Odyssey Reflection

When reading The Odyssey, by Homer, I appreciated Homer’s use of minor characters used to build the identity of the major characters. He does this often in his books; and a time I could appreciate it was with Nausikaa. She is a very significant character to the story’s plot, but one of her main purposes is to show all the traits of Odysseus. We see his charm and wit as he wins her over, and then we see his planning and foresight as he uses her to make a plan to get himself home. This is just one of the ways that Homer uses his clever technique.

However, not everything in the Odyssey was as clever and interesting as that. For example, the first three books of the Odyssey include no such characters as well as being extremely boring in their content. The first three books are crucial to set up the whole ending of the story; but the same amount of content could have been written in two less books. This is unenjoyable because it sets a boring mood for the rest of the story. Which, for the first ten books I couldn’t get rid of as I was just expecting them to be boring. If Homer had written a shorter beginning to the story I would have enjoyed it significantly more.

On the other hand, I was surprised by how stupid Odysseus seemed to be for the ‘smartest mortal to ever live’ by a margin of two. When I say stupid I don’t mean dull, witless, or useless. What I mean is that Odysseus would often have his journey prolonged from things that wouldn’t make sense to someone whose only want was to make it home. Some of the things that prolonged Odysseus were his meaningless trips on to various islands that would often results in trouble. I think the reason Homer makes Odysseus like this is as a satirical joke at how stupid men can be. When I realized this I was less surprised and understood the joke more, however, it was still surprising.

Response to “The Odyssey”

What did you enjoy the most about The Odyssey, and why?

What I enjoyed most while reading “The Odyssey” would have to be the adventures that Odysseus had to go through, building his character and shaping my opinion of him. From the end of the trojan war through meeting shockingly beautiful women on deserted and not so deserted Islands. Resisting terrible urges to ask for help in returning back home and taking his rightful place as king. I was able to see his strengths, not just physically but also mentally resisting temptations, sometimes more than other times, however, always returning to the not so simple goal of returning home. Yet, he wasn’t always this strong. There had been moments where he had almost crumbled but managed to get back up.

What did you enjoy the least about The Odyssey, and why?

The least enjoyable part was probably the book itself. This may sound confusing, but what I’m implying is that it was not very interesting to read as it was hard to keep track of events. Throughout reading often I would have to restart the chapter completely as I noticed that what I had read and comprehended made no apparent sense and that I would not be able to understand unless I attempted it again. Although the writing was not difficult to understand, the structuring in itself most definitely was.

What surprised you the most about The Odyssey?

The most surprising thing to me was the relationships between the gods and ordinary human beings/mortals. Not only did the gods interfere when they saw necessary for the greater good, but they were personally invested. The Gods showed compassion, hatred, and support. Two great examples are Athena and Poseidon. Athena put in a lot of effort to support Odysseus’ son in an attempt to find Odysseus and for him to regain control of his home. Poseidon, on the other hand, did not want to help anyone. He was mad at Odysseus and attempted multiple times to end his life, presumingly only for personal gain.

 

Personal Response to Homer’s Odyssey

What did you enjoy the most about The Odyssey, and why?

While reading The Odyssey, I found that I thoroughly enjoyed discovering Odysseus’ character. We see him through many perspectives which gives us insight on who he really is and the type of person Odysseus is. We read about his successes, his downfalls, his suffering and at last, his peace and how he came to finally being king again. Furthermore, seeing Odysseus’ hardships and how he adapted and persevered, made me like his character more. For example, looking back at the moment Odysseus’ men opened the bag of winds, Odysseus wanted to give up and stated “Should I go overside for a quick finish or clench my teeth and stay among the living?” After suffering so much Odysseus still kept going and showed utmost strength. This showed what kind of character Odysseus really was and showed his endurance and determination. I also enjoyed analyzing the book in class and getting the full picture. It allowed a more in depth analysis which led to a deeper understanding of The Odyssey.

 

What did you enjoy the least about The Odyssey, and why?

I did not enjoy the beginning of the book (around 1-3) where least action and adventure took place. It was more about assembling a crew/ship to find lost Odysseus and Telemachus going to the Red Haired King for advice. I find these parts less interesting because I found Odysseus’ adventures and stories throughout the middle and rest of the book to be most enjoyable and compelling to read. Additionally, during the first couple of books I was still unfamiliar with the characters which made me question many roles and their purpose in the book. 

 

What surprised you the most about The Odyssey?

