The Essential Odyssey The Essential Odyssey discussion


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The Odyssey- is Odysseus a jerk?

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Armand The guy vanishes for twenty years and then shows up and kills all the men who've been courting his wife. I mean, the suitors are a rude bunch, but should that carry the death sentence?

No only that but he owns a bunch of slave and constantly brags about owning them.


message 2: by Minerva (new)

Minerva He is definetely a jerk or let's say Homer was a jerk for such a plot. No need to stress Penelope's waiting for 20 years weaving. The story lacks her point of view, at this point I think Margaret Atwood's 'The Penelopiad' could complete the rest of the story. Definetely in my to read list!


Armand good point Minerva !


message 4: by Michael (new)

Michael Economy I think he's not a jerk. :D He doesn't have any other women on her for 20 years right?


message 5: by Minerva (new)

Minerva How about Calypso and Circe? 7 years with Calypso plus a year with Circe, he might be a jerk I guess.


******☠Ŗąνĕŋ☠****** He's a jerk. But it wasn't avoidable.


message 7: by Michael (new)

Michael Economy http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calypso_...

"Calypso kept Odysseus hostage at Ogygia for seven years...During this time they sleep together, although Odysseus does not find much joy in it soon."


I take it back, he's a jerk. :)


message 8: by Alex (new)

Alex As far as I remember, all the truly magical shit - monsters, sorceresses, everything aside from the gods and goddesses Greeks took for granted - Scylla, Circe and the rest were entirely Odysseus's story about why he took so long to get home to his wife. I do think he could be history's first, greatest unreliable narrator.


message 9: by Andrea (new)

Andrea By our culture's standards, yes he is a jerk. However, by the standards of the Greek culture he was a hero.


message 10: by Michael (new)

Michael Economy You can be a jerk and a hero i think.


message 11: by Jenna (new)

Jenna You can't read this kind of classic and get the real themes and points of it unless you read it with an understanding of ancient Greek culture and the world Homer lived in. I applaud Andrea's statement.
You have to understand, 1) that Odysseus was remarkably faithful to Penelope in consideration that in ancient Greece it was acceptable and expected for husbands to have other relationships and 2) Odysseus never did unless it came to an immortal, in which case it was either give in to her will or loose your life.
The Greeks of Homer's time believed in no real right or wrong. A person did as they desired, and if it caused sorrow (which it often does in the case of the Gods in their numerous quarrels) then they believed in expressing that sorrow, (hence this manly hero Odysseus' many tears throughout the book) or in getting their revenge to the fullest, as Odysseus quite graphically does at the tale's conclusion.


message 12: by Sarah (new)

Sarah I know that the affairs and whatnot were acceptable in greek culture then, but I still don't like Odysseus.

I also don't like him because when he told the Cyclops his name (even though he didn't have to, and announced his name primarily just to brag), it led to the curse that got his entire crew killed. I consider that his fault.


message 13: by Old-Barbarossa (new)

Old-Barbarossa If you think he's a "jerk" then it's probably best you avoid all old epics...different times/different customs and all that. You can't hang modern western morals on ancient cultures that don't have the same Judeo/Christian reference points anymore than you can understand painting by purely looking at colour and not the whole composition.
Also, word to the wise...if you think he's a jerk best stay away from the old Icelandic and Irish stuff.


message 14: by Old-Barbarossa (last edited Apr 03, 2011 07:02AM) (new)

Old-Barbarossa Oh, and also stay away from the Bible and loads of other "holy" books...amazing what folk will do when they think their god (any god, I'm not singling one out here) says it's OK...again, setting is important...probably OK to offer your daughter up for gang rape in the Eastern Med during the bronze age...now though...probably not so much.
So context is the thing. One person's jerk is another's cultural hero.


message 15: by Andrea (new)

Andrea Indigo wrote: "I know that the affairs and whatnot were acceptable in greek culture then, but I still don't like Odysseus.

I also don't like him because when he told the Cyclops his name (even though he didn't h..."


