Personal Response to The Odyssey

The Odyssey by Homer is an epic poem. It begins with the main hero of the poem Odysseus stuck on an island, about 10 years after the Trojan War. He had become trapped on this island after angering the god Poseidon. The gods had, later on, discussed Odysseus’s fate, for what they should do next with his life.

The Odyssey had been created more or less so for listeners rather than readers. In the past, people would listen to poets or Rhapsodes telling the story. The people who would pay to listen to the poem were individuals who already had an understanding of most of the events and how the poem was arranged. The poem is arranged in a way that would confuse someone who is reading it for the first time. For me at least I continuously found myself reading the poem with no understanding as to what I was actually reading. I think this happened due to how boring the book was because it lacked the idea of suspense. The poem had been put together by more than one poet. Various poets had brought together their stories, greek myths songs, and many other things they had heard in their past into the poem. They made sure The Odyssey had a fixed meter throughout, repetition of passages from the past, and certain details in each book about how the gods, beasts, or location within specific parts of the story looked. Through these things, the poets were able to keep themselves attached to the narrative parts of the poem. Like how the chorus keeps themselves attached to the songs within a poem or book.

The gods throughout The Odyssey have the ability to change anything however they like, they can stop and start wars, they can kill and trap people and so much more. Most of the mortal humans within The Odyssey find themselves trying to please the gods in any way they can so that they will be protected and hopefully suffer no harm for their actions. They pray, even bad people pray for the gods to help them. Or at least give an offering to the gods as the suitors did. “As for ourselves, we’ll make restitution of wine and meat consumed, and add, each one, a tithe of twenty oxen with gifts of bronze and gold to warm your heart. Meanwhile, we cannot blame you for your anger” (p. 411).

A question that on many occasions crossed my mind was: what does Odysseus want? At first, when I read about his travels we read about how he stayed in comfort with the witch Kirke for about a year. He slept with her and this made me question whether or not he wanted to get home. Since it seemed as if O did not love his wife Penelope. Another time this question arose within my mind was when Odysseus went to Hades. There he learned that no matter what, life was better than death. In Hades, he saw people in pain, he felt the fire on his skin and eventually noticed that his mother was there. He talked to her and was surprised that she had died. I believe that once Odysseus had realized his father was still alive he wanted to go and visit him and see his wife before she died as well. This reason to see his father must have been why Book XXIV was written.

I found The Oddysey very difficult to understand. I at times became lost as to what I was reading because I had barely any previous knowledge or liking of ancient Greek mythology in my past. I feel that when it comes to individuals who do not have background information about the different parts of Greek mythology then it would be unwise to try to read The Odyssey by yourself. You would most likely find yourself either lost like I was or confused as to what you are reading. I disliked how the places Odysseus had found himself in for example Kirke’s island or Kalypso’s island were only small parts of the poem. The poem does not share much about Odysseus’s experiences within these new places on his journey home. Places like these Odysseus had found himself in could honestly be written individually as small books or poems. If this was done and The Odyssey was written in separate small books or poems then would it be easier to understand the adventures Odysseus had gone through? The Odyssey does not explain enough of Odysseus’s adventures and this brings up many questions we can not answer.

The lack of suspense within the poem made me not want to read it. We knew what was eventually going to happen, we needed to know this however to understand The Odyssey better. Without having this small amount of information about the order of events it would take you a considerable amount of time to understand what is going on and where specific books in the poem are taking place. Nonetheless, the Odyssey is an interesting book that I recommend for someone to read with assistance. Whether a teacher or someone who understands The Odyssey enough to answer basic questions the reader may have about it.

 

 

 

 

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