What surprised me the most was definitely Odysseus’ adventures and the characters involved, as well as understanding how gods and mortals existed among each other, since I had not read anything like The Odyssey before. There were some concepts between gods and mortals that I had questioned. An example would be how the mortal characters would know a god that showed up in the form of a human was interacting with them? Like they just had a feeling and knew it was a god sending them a message in mortal form. The one eyed Kyklops, the witch “Kirke ”, the ship swallowing whirlpool “Charybdis’ ‘, and the sea monster “Scylla” were all characters that appeared in Odysseus’ adventures that surprised me and I did not expect those characters to appear. They all had interesting parts in the story and most created conflict and obstacles for Odysseus in returning to Ithaka.

English: Response to “The Odyssey”

While reading Homers Odyssey I came to find some marvelous passages that are filled with epic content and stories. In this huge poem we go over Odysseus adventures that took well over 10 years. What I liked the most about the text is mainly that this book was the creation of western literature. While reading this I gazed upon many of the travels and stories that Odysseus had to tell and I really enjoyed the part where we is tied to the mast while his boat is passing through the sirens. The reason I liked that part is because the sirens are very famous in pirate’s stories and I truly find them quite interesting. Another part that I really came to enjoy was the story when Odysseus stabbed the giant Cyclops after hiding in his giant sheep.

 

While the poem started, when we were on the first books and Odysseus was nowhere to be found, I thought that part was going really slow which made it the thing I enjoyed the least, the reason for this is since the war with Troy just ended I wanted to see even more fights, raiding and pillaging but Homer didn’t seem to include this at the beginning so it kind of went against my expectations.

What I found the most surprising about “The Odyssey” is with no doubt it’s way it survived. It is truly impressive how a text so old survived burning buildings, changes of era, changes of languages, among others. Also the fact that people used to learn the text by remembering seemed pretty crazy and truly astonishing.

 

Response to “The Odyssey” Sergio Camarillo

  1. What did you enjoy the most about The Odyssey, and why?

What I enjoyed the most about the odyssey was to see odysseus’ character development. When we first meet him he is already stranded and is almost broken. We meet him in a medium point in character development as he has already gone through stuff. Then we start to know more about him as he starts to tell more about his adventures. Yet what impressed me the most about him was in the end when he is disguised as a beggar and is dining with the suitors. They constantly taunt him and yet he never breaks as his “maturity has risen.” Later when he is killing the suitors we see that he doesn’t really enjoy the massacre, but rather does it because it needs to be done. He didn’t really want revenge, just justice.

 

  1. What did you enjoy the least about The Odyssey, and why?

What I enjoyed the least was that at time it became difficult to read and bored me at times. I didn’t really enjoy it at certain parts and it was more of reading it because I have to rather than reading it because I enjoyed it, making it more difficult for me to extract more details and be curious about it. This made me also not be able to properly remember stuff as my brain would go blank in reading some passages, making it hard for me to remember characters unless they appeared constantly. This affected how i would imagine the scenarios and couldn’t “see” them properly.

 

 

  1. What surprised you the most about The Odyssey?

What surprised me the most about the odyssey was the way the gods interacted with the mortals. I always thought that the gods never spoke to the people often like that. I knew that zeus often disguised himself in order to fool around with women but I didn’t think the gods would influence things so directly as athena did throughout the story. The moment that impressed me the most was when athena revealed her identity to odysseus, as I never thought she would do that. Also how she would have such a fascination with odysseus, admiring him and helping him. I knew that the gods did have preferences but not to the point that she would help odysseus so much, especially regarding the suitors.

 

Response to “The Odyssey”

What I enjoyed the most about The Odyssey was how the author is presenting the story because it makes it more interesting. Starting with Telemakhos searching for his dad with characters along the path who tells him what they know about his father, Odysseus. This made me be intrigue of what is going to happen as there are clues and Odysseus comes up later instead of starting with the main character narrating the story. Adding up with Athena being involved in the events, this creates the connexion between the gods and Odysseus’ story. Following with Odysseus narrating his story, this immersed me into the storyline. Finally, Odysseus getting in Ithaka and the author making pauses with stories from the past and conversations between the characters, had me wanting to end the book and compelled to keep reading.

What I enjoyed the least about The Odyssey was the beginning and the introduction of characters because it got me confused. There are a lot of characters and family trees that are introduced, the storyline goes slowly at the beginning explaining what is happening and there are events that already happened before Odysseus went missing.

What surprised me the most is all the things that Odysseus needed to do and did so that he could come back home safe, from sailing home, to being in Ithaka and waiting the right moment to reveal himself to kill the suitors.

Personal Response to Homer’s Odyssey

Homer’s Odyssey, an ancient Greek epic poem that chronicles the 10 years of absurd and fantastical adventures that befall war hero Odysseus, is an extremely famous historical work that most people are at least somewhat familiar with. However, due to the density of the text, not many (myself included) consider it for casual reading. So when I ultimately picked up a copy of The Odyssey for the first time, there were a few elements that came as a surprise. The most notable of these was the extremely prominent dissonance between the cultural values of the time The Odyssey was written and those of modern society. Of course, this was not entirely unexpected, as the inequalities of ancient Greek society are rather well known. Still, the dramatic clash was a bit of a shock for me, particularly the attitude towards vengeance and justice, which in this poem are presented as synonymous.