This is part of what makes the Odyssey an epic poem. The hero of an epic poem needs to be almost superhuman, almost god-like in strength, wits, beauty, etc, but they need to have human faults as well. Odysseus' fault is that he is is prideful and exhibits a lot of hubris. That's the point of the story. One of the lessons he learns is that he is not better than the gods (one of the greatest sins in Greek culture) and that he must rely on them to help him in his life.


message 16: by Alma (new)

Alma Katsu Interesting discussion. If you want to read a very interesting take on it, try Zachary Mason's "The Lost Stories of Odysseus." Retelling of Odysseus' stories in different ways/styles. Mason was a NYPL Young Lions award winner or some such.


message 17: by Ken (last edited Apr 04, 2011 08:10PM) (new)

Ken I read an essay many years ago that argued that we western readers are too steeped in the western hero tradition (in which protagonists are perfect, or nearly so, or undergo some form of redemption) to appreciate more realistic heroes. I'm not saying that Odysseus was 'realistic' or even meant to be realistic, but I think we should approach works like this with the understanding that we bring that baggage with us as readers--that we have grown up with literary role models meant to demonstrate some form of moral superiority. Other literary traditions (such as ancient epic poetry) have different goals than what we have come to expect. I approach the Odyssey as a ripping great story, passed down by oral tradition as a form of entertainment. embellished by generations of story tellers to fit each teller's style and taste, or perhaps to level an oblique criticism at a contemporary rival, and finally put into written form by Homer.
To the ancient Greeks, the Iliad and Odyssey were essential parts of a young person's (man's) education. But I doubt that Odysseus was presented as the perfect role model. I think it is more likely that both his virtues and foibles were used as examples.


message 18: by Nedy (new)

Nedy in greek culture ,odysseus actions and traits are not just normal but an example for other greeks. he might not seem like a good role model to western readers but that is how he was intended to be. So i wouldnt really call him a "jerk"


message 19: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Nedy wrote: "in greek culture ,odysseus actions and traits are not just normal but an example for other greeks. he might not seem like a good role model to western readers but that is how he was intended to be...."

I wouldn't really call him a "jerk" either. However, I certainly don't like him.


message 20: by A. (new)

A. S. Alright I'll say it. Odysseus was a real jerk, and you only have to take a look at his treatment of the Cyclops (Polyphemus or something?). He and his men trespass on the Cyclops' property and when caught have the nerve to become offended when the Cyclops didn't extend an invitation to stay in the cave and feast. They then proceed to stake his eye out.

Did the Cyclops overreact? Sure. He did block the entrance to the cave. But every culture has a method of both providing and receiving hospitality. Without the guest providing a formal introduction, it's trespassing. Polyphemus gets all of the flack for flouting conventions when Odysseus and his men do it too. Not cool, ancient Greeks, not cool.


message 21: by Nedy (new)

Nedy hey A.
no disrespect here im just saying,
but u mite wanna actually look more into greek culture
and their hospitality

u said , "Without the guest providing a formal introduction, it's trespassing. Polyphemus gets all of the flack for flouting conventions when Odysseus and his men do it too. Not cool, ancient Greeks, not cool."

well i happen to be half greek ,
and if u know anything about greek culture,
the guest doesnt have to provide ANY formal introduction to get hospitality,
the acient greeks considered it tradition to let anyone enter their home and to serve them
so it really was the cyclops fault and not really considered trespassing

once again , just saying :)


message 22: by Eric (last edited Apr 20, 2011 08:58AM) (new)

Eric Jay Sonnenschein The ODYSSEY is equal parts holy book, travelogue, adventure story, geography and biology text. Likewise, Odysseus is a character with many facets--equal parts mythic hero, patriarch, superman, trickster, divine agent, and ordinary man. He cannot be evaluated as an ordinary character to be judged according to our contemporary morality. He represents the values, tastes, and ideals of his author and audience.

Odysseus is a lusty man of action who must live by his wits, a James Bond of the Aegean. Through his large actions and appetites, we acknowledge our own desires. However, Odysseus is also a role model. He is also a deeply moral character, who willingly goes to hell and back in order to fulfill his sacred manly responsibilities.

