Homer’s “Odyssey”


Seldom would one come across a classic that does not allude to Greek mythology, that inevitably makes Homer a must read. Ideally I should have read Illiad followed by Odyssey, but I read in reverse sequence as I discovered Odyssey in the unread book treasury of my personal library.

Odyssey trails the return of Odysseus to his hometown Ithaca after 20 arduous years that included the Trojan War, battling Cyclops (one-eyed giants), Ceres (witch) and encountering Calypso and Phoenecians etc. In the 20 years hiatus, strangely, his child Telemachus has attained masculinity but his wife Penelope remains beautiful enough to attract 108 suitors who mainly add to the drama as Odysseus is forced to disguise himself and slain them on reaching his home country and his union with his wife and father is delayed.

I am besotted with the concept of co-existence of mortals and immortals and how each and every step of a mortal is controlled by an immortal mainly the justice of Zeus, the wrath of Poseidon and mentor-ship of Athene. Greeks’ forte at exaggeration and story telling also becomes evident as every (major) character in the story tells his life story to each new character he meets, irrespective of repetition and each attribute of the character is magnified to no end. The adjectives are also repetitively used- Dawn is always “fresh and rosy-fingered”, death is “black”, Athene is “starry eyed” and so on.  Also the myths are intertwined and new stories are interwoven like Ares and Aphrodite who have no relation to the characters in any manner.

Of course, the historical accuracy of both Illiad (15,000 lines) and Odyssey (12,000 lines), discovered in the form of inscriptions on the clay tablet in the Linear B script during the Bronze Age, is highly debated. It is also debated whether Homer was a single person or a class of bards who recited the poems. Some believe he was a blind minstrel who penned down the oral poems passed on over ages. But historically accurate or not, the epic poems are a brilliant read and  some myths have an eerie familiarity with many of the Hindu myths . Deja Vu!!

Interesting Trivia: Greece used the Linear B script in 8th century BC but was then illiterate for the next 400 years.

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A dreamer. An intellectual, spoiled by the world of literature trying to find sanity through traveling and expression through Visual Art and writing! Hope you like my expressions on this blog!!

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2 comments on “Homer’s “Odyssey”
  1. Pankaj says:

    Very nice review :). Indeed a must read for someone who likes literature. I remember our English professor teaching Ulysses during graduation, and the specific lines “I will drink Life to the lees”. Ive always associated the story with that.

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