Putting aside the cultural dissonance, there were quite a few things about the poem that I genuinely enjoyed. The writing style, for one, I found very appealing, though this is more likely a factor of the translation rather than the text itself. The characterization of Odysseus I also appreciated. Rather than a flawless hero, the poem’s emphasis on his cunning (demonstrated throughout), his penchant for weaving complex lies, and his apparent lack of remorse, combined with genuinely positive attributes such as unwavering determination and love for his family, make him a much deeper character. Odysseus himself is the main standout of The Odyssey.

While there was a lot of good in The Odyssey, there was one main aspect of the poem that slightly soured my experience. Again, I probably should’ve expected this, but I was quite disappointed by just how little time was devoted to Odysseus’ iconic homeward voyage. Following along with his journey throughout the various monster-inhabited islands of the Mediterranean Sea was easily the most interesting part of the story, and I do wish we were treated to a more detailed account.

Homer Odyssey

The thing that I enjoyed most when reading The Odyssey was the way they created Odyyseus to not necessarily be all good, but be cunning and sly as well. The creativity of the general poem was very entertaining and interesting to read as well. The reason why the poem was so entertaining, was because of the use of different figures of speech that added more life to the writing.

The Odyssey was an overall enjoyable read, but it could get confusing at times. The writing is a translation so at times it was difficult to make sense of. Also, the poem: The Odyssey, is a higher level of writing than I typically read and am used to. Another thing that bugged me while reading this translation of The Odyssey, is that it took upon an opinion of religion, mostly Christianity.

Something that surprised me while reading The Odyssey was the use of the gods. An instance for this would be Athena following Odysseus around during the poem, but during those times, the Greeks would see someone that is wise, as somebody well-liked by Athena. This brings back how the Greeks thought and their interpretations of people being super strong, smart, athletic, fast, etc…

 

Odyssey Response

I enjoyed reading books 8-12 of the Odyssey more than the rest of the poem. It was full of action and was a detailed explanation of what happened in Odysseus’ experiences. I also enjoyed reading the last few books because there was a build up of tension until finally Odysseus became king once again. it is interesting how Athena seems to be toying with the suitors and people in the story for her entertainment. I could tell that Odysseus was never going to be that hurt or that he was going to die. In some many stories there are sad endings where a main character dies but I could tell that this was not the case for the Odyssey.

The parts that I enjoyed the least about the Odyssey were the build ups like at the beginning of the poem. The parts where nothing was really happening and where Odysseus had not been introduced yet were boring to read. There was no action in these parts.

The parts that surprised me about the Odyssey were that everyone except for the suitors were nice to beggars and homeless people. These days people usually avoid people like this. The Odyssey tells us a lot about Ancient Greek life and how people were excepting of each other and always kind and generous.

The Odyssey response

The Odyssey was quite amazing for me. The thing that I really enjoyed most about the poem is that at the surface, the story can be so dramatic that I feel like there is always something amazing awaiting for me in the next chapters, like I never know what will happen. Also the journey of Odysseus is meaningful, in the sense that there is always something we can learn about his long journey and learn something for ourselves. Last but not least, The Odyssey gave me a big picture about the drama of Greek mythology and I have learnt how intertwined the characters can be, as well as the characters and gods, goddess presented in the story.

However, the poem did make have some hard time, especially in trying to always stay on top with every little details and the relationship between characters, which can often make me feel discourage from reading the book. Also, sometimes understanding sentence structures can be a major issue for me as well.

The thing that really surprised me most is how massive the story plus the history of Greek can be. This is mostly due to the fact that everyone seems to be playing some role in a bigger picture and sometimes navigating around it can feel tricky, too.

The Odyssey Response

The part of The Odyssey I enjoyed the most was in Book 8 when Odysseus participated in the series of athletic contests. I really enjoyed this part because it was very entertaining and interesting to me to learn about the “first Olympics”. I also enjoyed it because the games are quite similar to the games we play now for the Olympics as well, like boxing, wrestling, racing, and the throwing of the discus. Another part of it that I liked was when Odysseus was able to prove Broadsea and the other Phaeacians by easily winning the discus and beating them all. Book 8 was the best book in The Odyssey overall in my opinion. 

The part of The Odyssey I enjoyed the least was book 1 when everything was starting, it was kind of slow and boring in my opinion. I also could not understand everything that was being said and what was happening because I did not know the gods names or what they did, who they were, etc. As the poem went on it did get easier to understand who everyone was, and understanding the words everyone used.