Home and family are key to a sense of identity and purpose in the ODYSSEY. The entire reason for Odysseus's perilous journey home is that he misses his home, his wife, his son and his island. He feels compelled by his emotions and his duty to reunite with them. He weeps to convince Calypso to release him. If Odysseus were a lazy hedonistic playboy, "a jerk", he might have stayed with Calypso and led a carefree life. But he knew his responsibilities; they were ingrained in him, and he was willing to risk and finally face death in order to meet them.

Some may accuse Odysseus of being an ill-mannered guest for blinding Polyphemous, the cyclops. However, since he finds himself on death row in the cyclops cave, having witnessed the grisly killing his men, he can be given a pass for this indiscretion. What choice does he have? It is also important to remember that Polyphemous does not practice the Greek virtue of "dike," hospitality, when he kills Odysseus's men. As a consequence of this lack of human civility and sociability, he is not deemed worthy of human consideration.

In Odysseus's world, feuds are settled through violent conflict. When a code is violated, there is no mediation. Odysseus slaughters the suitors and leaves a courtyard and houseful of carnage. It is not the sort of homecoming we would expect for a returning hero. Yet, can we blame the King of Ithaca for his brutality? The suitors have violated his home, compelled his wife to seek refuge in her apartment to avoid their unwanted advances, and plundered his son's inheritance.

THE ODYSSEY is like the Bible. It is not merely telling us about some guy named Odysseus (whose name, by the way, means "He who is hated"). It expresses the aspirations, fears, and most cherished beliefs of a people. It was written to teach valuable lessons and to instill in its audience a sense of timeless order and awe for the power of nature and the gods.

The novelistic elements of THE ODYSSEY are lagniappe (extra). The epic starts with Telemachus as he languishes at home. He realizes that he has no choice but to set out in search of his father. As Telemachus learns more about Odysseus from his old cronies, their testimony establishes the legend of their old friend and legendary hero. Their stories make the father more real to the son. Their anecdotes also serve the plot. They comprise a long drum roll that builds suspense until we meet Odysseus, the man, in Chapter 9.

In the Telemachaea we feel the pain of the abandoned son, who has lost his father and been deprived of a protector and role model. But we see Telemachus grow as he travels and when he and Odysseus finally meet we feel that they will be unstoppable in their effort to restore order in their family and their land.


message 24: by Rosalia (new)

Rosalia Marenco Message 23,you must have taken a long time writing that.


message 25: by Eric (new)

Eric Jay Sonnenschein Not too long. Maybe a half hour. But when I write something I want it to be good. I can't represent myself even in a discussion with any remark that isn't well thought out and well expressed.

Sorry if it bothers you.


message 26: by Rosalia (new)

Rosalia Marenco oh, it doesn't bother,so no sweat.


message 27: by Eric (new)

Eric Jay Sonnenschein cool.


message 28: by Old-Barbarossa (new)

Old-Barbarossa Old-Barbarossa wrote: "http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00vtwnz
Simon Armitage, the poet, looks at the tale."


Armitage starts with the opinion that he's not sure if he actually likes the man but at one point he talks to a couple of old greek merchant seamen about Odysseus. They make the rather obvious point that many seamen are not angels when away from home...and he'd just spent 10 years on a beach outside Troy, then ages floating around the Med. Apart from his encounters with a couple of hot witchy ladies (one of which - Calypso - he is most certainly used by, rather than seduced) he is a model of restraint on the infedelity front by comparison to the old salts Armitage is talking to.
So even when looking at the tale from a modern perspective not everyone will find his actions offensive or jerk like. One of the old salts interviewed said with a twinkle in his eye, "You are young when you do these things, eventually you settle down."
Many of our modern "celebrities" have worse track records and they tend not to be war heroes. I can cut the old chap some slack on the jerk front.


message 29: by Old-Barbarossa (new)

Old-Barbarossa Armand wrote: "No only that but he owns a bunch of slave and constantly brags about owning them..."

