Mariam Bazzi 1Mrs.
MillardHonors LA91 December, 2017 The Odyssey: Is it still a good read? “The more things change, the more they stay the same” (Proverb). This quote explains that although times change and things change, people still tend to go back to old habits and things that they did in the past. There are many reasons that people still read The Odyssey today although it is thousands of years old. The Odyssey, an epic poem written by Homer, keeps readers on the edge of their seats as the main character Odysseus, and his men undergo a ten year long journey and try to return home after the Trojan War in order for Odysseus to reassert his place as king of Ithaca, their homeland. In addition to its literary merit, The Odyssey is also engaging to modern readers due to the relatable temptation that the characters face and the heroic traits of Odysseus. One of the main reasons that people still enjoy reading The Odyssey is because it is considered a literary merit. One of the main elements in The Odyssey is imagery: “But when she swallowed the sea water down we saw the funnel of maelstrom, heard the rock bellowing all around, and dark sound raged on the bottom far below,” (Homer 396).
Readers enjoy imagery because it helps paint a clear picture of what is happening in the scene. This quote distinctively portrays the scene where Odysseus is on his way home and he meets Scylla and she took six of his men away and she ate them in order to let them pass through and further his journey. When Homer describes the scene his words help the reader paint a clear picture of exactly what is taking place, which has kept readers hungry for more. Another literary element that people enjoy in stories is symbolism.
A symbol is a word, sound, or image that is used to represent a bigger idea, object, or relationship. In this case, the bed is a symbol of Bazzi 2Odysseus and Penelope’s marriage. It shows that their marriage is secure and immovable just like the bed even after twenty years of being apart. “An old trunk of olive grew like a pillar on the building plot, and I laid out our bedroom round that tree… Then I lopped off the silvery leaves and branches, hewed and shaped that stump from the roots up into a bedpost,” said Odysseus as he described how he built the bed (Homer 414). The fact that Odysseus built the bed around an immovable tree is symbolic of their marriage.
When a reader sees how secure the bed is it reminds them of how secure Odysseus and Penelope’s marriage because although Odysseus was gone for a long time when he came back it was still there just like the bed. Those are just two of the many literary elements that people enjoy in modern day literature that are conveyed in the epic. In addition to its literary merit, the epic is also engages readers through Odysseus’ heroic traits which readers admire. One of the main traits that a hero embeds is loyalty.
In The Odyssey, Odysseus was gone at war for twenty years and his wife Penelope stayed loyal to him the whole time, “Now Penelope sank down, holding the weapon on her knees, and drew her husband’s greatbow out, and sobbed and bit her lip, and let the salt tears flow,” (Homer 403). Penelope promised Odysseus before he left that if he did not return after twenty years she would remarry, and now that day has come. Penelope was getting ready to meet the suitors and she had the bow that Odysseus left behind in her hands and she broke down because she didn’t want to remarry, she loved Odysseus and she did not want to break her loyalty to him. When Penelope cries, it points out to the reader just how much Penelope cares for her husband and shows the reader how her loyalty never faded. Another trait that most heroes embed is cunningness. Odysseus displays a lot of cunningness throughout the epic especially when he was with the Cyclops. When the Cyclops asks for Odysseus’ name Bazzi 3he tricks him by saying “my name is Nohbdy,” and the reason that Odysseus tells him this is so that when Odysseus attacks him he would not be allowed to call for help since “nohbdy” is attacking him and the other Cyclops would just assume that it was a joke, “mother, father, and friends everyone calls me Nohbdy,” (Homer 105).
The word “nohbdy” reminds the reader how Odysseus is brilliant and he is fast on his feet because of how little time it took for him to think of a way to trick The Cyclops. Those are two of the many traits that people admire in heroes.Although people enjoy reading the Odyssey because of Odysseus’ heroic traits, they also enjoy reading the Odyssey because most people can relate to the temptations that the characters face.
One temptation that the characters in The Odyssey face is drugs. “Those who ate this honeyed plant, The Lotus never cared to report or return,” when Odysseus and his men came upon the Lotus Eaters, they introduced them to this flower, The Lotus that was like a drug that made them forget everything and made them no longer want to return home, “they longed to stay forever, browsing on that native bloom,” (Homer 373). When readers read about The Lotus, it reminds them of many drugs that are in our lives today because it caused his men to forget everything and had Odysseus not stepped in and rescued his men they could have gotten addicted to it and never wanted to leave the island to return home.
Another temptation that people can relate to in their lives today is adultery. When Odysseus was away at war, he cheated on his wife Penelope as some people do today. Odysseus says, “I have long been detained by Calypso, loveliest among goddesses, who held me in her smooth caves, to be her heart’s delight, as Circe of Aeaea, the enchantress, desired me, and detained me in her hall,” (Homer 372). Odysseus has spent ten years so far in the Mediterranean Sea and he has been held captive by Calypso for seven of them. That was when he cheated on his wife as some people cheat on their spouses today.
When Odysseus Bazzi 4implied that he cheated on his wife, it reminded the readers of how although Odysseus gave into temptations thousands of years ago, people still do it today. In conclusion, in addition to the relatable temptation that the characters face, The Odyssey is also engaging to modern readers due to the heroic traits of Odysseus and its literary merit. Although many things have changed throughout the past thousands of years as far as literature, technology, and much more people still enjoy reading one of Western Literature’s oldest works. If it was not for The Odyssey and other types of literature from a long time ago, would we know what it was like back then and how relatable those times were to modern day? Works CitedHomer. The Odyssey. Translated by Robert Fitzgerald.
Collections, compiled by Kylene Beers et al., vol. 9, Orlando, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015, pp.