I was most surprised by the part in The Odyssey when Odysseus got angry and acted irrational towards Cyclops Polyphemus the son of Poseidon. Odysseus is commonly known as a calm man who is able to think on the spot and make the best decisions but, after blinding Polyphemus as they are sailing away he yells at him, stating his name and angering Poseidon even more. This was quite surprising as it was so out of character for Odysseus, after discussing this in class it was clear that he was this upset because he had angered his own crew and some of them had been killed because of his own mistake. He had blamed himself for everything that happened on that island. 

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.

 

 

 

 

WDolan_Odyssey_Reflection

The Odyssey is an epic poem written by Homer, taking place in ancient Greece. It focuses on the ten year struggle of Odysseus returning home after the Trojan war. During Odysseus’ battles with mythical creatures and the wrath of the gods, his wife Penelope and his son Telemachus fight to hold off suitors, who want to marry Penelope, and behold the throne of Ithaka.

The Odyssey should be given credit for its mass amount of geographical information, and use of an attention grabbing theme. It involves a hero and who is trying to make his way home to his family, and throne. The from uses dactylic hexameter, which is a form of rhythmic tempo within poetry. It includes 6 foot lines where every foot has either a long syllable followed by two short ones (this is called a dactyl), or just two more long syllables (this is called a spondee). The first four feet can either be a dactyl or a spondee, and the fifth is usually a dactyl.

I found the Odyssey interesting for it’s form and use of suspense. Many detailed parts of the book seemed like they could have been left out to keep the reader engaged in the action. It took a long time to reach the end goal, and the ending was ruined by the potential of another war. The interruption of Odysseus’ reunion with his family seemed unnecessary to me. The repeating of the characters traits such as: “grey eyed Athena” was irritating. It’s inclusion of themes such as seduction, paradise, death, and temptation were fascinating as they reflect the problems of modern day humanity. The idea that there may never be a paradise that can satisfy every individual therefore being a form of death within itself was engrossing.

In conclusion, the Odyssey is not a horrible book. However, it is not something I would recommend to readers (especially millennials) as it is very extensive, and doesn’t seem to have enough of a connection with the modern world.

Personal Response to The Odyssey

Despite being written approximately 3000 years ago, The Odyssey, by Homer, challenges us to question ourselves and our priorities, while simultaneously questioning Odysseus. At the start of his journey, Odysseus longs for action, glory, and excitement. He’s a young man, seeking adventure一something that many young people can relate to. He defends, he fights, he conquers. He builds his reputation, leaving one title for himself: a hero. However, after travelling to Hades and witnessing real death, he aches for life; the mortality of his loved ones, the reconnection with his family, the evasion of death. Odysseus has that life altering moment. He experiences something so significant that he realizes exactly what he wants一needs to be doing. In reality, most of us aren’t fortunate enough to have that momentous experience or realization. There’s no big BOOM!, or if there is, it often blows over quickly, whether that’s positive or negative. Prior to this significant event (Odysseus’ visit to Hades), Odysseus’ personal characteristics and desires are questionable. He allows himself to be tempted by several obstructions blocking his path home, such as the beautiful goddess, Kirke, or the glory of beating the Kyklops, regardless of the effect it would have on his crew. Moreover, Odysseus’ reluctance to travel home to his parents, wife, and child demonstrates how little he prioritizes family. To contrast, after going to Hades, Odysseus’s likeability increases, because he has a sudden shift in his priorities and values. This raises the question, did Odysseus need this profound, life-altering experience to grow? What does that reveal about us? Is personal growth acquired through multiple life experiences, or through one earth-shattering one?

Preceding this event, would we consider Odysseus heroic? Is he a good person? We recognize Odysseus as a hero, but as I was reading The Odyssey, I repeatedly found myself contemplating that. On a spectrum ranging from good to bad, Odysseus is morally grey at best. Yes, he is courageous, intelligent, and brave, but he is also disloyal, hubristic, and hypocritical. During Odysseus’ hard times, I feel sympathy for him. For instance, the scene when he sees his mother in Hades, without knowing she had died, is heartbreaking, because we see vulnerability and tenderness within him. Nonetheless, the brutal deaths of the maids and suitors had me reconsidering my stance on those qualities, due to how rapidly he can turn his compassion on and off.