Don't think this is reason to find him a jerk considering anyone of wealth in the ancient world owned them. Like being upset that someone owns a car nowadays...or a washing machine. The comment writes off an entire era, not just a culture.


message 30: by Eric (last edited Apr 30, 2011 09:19AM) (new)

Eric Jay Sonnenschein Maybe it's our right and duty to objectively appraise previous civilizations in terms not only of their considerable achievements, but their ethical abominations. It makes one view the Acropolis and pyramids differently when one considers how much slave labor was exploited to build them, to say nothing of the Roman aquaducts and numerous ruins throughout the Mediterranean world.

The same English teachers (the usual guides in the exploration of literature)who tell students that "classics" like The Odyssey are indispensable treasures because they portray universal and timeless human values, conveniently omit the evils that are evident in these works--like slavery, sexism, unmitigated revenge, justice without trial and jury, etc.

Are we supposed to suspend our morality when we read works of art? How is this possible? Each generation and each reader must decide the value of a work based on his or her judgement. If certain readers in this discussion consider Odysseus a jerk, they are probably right--but he is a typical jerk from the world for which he was a hero.

Come to think of it, Odysseus is not the only sexist, violent, manipulative hero in popular literature. Join the club, James Bond! Come right in, Tony Soprano! You, too, Don Corleone! You're all jerks, in my book!

Yet for some reason a vast number of people admire these "jerks." What do they have that readers and audiences find irresistible? Power?

Freud discussed art as a means of "wish fulfillment"--an alternative of day-dreaming. The audience transfers the qualities and adventures of the hero onto themselves. The hero, then, is an ideal person, someone who does not get thwarted by other people, by natural disasters, or even by old age and disease.

Is this transcendence of reality what we as an audience truly want from our literature? A fantasy in which we possess imaginary power and obtain imaginary victory? If such is the case, why do we belabor the moral foibles of our heroes? They are not meant to be bound by rules, which are just conceptual prison bars.


message 31: by Old-Barbarossa (last edited Apr 30, 2011 09:22AM) (new)

Old-Barbarossa Eric wrote: "If certain readers in this discussion consider Odysseus a jerk, they are probably right--but he is a typical jerk from the world for which he was a hero..."

Fair point, but many of the jerk enabling features of his character are fairly widespread in his culture. It is his non-jerk characteristics that make him a hero...the jerk stuff just makes him human.
I think people respond more to flawed heroes than the perfect ones. Gawain rather than Galahad as one example.


message 32: by Old-Barbarossa (new)

Old-Barbarossa Alex wrote: "...why he took so long to get home to his wife. I do think he could be history's first, greatest unreliable narrator..."

This and Tam O'Shanter are literatures great replies to the age old question: "And what time do you call this to come home? You've work in the morning you know?"


message 33: by Natalie (new)

Natalie You guys are all weird... You're hating on one of the most known heros of 'history'


message 34: by Dominique (new)

Dominique Dixon The fact that he's one of the most known heroes is mostly due to the endless amount of discussion generated about just this sort of thing. I mean, let's face it. If he was super one dimensional, then there would be no need for the question of his loyalty or integrity or whatnot. The very reason everyone knows who Odysseus is is because he's versatile, complicated and worth arguing over. I mean, the only thing you can say about Twilight's "heroes" (yeah, I'm going there) is that Bella is a typical whiny teen and Edward is a sparkly vampire. Woo. How can you get excited about that?


message 35: by Natalie (new)

Natalie You're really bringing twilight into this one? Are these two books even comparable?


message 36: by Minerva (new)

Minerva Ok though I have agreed that he was a jerk, I definetely cannot deny his multi-dimensional structure as a character. I don't think I can dare to judge Homer's neat work in that sense. And I think hating Odyssey is quite impossible since it was one of the earliest works of fantasy genre, and as a fantasy admirer surely I appreciate Odyssey as well.
So yes, he was multi-dimensional, he was more than a flat character and that is why there are many discussions made over him and almost none about Penelope.


message 37: by Natalie (new)

Natalie penelope was never really in the story. THe only feelings she ever shared with us is that she loves odysseus


message 38: by Pollopicu (new)

