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Isn't it pretty?

Monday, January 26, 2004

The Odyssey

I have been reading The Odyssey by Homer. It is such an incredible story. There is so much depth in it, and the tales that are spun are so interesting. Most of all, the interactions between the characters are really fascinating. The language is a bit difficult to get through at times, but when you get used to it, the story just flows. I was asked why it is that Odysseus wants to leave Calypso and go home. I think living with Calypso is just incredibly antithesis to Odysseus' life. Odysseus is used to being king, being glorified by those around him, being in charge of everything, and being known as a great warrior and strategist. Living on an island with only one person who is holding him against his will has got to go against everything that he is used to. Besides the fact that he is lonely and needs more than just one companion (even if you are with someone you love, you want some outside stimulation sometimes), he has been relegated to a place where he can't make any decisions for himself, and I think that is just so completely against his character that he doesn't know what to do with himself. And who wants to be forced to do something anyway? If he made the decision to be with Calypso it would be one thing, but he is being held captive, and no one likes that. And then of course, there is his wife and child at home, and all his friends, who I am sure he misses. Not having any idea what is happening to the life he left behind 20 years ago must be incredibly hard. Some other things that came up while I was reading: I think the interaction between the gods and the mortals in the Odyssey is so fascinating. I can't figure out what makes the gods godlike and the mortals mortal half the time. The line, "A god is difficult for a mortal man to master" just blew me away. Wow. Do the mortals really think they can master the gods? The love Athene has for Odysseus and Telemachos, the vengeance the Poseidon wants to place on Odysseus, it is just so human and fallible, do the mortals really take the gods seriously or do they just see them as a better-than-average mortal?. And why does Athene have to disguise herself as other people all the time? Are the gods not able to be seen by the mortals outside of a assumed mortal body? The gods are blamed for evil, it says, "yet divine Zeus sometimes gives out good, sometimes evil." Can something that a god does ever be evil? Maybe we see it as evil, but because it comes from a god, doesn't that automatically make it good? I feel like the tone of the Odyssey is very different from the Iliad. The Iliad was always talking about anger and vengeance. The Odyssey keeps making comments about sorrow and sadness. It talks about the loss of loved ones, and a need for friends and family. Instead of everyone raging, they are thoughtful and even show humility and respect. Anyway, just some impressions of mine. I will keep updating as I get farther along - it is a long book!


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