Throughout this poem, I began to grasp how consistent human nature is. Although we have evolved tremendously on superficial levels, we’re still fundamentally the same as characters in The Odyssey. People still have that unwavering ambition that we see within Odysseus, the wise intelligence Penelope possesses, and the sheer heartbreak Anticlea is pained with. In modern life, we observe Telemakhos’ coming-of-age story retold in many contexts, and we feel ourselves experiencing it. People encounter the same temptations Odysseus does, underneath different, luring facades. The problematic patriarchal society we’re trying to move past is so difficult to conquer, because it’s been rooted in society since before the 8th century BCE. We may think that we’re different to these characters, and in many ways we are. But ultimately, we can see ourselves in them. The reason why we can read a book like The Odyssey and raise questions such as, ‘Why do we suffer?’ is due to the poem’s emphasis on human nature, and our ability to connect with it. As we have discussed in class, it has a different effect on us depending on our life experience and emotional state. The Odyssey was a challenging read, but due to this reason, I’m certain I will one day read it again.

The Odyssey: Notes on Fate and Suffering

Prevalent in The Odyssey are the topics of Fate and Suffering. Questions are raised about what forces control our fates, and what the origins of the events that cause our suffering are. The reader is given insights into the common ideologies of the time, and the motivations of the characters to behave in certain ways. Take as example their belief in morals, and how they affected what their fate, i.e., the gods’ opinion about them, were prevalent in the book: (Fitzgerald, 1961) “Young friends, no mortal man can vie with Zeus. His home and all his treasures are for ever. But as for men, it may well be that few have more than I. How painfully I wandered before I brought it home! Seven years at sea . . . But while I made my fortune on those travels a stranger killed my brother, in cold blood,—tricked blind, caught in the web of his deadly queen. What pleasure can I take, then being lord over these costly things? How gladly I should live one third as rich to have my friends back safe at home!” (p.55-56)

This is how Menelaos, richest of the kings at the time of the story responds to Telemakhos’ comment on his splendor rivaling that of Zeus’. He begins by rejecting that statement, then differentiates how he is merely a mortal, rather than Zeus who would live forever. He then states the obvious: he may be the richest man alive, however he contrasts that with the humble sufferings of his life, and how he is no different from any other person who suffers; his wealth comes from the common place of suffering. Instead of using it to widen the social difference between he and poor peasants, he talks about how it was events of the world which led him to being wealthy, and events of the world to which he is forever in debt for his wealth. Through this quote, it can be interpreted Menelaos believes the world is somewhere of unfair suffering, where we are all victims of a malicious culpable world that executes suffering unjustly. Then to ratify this statement, we can see how Odysseus, for no apparent reason except fate, ended up stuck on Kalypso’s island for seven years, or how Paris, son of king Priam, chose to take Helen back to Troy, igniting the Trojan War. Menelaos shows humility in how he understands himself to be part of a much larger and stronger world, of which he has no control. Then, a situation occurs where Menelaos is justified in showing contempt, rather than empathy:

(Fitzgerald, 1961) “Intolerable—that soft men, as those are, should think to lie in that great captain’s bed. Fawns in a lion’s lair! As if a doe put down her litter of sucklings there, while she quested a glen or cropped some grassy hollow. Ha! Then the lord returns to his own bed and deals out wretched doom on both alike. So will Odysseus deal out doom on these. O Father Zeus, Athena, and Apollo!” (p.63)

In his response to Telemakhos’ description of events at the great hall on Ithaka, Menelaos denounces the suitors and threatens them with suffering. Instead of generousity, he conveys anger and repulsion at the notion, and uses demeaning language by reference to as if they were courting a doe’s sucklings, implying that is all they can and are worth to court. Then he appeals to the gods of justice, Zeus, Athena, and Apollo, to be ratified of his own statement. This example of morals—how others should be treated—is very different from the previous example of Menelaos denouncing his own valour, empathizing with the common people. It represents how it seemed just worthy to bear commonality to people who seemed well-intentioned, whilst others deserved scorn. And, arguably, that is still the case in modern times, as we, as people, choose to befriend those who we deem morally similar rather than those who our principles conflict with. However, the stark difference from The Odyssey’s ancient Greece and our own world is how there exists a divine law of the admirable qualities in a person, rather than the unmonitored and unsolidified qualities we, in the modern world, possess.

In The Odyssey, fate and suffering are determined by the will of the gods, as expressed by random events, prophecies and omens, and direct or indirect appearances by the gods. People must conform by the acceptable social standards of politeness, or they are punishable by the gods. In The Odyssey, anyone who acted against moral principle went to the fields of Asphodel, while the good-natured others went to the heavens with the gods. What was determined to be good-natured was rigid and unrelenting. That way, fate was directly based on how people comported themselves in life. Whereas suffering happened even to the best of people, like Odysseus, however it was the response to suffering which could be determined admirable or unadmirable, which in turn determined the person’s fate. If one kept genuinity and humbleness through their life experiences, rather than becoming bitter and revengeful, like the suitors, would likely be rewarded later by the gods, as in Odysseus’ case. In our modern world, though, there is no fate. Our will to behave morally and admirably is instead based on social rules and interpersonal respect. It is less likely our decisions will have as dire consequences as they would in The Odyssey, nor will they condemn us after we die. However, we still suffer identically to characters in The Odyssey, and the only thing we can blame for causing it is the world. Likewise, our approach to overcoming suffering, profiting from our experiences, and sharing kindness to others through everyone’s commonality under this absurd world stays the same. Although the world of The Odyssey is drastically different, holding divine forces and concrete social laws, our world is fundamentally similar, and what issues afflict us, and the basis on which we live among each other, are still the same. Throughout time, even as beliefs change on the source of fate and suffering, these issues are still core to who we are as human beings. It shows how it is impossible to understand: Why do we suffer?, and what is good and what is bad?