Pollopicu Yeah, I've always thought that upon his return back from the Trojan war Odysseus was rather mean to the lady who practicly raised him as her own. However, I loved the Odyssey!


message 39: by Alford (new) - added it

Alford Wayman If you were A Trojan, or if Euripides was writing about you Odysseus would be a jerk. But from the Greek side this Job of a warrior, persecuted by the gods for dumb mistakes by his men and human err and weakness of judgment and charter sure makes him look like one. I believe Homer might say we are all Jerks at some point in our lives. But the best thing to do is to keep trying to get home and keep running towards our fate. Ouch my head...


message 40: by Pollopicu (new)

Pollopicu Right on, Alford.


message 41: by Christos (last edited May 11, 2011 03:30AM) (new)

Christos Tsotsos I must be an idiot writing on this discussion...

Odysseus the Polymechanus is the man who claimed that men do not need gods. They can achieve all they want simply by using their minds. For that he was punished. In order for him to return to Ithaca he had to give up and announce to Poseidon that he is nothing without gods.

There is a great poem by Constantine Kavafis titled Ithaca, which gives a nice interpetation of what Ithaca is and what the Odyssey is for each one of us during our life travel.

Is Odysseus a jerk? This is a funny, pointless and erroneous question, you should be asking, who is Odysseus and why he suffers to find his way home? You totaly missed the woods looking for a tree that is in your garnden. If you are somehow affected because some judeo-christian/victorian/feminist ideology does not comply with something writen thousand years ago you are going paranoid.

I include the poem by Kavafis here just in case:

When you set out on your journey to Ithaca,
pray that the road is long,
full of adventure, full of knowledge.
The Lestrygonians and the Cyclops,
the angry Poseidon -- do not fear them:
You will never find such as these on your path,
if your thoughts remain lofty, if a fine
emotion touches your spirit and your body.
The Lestrygonians and the Cyclops,
the fierce Poseidon you will never encounter,
if you do not carry them within your soul,
if your soul does not set them up before you.

Pray that the road is long.
That the summer mornings are many, when,
with such pleasure, with such joy
you will enter ports seen for the first time;
stop at Phoenician markets,
and purchase fine merchandise,
mother-of-pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
and sensual perfumes of all kinds,
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
visit many Egyptian cities,
to learn and learn from scholars.

Always keep Ithaca in your mind.
To arrive there is your ultimate goal.
But do not hurry the voyage at all.
It is better to let it last for many years;
and to anchor at the island when you are old,
rich with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting that Ithaca will offer you riches.

Ithaca has given you the beautiful voyage.
Without her you would have never set out on the road.
She has nothing more to give you.

And if you find her poor, Ithaca has not deceived you.
Wise as you have become, with so much experience,
you must already have understood what Ithacas mean.


message 42: by Christos (new)

Christos Tsotsos A. wrote: "Alright I'll say it. Odysseus was a real jerk, and you only have to take a look at his treatment of the Cyclops (Polyphemus or something?). He and his men trespass on the Cyclops' property and wh..."

I have no idea how you got that? In ancient greek tradition it is not viewed lightly to be inhospitable, even if the ones who ask for your hospitality tresspased and then asked to be forgived offering something in exchange for your forgiveness. To eat the ones that ask for a sanctuary is also viewed dimly. As for Odysseus bragging about his name to the cyclops, I have no comment, maybe he did it because the greeks loved to be remembered by the future generations. Why you think he might have done it?


message 43: by Alford (new) - added it

Alford Wayman Christos wrote: "A. wrote: "Alright I'll say it. Odysseus was a real jerk, and you only have to take a look at his treatment of the Cyclops (Polyphemus or something?). He and his men trespass on the Cyclops' prop..."

You bet! We are all a bunch of smucks! Thanks for stopping by and please stick around and help us all more as we struggle to understand! It's always good to have a few Odyssey fundamentalists around to set us straight! I think each person interprets it according to his own world view and experiences. That's the way the metaphor works. You present an excellent hypothesis and commentary however! Well Done! How ever don't be troubled if someone else has one also. :0)


Armand Christos wrote: "This is a funny, pointless and erroneous question..."

