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Essay/Term paper: Odyssey theme paper

Essay, term paper, research paper:  The Odyssey

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The Odyssey Theme Paper

The Odyssey is mainly about the tribulations of a great hero; that hero would be Odysseus. Although Odysseus does not appear in this epic until the fifth book, he is still the main character. Odysseus, whom I will call the hero, has many tribulations in this epic. Read on to see what I mean.

This story starts right after the Trojan War; the Greeks have won, thanks to one of Odysseus" great ideas. All the kings are now trying to get back home to their families. Odysseus, however, will have the most problems.

The first place Odysseus goes after the war is the land of the Ciconians. He and his men raid the island and destroy the village. However the next day, more Ciconians arrive and defeat Odysseus and his men. Several men are killed, and Odysseus experiences his first of many sorrows and tribulations. Next, the hero goes to the land of the lotus-eaters. Some of his men eat the lotus plant and instantly want to stay there and never leave. Odysseus manages to get his men away from the island, and they leave.

Then the hero arrives at the home of Polyphemos. Polyphemos is a huge cyclops and also a cannibal. Odysseus and twelve of his men are trapped inside Polyphemos" cave and can"t get out. Polyphemos comes back and eats some of the hero"s men. The next night Odysseus gets the cyclops drunk on wine, and when it falls asleep, Odysseus and his remaining men blind it with a large pole. He and his men barely escape with their lives and continue on the voyage.

The hero soon lands on Aeolus" island. (Aeolus is the Keeper of the Winds.) He helps Odysseus on his way by giving him the right winds to take him home to Ithaca. The hero gets within site of his home but a hurricane blows him all the way back to Aeolus" island. This time Aeolus turns Odysseus away, and he is forced to continue his journey. The hero and his men next end up in the Land of the Midnight Sun, where the Laestrygonians live. The Laesrtygonians attack the men and sink eleven of the twelve ships. Only Odysseus" ship and forty-four men escape to safety. This is one of the most painful tribulations Odysseus faces on his journey.

Soon afterwards, Odysseus and his now small crew arrive on Circe"s island. Circe transforms some of the hero"s crew into pigs; however, Odysseus overcomes the witch and she turns the men back to normal. Odysseus stays with Circe for a year, but soon his men get restless and decide to leave. The hero has to go to the Underworld to talk to the blind prophet, Tiresias. He completes this task and finds out how to live a long and happy life before setting out again.

Odysseus overcomes the Sirens, Scylla, and Charybis before landing on the island of the sun god. There the men kill the sun god"s cattle and have a feast; Odysseus, however, knows better and does not participate. The crew sets sail for home once more, but the ship wrecks and all the men are killed except Odysseus. The hero finally washes up on the shore of Ogygia. This section of the story is where Odysseus faces his last tribulation with his crew and, as you see, ultimately loses them.

The hero spends seven long years being held captive by Calypso before she finally lets him go. When he leaves, he is caught up by another storm and wrecks on the island of Scheria. There he meets the Phaeacian people and they help him get home. Although Odysseus is finally home, he still has many tribulations to come.

All the time Odysseus has been gone, his wife, Penelope, has been constantly pestered by 108 suitors who want to marry her. The suitors believe Odysseus is dead and will not accept "no" for an answer. When Odysseus arrives on his island, Athena meets him and disguises him as a beggar. Dressed as a beggar, the hero visits his swineherd and then goes to his palace. He analyzes the situation and learns about the suitors and discovers which of his servants are still faithful to him. All of this leads up to Odysseus" most important tribulation, killing the suitors. Then one day, with the help of Telemachos, Eumais, and Philochtes, Odysseus manages to defeat all the suitors. He also kills twelve unfaithful maids by hanging them. Now that this final trial has been completed, Odysseus reunites with his wife and his father and the epic comes to a close.

As you can see this story contained many tribulations, some big, some small, some important, and some minor. The fact that Odysseus survived all these obstacles proves that he is a great hero and that is part of what makes this book so good.


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