Paradise and Death

“Paradise and Death: The Temptations of Odysseus” written by Eric T.  Macknight, illustrates the temptations Odysseus faced throughout his journey home. Homer’s Odysseus comes across multiple opportunities to live in comfort rather than in pain. However, these opportunities were never there to help save Odysseus from his pain, rather to slowly bring his life to an end.

These opportunities that are written within The Odyssey as chances for Odysseus to live in paradise are actually chances for him to live in comfort, meaning to live in death. The opportunities are: “the land of the Lotus-eaters; Kirke’s island; the Sirenes; Kalypso’s island’ the three days swimming at sea after his raft is destroyed by Poseidon and Phaiakia” (p. 2).  Why is Odysseus’s life an adventure and how does he make it out of these opportunities for death that are disguised as paradises? It is because Odysseus knows that life is nothing without pain.

“Paradise and Death: The Temptations of Odysseus” is a well-written piece that through examples from The Odyssey and other readings such as: “The greek Myths (Baltimore, 1955)” (p. 10). It helps us to better understand the truth about The Odyssey and how Odysseus is portrayed. The truth is that Odysseus’s life is not quite different from our own.

“In our ‘magical islands,’ we have manicured lawns, gleaming automobiles, tastefully landscaped homes. Inside are wall-to-wall carpeting, double-wide refrigerators, cable TV, and centralized climate-control systems. Like Phaiákia, these paradises promise comfort and pleasure—a refuge from the harsh realities. Suburban life offers all the temptations that beckoned Odysseus. Like the Lotos Eaters, we consume drugs to escape from reality. In our glorification of youth, our denial of death, and our frequent refusal to honestly confront the future, we hearken to the Seirênês song. Like the Phaiákians, we lose ourselves in trivial pleasures and amusements. And our alarming rate of suicide, especially among the young, shows how strong is the temptation to “sink beneath the waves, let go, and die.” (pp. 16-17)

After reading this we can better understand how the temptations Odysseus’s faces are very similar in fact to certain temptation within our own lives. To escape the reality we tend to choose the easy path and live in comfort. But this path will never make us happy. Odysseus chooses pain over comfort because he knows that if he does not feel the pain he would not be living.

“Odysseus rejects a life of indolent leisure as he rejects death itself. Why? He knows that to live consciously is to recognize our limitations-our flaws, our feialties, our ignorance, our mortality-and struggle against them. To deny these limitations-to seek an illusory escape from them-is, in effect, to die.” (p. 17)

Our limitations are needed for us to live. Denying them we would find ourselves living a life that will end in death rather than in happiness. Accepting your limitations and removing comfort from your life is what you call living consciously. But when you choose to deny your limitations and live in comfort is what you call living unconsciously, which is not living at all.

“For Odysseus, for everyone, unconsciousness is death, and the only life worth living is that peculiarly human life, that life which ‘is pain’; that life in which joy and happiness are not given, and are never permanent, but are dearly bought, always temporary—and thereby unspeakably precious.” (pp. 17-18)

People tend to underthink what life is. Happiness never lasts, it is only temporary but within the moments you can feel it throughout your life is when you are truly living. “Paradise and Death: The Temptations of Odysseus” exemplifies through well-asserted paragraphs, clear and thoughtful use of words through each paragraph, and supporting evidence from The Odyssey and other similar reading how life should be understood. I have learned that pain is needed to live consciously within life. That without pain, we would be living unconsciously, which is living life surrounded not by happiness but rather by death.

 

 

Reflection on Paradise and Death

Paradise and Death by Eric Macknight talks about Odysseus’ journey after the 10 year Trojan war. It but it really talks about the brutal journey Odysseus had to go through suffering through all the pain and trying to find happiness while at the same time, facing the gods and losing all his men.

I learned how much pain Odysseus had to really go through especially after seeing his mother in the underworld. I also registered how many tragic events he had to go through. He was responsible for the death of his crewmates, and him discovering his mother died from missing Odysseus. You can tell the impact it made on him.