Is it pointless if it generates thoughtful discussion between 30-odd, interested, thoughtful and lit-passionate people?

Maybe it's funny though. I'll give you that.


message 45: by Christos (new)

Christos Tsotsos Alford wrote: How ever don't be troubled if someone else has one also. :0) "

I guess nobody likes a smartass is what you are telling me in a kind way. Point taken. No I am not troubled, just cranked up.


message 46: by Christos (new)

Christos Tsotsos Armand wrote: Is it pointless if it generates thoughtful discussion between 30-odd, interested, thoughtful and lit-passionate people?"

I think it is yes. I am not sure what you mean about thoughtful discussion, some of the comments made were very superficial. There are parts where a thoughtful discussion does occur though and that is when people wonder why someone would think that Odysseus is a jerk? That part I enjoyed reading about.

Now maybe there could be a thoughtful discussion on analysing Odysseus as a character. Part of it might be difficult without some background on ancient greek culture. A question like that is not pointless as it has also some scientific scope. I would not mind opening a new discussion thread on: Who is Odysseus and what does he stand for in ancient greek culture? How would he be recieved, judged by wester or modern european standards? (I am working on it) Then you might introduce a phrase like 'some think he is a jerk, because...' and state the reasons. Then conlcude.

At least we agree it is funny. I will work on that and avoid being too annoying. Discussion threads can be too impersonal.


message 47: by Alford (new) - added it

Alford Wayman Christos wrote: "Armand wrote: Is it pointless if it generates thoughtful discussion between 30-odd, interested, thoughtful and lit-passionate people?"

I think it is yes. I am not sure what you mean about thoughtf..."


I would be most intrested in having such a dicussion. Let me know if you open the topic you mention above. I think it would be intresting.


Armand There are parts where a thoughtful discussion does occur though and that is when people wonder why someone would think that Odysseus is a jerk?

Someone might think a protagonist in a work of fiction is a jerk if they show up after twenty years and murder everyone who's ever offended them in a fit of bloodlust that rivals most horror movies.

When he gets home Odysseus goes on a rampage, killing all the suitors of his wife, despite the fact that he's been gone twenty years. Is it unreasonable to assume that a man gone twenty years is dead? What was the average lifespan back then anyway?

He kills them all despite the fact that at least some of them offer to apologize and pay him back for the food they've eaten. (it's in the text) Do they have the right to apologize? Guess not.

Nope, he traps them all in his dining room and (with the help of his son and Athena) proceeds to kill them all. Gut them, really.

And that's nothing compared to sick stuff that he visits on the female servants who've allowed themselves to be "touched" by the suitors.

He orders those women hanged.

Let's think about the story from one of the female servant's perspective:

She was probably a very young woman when Odysseus left. Maybe so young that she doesn't even remember the guy. Maybe she's only eighteen years old, and she was born after he left town. Then she lives her life, makes her friends, has her hopes and aspirations and dreams (although most of her dreams will come up short, right, because she's a servant). Then, once she's grown up, these men start showing up at the household. One of the suitors is nice to her. Maybe she falls for him. Maybe he's using her. Maybe it's just a one night stand. They sleep together. And then Odysseus returns. Orders her killed. The last moment of her life nothing but horror and pain.

Could Odysseus have forgiven? Could he have shown mercy? I think empathy, compassion and mercy were around durign the time of the ancient Greeks. These are ultimately the author's choices of course. Homer's design, if you will, was to create a character who cannot forgive not even the most impersonal of slights. He may have suffered on his voyage, but it hasn't turned him off from visiting suffering on to others. he's seen people eaten alive and murdered in every different manner, but he still places little value on human life.

Yes this book is a classic, and it's a happy thing that it's informed literature in a million ways and an important part of the literary canon. In fact, I'm very happy I read it.

But I am still allowed to approach this from a personal perspective which is-yes- this man is not a hero. At best, he's a survivor and loyalist.


message 49: by Christos (new)

Christos Tsotsos Armand wrote: But I am still allowed to approach this from a personal perspective which is-yes- this man is not a hero. At best, he's a survivor and loyalist.

