When met heroically, suffering has three main qualities: it expiates past misdeeds, it is transitory, and it leads directly to future rewards. Although I will demonstrate a few of the abundant external similarities between the two heroes, I do not intend to focus my essay on these.
Essay on The Trials of Odysseus Depicted in Homer's Odyssey
Intriguing as these correlations are, they do not say much of substance about the theme of suffering. Rather, they provide the justification my comparison. After enumerating them, I will draw heavily on three slightly less obvious points of comparison. These three points, which deal with the purpose, limit, and effects of suffering, lead directly to my conclusions about its nature. The resemblance between the years of hardship each hero must endure is a particularly crucial point.
In life, Herakles was burdened with Twelve Labours. Moreover, just as Herakles received aid from both Hermes and Athene cf.
Odyssey, Almost immediately, he delineates two plots that eventually will merge. One is the story of Odysseus who is held captive on Ogygia by Calypso.
The other is centered in Ithaca where Odysseus' wife, Penelope, struggles to ward off a number of suitors and hopes for reliable word from or about her husband. Homer also introduces several themes that will recur throughout the epic. These include hospitality, reputation, revenge, and power. Throughout, people are responsible for their choices but always susceptible to intervention by the gods. In the world of Odysseus, one's most treasured possession is his good reputation. One's reputation is determined by how others view him, assessing his character, values, and behavior according to the prevailing social standards and mores.
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Zeus himself affirms Odysseus' character 1. Apparently all the gods, except for vengeful Poseidon, hold Odysseus in high regard. Athena, whose curse initially caused Odysseus' wanderings, now wants to forgive and bring him home.
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When Athena in disguise visits Ithaca, she first receives a hospitable welcome from Telemachus 1. The social concept of hospitality is essential to both major plots in The Odyssey. In fact, this concept was also the reason for the Trojan War in The Iliad.
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Paris breaches the hospitality of King Menalaus when he runs off with — or steals — Menelaus' wife, Helen, and takes her back to Troy with him. In The Odyssey , the reader first sees hospitality exploited by Penelope's suitors. They have turned Odysseus' home into their own private party hall and spend most of their time feasting and drinking at the host's expense.
Even though Penelope remained true to her marriage, Odysseus had been sleeping with several women while he was away, which resulted in his pain and suffering.
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