From the text, I learned that expressing emotion can catch the reader’s eye, and to be more descriptive and getting deeper into text, but not getting sidetracked and losing the topic. Another thing I learned that ties into the last part are to be more clearer with writing and make sure the text makes sense in your head.

WDolan English Paradise and Death

There are many things I learned about the Odyssey from the ‘Paradise and Death’ literary analysis.  There is a restless dissatisfaction with the pleasures of paradise and the inability to fully experience every fantasy life in paradise brings.  I observed and made note of how the author starts explaining the meaning and significance of the title right at the beginning.  This is a great tool for writing, as it is important for the reader to gain a summarized approach to the literary analysis first, to keep them engaged.

I learned about the main aspects included within the definition of death in the Odyssey. I liked how the author explains the meaning of each word included in the title. He begins with paradise, and then debunks his points with contradictory comments about death. I was amused by the way he was debating with himself about his previous mentions of paradise and death, and making sure to look at all viewpoints on the topic he was analysing.

The author also mixes the theme of paradise and death by mentioning how certain aspects of death do not exist without paradise since paradise is a form of death within itself. He references how Odysseus is in paradise when he sees his mother, but is really dead since she vanishes when he goes to hug her.  This situation strongly references the story of Sisyphus, and how every time he rolls the rock to the top of the hill, it suddenly rolls back down the hill, causing Sisyphus to start over again. I re-learned how good writing requires extra emphasis on important points, to persuade the reader to believe the statements you make. A great example of this is when the author returns to the subject of how death requires paradise, and writes about how living in the past is a form if death within itself, since we would not be able to experience other pleasures in the future.

I learned how Odysseus takes Penélopê for granted since she is mortal. He also uses Kalypso as a sort of medicine for his feelings, and would not be “so dissatisfied” with her if Penélopê was immortal. This then transitions into the thought of a paradise where we can love anyone we want.

I observed how paradise and death were linked again through the mentions of how to live forever would be to not live at all, and how paradises are a form of death when they pretend adversities don’t exist.

I liked how the conclusion mixes Homer’s world with our current world, and how human nature has not changed over the course of 2000 years. All paradises have their conflicts and forms of death. Our modern world contains pleasures such as technology, but when used offensively against others, it causes a physical and mental death.

DP English Literature 1 – Reflection on “Paradise and Death”

“Paradise and Death”, written by Eric MacKnight, expresses how the main character, Odysseus, pursues the goal of happiness in the book “The Odyssey” (by Homer). MacKnight brings up many points about how “The Odyssey” is a compelling series of books in how it makes you reflect on life and what its meaning is. All good literature contains big questions, and MacKnight’s essay talks about the big question “Who are we?” and provides evidence how this big question makes “The Odyssey” a compelling and insightful book, even to us, in the modern era.

MacKnight talks about how there were “…six opportunities to [for Odysseus] escape from his troubles: the land of the Lotos Eaters; Kirkê’s island; the Seirênês; Kalypso’s island; the three days swimming at sea after his raft is destroyed by Poseidon; and Phaiakìa.” (P.2) He then goes on to explain how each scenario offered a different way for Odysseus to spend the rest of his life. He explains how the Lotos Eaters offered a drug-induced euphoria, Kirke’s island offered a life of banquets and sleeping with Kirke, the Seirenes offered a life of living in the past, the three days at sea offered death, Kalypso’s island offered immortality, and Phaiakia offered a life of comfort and splendor. MacKnight then elaborates how each scenario offers a form of death, as a certain form of pain would be eliminated from Odysseus’ life and because we need pain to feel happiness, Odysseus would cease to be happy. A life without happiness, he argues, is a form of death.

My greatest takeaway from “Paradise and Death” is that underlying literature there are regularly big questions that you wouldn’t realize are there. I would never have thought that Kalypso’s island was a place of death until the class discussion we had talking about how all the plant life on the island was symbolic of death. It also would never have crossed my mind that Phaiakia would be a form of death, even though I understood Odysseus’ reasoning to go back to Ithaka (to see his home). I think MacKnight’s writing is excellent because, even though it uses simple vocabulary and sentence structure, it explores really compelling and resonant ideas that I would never have thought of before. These ideas are put plainly by him in his essay, and they benefit from that because they make you clearly understand what “The Odyssey” is really about.

Paradise and Death

Paradise and Death: The Temptations of Odysseus, by Mr. MacKnight,  raises and explores each of the major questions we consider while reading The Odyssey. Whether they’re discussed directly or indirectly, this essay highlights the connections between  each question. In The Odyssey, we travel alongside Odysseus as he encounters gods and monsters, suffers through pain, faces dangerous temptations, and grows as an individual. This analysis connects those adventures with current societal issues, as well as deep-rooted flaws in human nature.