Of course this is a free world but if you allow personal sentiment in the discussion you have to demonstrate clarity in the conclusions and work on the facts.

I have to admit the above explanation is very interesting.

Odysseus has a number of interpretations in greek it means Enraged, Full of Hate, or Hated by Gods. Homer calls him 'the guide' or one who is capable of inducing and receiving pain, something like a primitive sadomachochist.

Odyssey is a rhapsody, performed by wandering men who went from city state to city state making a living by performing the epic poem. It is claimed that they could remember it in its full twelve thousand odd verses. I suppose if they could not remember something they made it up. We cannot treat the whole poem, however, as if it is the work of one man. Additions to the story were probably made by other poets and most likely they added certain things that were more dramatic or more interesting and could entertain the audience increasing the return in coinage. If you compare the Odysseus of Illiad and Odysseus of Odyssey (some say writen by at least two different poets due to the chronological distance between the two poems) they are almost like two different people.

Ok encyclopedics aside, we can tell that Odysseus is not a character that inspires sympathy at a first glance, he for one challenged the gods, he is cocky, he is an egoist. I mean seven years with Calypso (there are stories of her and Circe fathering his children) and then jump on a raft 'thank you, bye bye I am off back to a woman which I probably do not even remember her face'.

He seems to escape situations leaving corpses behind him. He left with twelve boats and returned alone, to slay the next young prominent generation of Ithaca (along with others from elsewhere in Greece).

I prefer to move the focus away from Odysseus and onto the role Athina and the gods played in all these. Since we are providing a personal perspective, I believe that it is the act of the gods that encouraged and fostered a character like Odysseus. Evidently you cannot blame Odysseus for his nature, but blame the gods who supported him, not all of them did, but all wanted to prove the same point. Athina stopped the people of Ithaca revenging the death of the young men of their island, they wanted to avenge the death of the men who left Ithaca to go with Odysseus and never returned. Athina stopped them and they as obedient (or terrified, god fearing) folk they were did not and let him claim his throne and continue life in peace. The gods gave back Odysseus his riches and reward him for returning back into the path of faith.

There could not be any compassion for the suitors. Ancient greeks considered honour as something worth to kill for. For that the rhapsody works against them. They treat the servants awfully, the laugh at the beggars, a sense of anomie exists in the house, they conspire against Telemachus who escapes sort to speak going to look for his father. The suitors rake havoc and almost bankrupt Odysseus house. Odysseus himself disguised as a beggar saw the true nature of them and that shield his decision.

There could be no compassion for Melantho and the other servants. They are depicted as traitors, betraying their master. Ok they were probably young or not met Odysseus in their life, so they betrayed Penelope. My personal interpretation is that Penelope was aware of them having sex with the suitors, she took sneaky peaks of them and contemplated to disguise herself as a maid to relieve some of her 20 year old frustration, maybe that is why Odysseus being a macho chauvinist 'jerk' had to slay them... But that is far fethced and unrealistic.

Again Athina helped. How many men can 4 people kill, certainly not over one hundred, not without the help of gods (men are nothing without gods).

Does Odysseus deserves what he received? Can I Identify with Odysseus? In what way?

After all that I take back my initial comment, yes the question is not eloquently put but it has merit and yes the discussion that follows is not pointless.


message 50: by Alford (new) - added it

Alford Wayman Christos wrote: "Armand wrote: But I am still allowed to approach this from a personal perspective which is-yes- this man is not a hero. At best, he's a survivor and loyalist.

Of course this is a free world but i..."


Excellent! Well done. I am working on a post about the cosmic Odysseus. And why that Odysseus maybe mistaken for a "Jerk" I found you post enjoyable to read.


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Books mentioned in this topic

The Essential Odyssey (other topics)
Tam O'Shanter (other topics)
Piracy in the Ancient World (other topics)
The Trojan Carousel (other topics)
Oedipus Rex (other topics)
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Authors mentioned in this topic

Simon Armitage (other topics)