He was an overseer of the world, but not a ruler as we depict in the modern world. This means that should two kings meet, then they would discuss the issues of maintaining a disease free vineyard. This is opposed to the current situation where leaders meet to discuss whether to sign a treaty on non aggression.
The current world is separated into five basic human social development categories. These are the wilderness, the village, the town, the city and the oppressive city. A close look at Odysseus social world puts him somewhere between the village and the town. Odyssey shows the attributes of a modern man when Odysseus has to learn the values of doing right, faithfulness, working together and reliability. These are the cultures of a town setting even in the current world.
The gods of the Greek were not just mere metaphors, but they were indeed very real. Every class of people believed in their God. This is relevant to the current world situation where there are several religious groups like the Christians, Muslims, and Buddhists among others. The gods were integral part of the society. They believed in the gods and feared them a lot due to their super natural powers. The human motivation, aggression, sexual appetite and the insight could be put down to the inspiration of the gods.
The gods worked through dreams, prophecies, oracles and omens. Current religions also still have these aspects at different capacities. They could come down from Mount Olympus to take the human form. Christians claim also in the current world that Jesus came down in the form of man. The gods were so many and due to this conflict often arose due to power differences. This conflict is rampant in the current world between the various religions. The gods do not dominate the narrative. They do not control the lives of the humans, but prefer to leave them to find their own destinies. This is compared to the way most religions have also left their followers to choose what they have to do with their lives. They only give guidelines on what should be done.
The underlying theme of the Odyssey is of a man’s pilgrimage in a race and quest of the true enlightenment. Odyssey at a certain instance is no longer satisfied, with the everyday ambitions and pleasures and begins to know and suspect that a noble and a higher life is open to him; he becomes disposed to face temptations and trials which are essential for him to prepare himself for the final triumph: blending of the sanitized character with its inner mysticism, the father in heaven being understood as within. With the current situations in our world today, success comes after a period of trials and temptations as it happens to odyssey in his quest of a new life.
The goal of achievement has been denoted in assorted ways; the Holy Grail vision, or the winning of treasure such as the golden apples or the Golden Fleece of the Hesperides. Arjuna fights for his just inheritance in a lawful war. The Israelites biblical account of wandering and breaking out of bondage for forty years in the Sinai desert on their way to the promised land is a clear fable, as is the prodigal son’s parable. The narration of the ultimate triumph and tribulations of Job who well understands his ‘liveth redeemer’ is unmistakable.
In majority’s views, Odysseus depicts in a symbolic way the man’s awakened mind seeking after long years of fighting with sophisticated things characterized by the Trojans to recuperate knowledge of himself. His wife, Penelope representing the advanced nature or spiritual perception, remains in the environment of the whole poem as a pervading influence. Whilst, Odysseus being the dynamic mentality, fights against pushing onward and the obstacles in a rapid movement, Penelope sits before her loom lacing and interlacing her patterns and Odysseus is not only separated from his wife but also its an exile from his country and hearth; not only that he has to keep in action constantly, but he has to look for himself the right pathway which leads homeward.
Odyssey, after parting the battleground of Troy, he embarks for his national islet, “Ithaca the Fair” and expecting to arrive promptly but at the very onset, a storm drives off the fleet and a great battle obstructs his progress. The damage of all his ships but one, and majority of the sailors, follows swiftly. One of the strangest incidents is with Polyphemus encounter, the cyclopean giant with a single eye in the middle of his forehead. In our present world, the giant is depicted as a creature of the early man’s distorted imagination and it is a symbolic meaning of creatures that are mentioned by most archaic people who were far removed from the other.
The gaiety and lightness with which Odysseus has associated his venture is substituted by a deep earnestness and the scenes of Hades are depicted with deep vibrancy and many touches of realism. These revelations are the actual portrayal of the modern life and Odysseus moves on leaving the more impure regions; sees Mino’s, the judge of the Dead, and gets a passing view of the heavenly world, where the immortal and higher parts of man are held to subsist amid incarnations on earth.
Conflicts in Odysseus story is fundamentally, a linear sequence of obstacles which Odysseus must surmount. He does so through employing his wide range of attributes and by adapting his identity and he does fit the situation he faces in particular. In the prospect of conquering the sequence of obstacles, he becomes transformed and learns in particular ways, in order that the restoration of the home is achieved, we again have a lost normality. The story is essentially over once the lovers are reunited; traditional values discovered and relationships are well established. Therefore, the odyssey celebrates this structure and vision and its indecisive persuasion on western art and literature derives, in bigger portion, from the fact we find very pleasant this vision. In our world of living, we may not believe in the same goddesses and gods but like Odysseus, majority of us figure in a story that rejoices the restitution of the home and the community at the utmost worth in civilization, in the traditional humorist vision and this is something very treasured to our imaginations. And consequently, the comic vision and structure have continued and enjoyed a vital life in our cultures.
After the Trojan War, Odyssey in Phaeacia begins to put back himself again but does it in a curious way. Memories of the Trojan War fill him with sorrow for a life that is now over, this is evident in our today’s world where we have experienced wars and which after results have affected many people. The effects of war are notable in the lives of the people affected and this lives back memories of grief and sorrow. But after periods of sorrow, odysseys comes back to his senses and recuperate and later acknowledges that it is behind now and the need to focus ahead. He declares himself and reconstructs his social identity revealing himself to his son, to the swineherd, to the nurse and the goat keeper and also to his wife and again begins to reacquire his fame and riches he once enjoyed.
The Odyssey presents a number of issues that the current world experiences and war has been depicted as one of the major issue that really affects majority of people in many parts of the world. The difficulties people face is of two sorts; the direct obstacles and the threats and these threats must be confronted and overcome often not openly but rather by using their ability to pretend and improvise, their humor, ingenuity and most importantly, the emotional response which represents the true feelings to manipulate the situation. Odysseus has the incurable ability for getting himself in to intricate situations, commonly because he bears such an avid desire for self-assertion and for spreading throughout the world reputation and knowledge for himself. These situations call for a wide range of attributes; deceit, imaginative planning, forethought, courage and the ability to influence language to his advantage.
The second group of difficulties faced is the temptation to lose hope, in the modern world, atrocities happen and many people feel too much oppressed to continue and fear nudges in that makes them lose hope. In the Odysseus, the frequent desire to surrender and stop to the seductive attraction of the lotus Eaters, the offers of Circle and to survive the temptations, Odysseus discovers and hangs on his desire to return home.
In conclusion therefore, The Odyssey has influenced our modern thoughts, civilization and literature. Themes and characters from the Odyssey reflect people’s conduct and ideas in our modern days. Evident from how people are treated mercilessly during periods of war, how people are affected by the results of war, how people learn and how the songs of today are composed, films and movies. This ancient Greek manuscript will remain to dominate great authority for generation and generations to come.