The first question, the nature of the Greek gods, is raised in the discussion about immortality and what gives our lives meaning. As Odysseus encounters the Greek gods and goddesses (Kirkê and Kalypso) he’s tempted by paradisiacal islands and beautiful women. However, after being offered eternal life, he realizes that immortality would render his life meaningless. In Mr. MacKnight’s words,

. . . he longs for Penélopê precisely because she must die. If Penélopê (and Laertês and Telémakhos) were immortal, Odysseus would not be so dissatisfied with Kalypso, so impatient to get home; there would be plenty of time to do everything, without suffering any loss. . . It is because we mortals die that our lives are precious and our actions significant. (p. 9)

This introduces the following question, ‘Why do we suffer?’. Through broadening my literary knowledge, I have recognized a recurring trope that I noticed in this essay and in The Odyssey. Pain shades your life— it makes happiness better and sadness worse. It deepens your understanding of yourself and of the world. It keeps you connected with your emotions, and is imperative to hold onto, 

[Odysseus] wants to live fully, which means living consciously. He doesn’t want to suffer, but when suffering comes he wants to feel the pain the pain of losing his mother, of being separated from his family, or growing old and facing deathbecause only if he is fully conscious of life’s sorrows will he be fully conscious of its joys[.] (p. 14)

This quotation reminded me of an impactful line said in a monologue of a film, “Right now there’s sorrow. Pain. Don’t kill it, and with it the joy you’ve felt.” (Call Me By Your Name) Odysseus’ character and desires have shifted, because he has realizes that repressing the pain is not an option. He doesn’t want to live a life where he is numb to his emotions, like the Phaiákians. Pain is inevitable. We all suffer. It hurts, for some more than others, but it’s essential. This is exemplified when we compare pain to it’s emotionless alternative,

Living in their protected world, the Phaiákians never really suffer, but neither do they feel the unsurpassed joy, the inexpressible relief that comes when suffering ends. And neither do they have that intense appreciation of life that comes from recognizing its brevity, and the inevitability of loss and sorrow. (p. 14)

We suffer because it makes us human. We suffer to feel happiness. We suffer to acquire emotional depth— love, joy, grief, and passion, rather than liking, comfort, suppression and apathy. While visiting Hades, the land of the dead, Odysseus experiences death (without actually dying), which prompts his reconnection with life. He develops a new desire to travel home; a new appreciation for everyone and everything. His motivation is restored, and he wants to return to his family. Like suffering, death has allowed Odysseus to appreciate the alternative. 

In this essay, I observed clear, specific assertions, well-structured paragraphs, literary evidence to support the assertions, and further exploration. I saw a combination of analysis and links to society/human nature, which I admire. The language wasn’t flowery, but the points were insightful and powerful. This taught me that embellished language is unnecessary for impactful writing—something which I will attempt to improve going forward. 

What does Odysseus want?

In Homer’s “The Odyssey”, we see the main protagonist, Odysseus, go through a multitude of difficult and life-threatening tasks, having to utilize his superior intellect as well as apply his inner tactician to survive, but what exactly keeps his head up through all these hardships and losses of companions?

His primary objective is to return to his home town of Ithaca, and rejoice with his family he has longed for for years, and his second, to strike down all the suitors that are rudely occupying his hall.

But at times in the story it seems he is quite stubborn and lustful for other things, for example when he stops at Kirke’s island, instead of departing after saving his comrades, he decides to stay for a year and reside in Kirke’s home, which is simply the human nature of being lazy.

Relationship between the humans and the gods

In “The Odyssey” by Homer, there are various divine gods, all with different attitudes and abilities, with different attitudes toward the mortals who live under them. All the gods have different abilities or have certain control over things, for example Poseidon controls the sea and earthquakes, while Athena is more of a goddess of psyche.

In the book, we can see that certain gods are on the side of Odysseus, for example Athena, who helps him with his quest to return home, as well as helping boost Telemachus’s self-confidence. Poseidon on the other hand, has hatred and no mercy toward Odysseus, as he made his son Cyclops go blind. He makes Odysseus’s trip back to Ithaca more difficult by causing an earthquake and rough seas.

 

Odysseus’s character

Odysseus is portrayed as a strong, and very intelligent character in the book. His ability to think quickly in dire situations and his grit is also quite notable. He is a good strategist as well as being a good strategist in war. He is respected by the gods and is well known among the humans. Odysseus’s loyalty is shown when he rejects the beauty and the offer of immortality from the goddess Calypso to be with his wife, who will die and wont be beautiful forever.

We can see his courage to go home as he withstands the harsh conditions put upon him, the harsh sea as well as the massive waves caused by the earthquake god.