The Tortoise is the Heir or is it?
Overcoming obstacles within a world filled with omnipotent forces lets Odysseus lay down a blueprint, a map made real by Homer, to show man the true nature of reality. Coming home from the war begs to bring on a series of different types of challenges to a hero. These challenges lead to a set of understandings that allow him to return, fruitful beyond all measure form the epic adventure. Odysseus is blessed; he’s got an angle looking over his shoulder, a son worthy of his Kingdome who holds ties to the Gods in the same fashion as his father, and a wife, beautiful Penelope, who remains loyal to her man to the end. The Journey to the ends of the world and back is no different now then it was in the Homeric area, in fact we have a whole new sea of the same problems to undertake, to return home as a people, to the understandings that Odysseus was so appropriately set to comprehend. Homer had it all in his texts from Gods to Hero’s, it was put there for us to understand and follow, like Telemachus son of Odysseus, to portray to us how our relationship to everything is inherent, we just have to keep on our toes and learn to listen and adapt.
Odysseus learns how to conquer his humanity and obey his destiny throughout The Odyssey, that’s why we’re still reading Homers Epic poem today. The Trials and tribulations of the hero Odysseus with Goddesses like Kalypso, villainous and crude monstrous Gods like Kyklops, or even the suitors that try nesting in his castle, are in all ways prime examples of how he overcame adversity without betraying the Gods, his family and his people. Odysseus is a modern day visionary, his goal is his home, Ithaka, and he’ll take on anything in his way to make it back to his Penelope.
Kalypso’s island seems to be where Odysseus awakens from a seven-year vacation of sloth like proportions. The Goddess Kalypso is canceling him from the Gods, preventing him from perusing the life of a Hero. He has it all here with her, everything but his wife and family. Odysseus long’s for home, even after Kalypso threatens him with what he’ll encounter “Son of Laretes, versatile Odysseus, after these years with me, you still desire your old home? Even so, I wish you well. If you could see it all before you go-- all the adversity you face at sea--- you would stay here and guard this house, and be immortal.” (87 Homer). David E Belmont compares Kalypso to the Lotus eaters “extreme sensuality of every sort has the power to turn men into animals, to rob them of identity even more terribly then the honey –sweet idleness of Lotus-eaters.”(Belmont 52) Temptation of this sort can be found in today’s societies, Kalypso’s a cougar sent from hell, she’s hot and she’s got her own island. But Odysseus can see past her, Daniel an Elizabethan poet writes “To spend time luxuriously Becomes not men of worth.”(Homer87) Odysseus is a mans man, forever, all men need to awaken from a Kalypso like slumber every once in a while and thanks to our hero we know it can happens.
The Kyklops presents the hero with a whole new ball of tricks he has to deal with on his trip. Odysseus. The one eyed son of Poseidon is a beast. He has everything Odysseus would ever need, baskets of cheese, and buckets of milk, enough meat to feed a fleet. The island is naturally prosperous, and the thought of seeing a monster compels the Captain to go and explore the land. Odysseus is compelled to overcome any fear at this point. He acts like a teenager, he fly’s off to an unknown island, thinking he’s invincible, with a bag of some killer wine. Hospitality is something that’s taken for granted, by this ambitious Odysseus. He’s following his heart, and he trusts in the Gods. After breaking and entering into the cave of the ruthless one eyes brute, he say’s “custom is to honor strangers. We would entreat you great Sir, have care for the gods’courtesy; Zeus will avenge the unoffending guest.’”(153.Fitzgerald) He’s pushing his luck when he acts like he owns the place throwing Zeus’s name around. Ksyklop’s father is Poseidon, he say’s “We Kyklops care not a whistle for your thundering Zeus or all the gods in bliss; we have more force by far. I would not let you go for fear of Zeus--- you or your friends---unless I had a whim to.”(153 Homer) The Monster is in fact as arrogant as Odysseus, disrespecting the gods is an offense neither should do. Telemos, the Kyklops knowingly talks down to Odysseus about Zeus, whereas Odysseus has no idea the monster belongs to the Poseidon family until the monster proclaims “Come back, Odysseys, and I’ll treat you well, praying the god of earthquacke to befriend you--- his son I am, for he by his avowal fathered me, and, if he will, he may heal me of this black wound---“(160Homer). Odysseus has to change and adapt to a world that seems to have rules of its own, even though he knows where he’s going.
In book XII Odysseus and his crew are sent through a series of obstacles that they won’t make it through as a unite, but they do make it past the first landmark unscathed. Kirke warns Odysseus about the sirens, “Listen with care to this, now, and a god will arm your mind. Square in your ship’s path are Seirenes, crying beauty to bewitch men coasting by;” (210 Homer) They sing a song that promises knowledge of a shallow nature, Belmont insist that
“Coupled with the novelty and the charm of music, i.e. culture, three is the danger, as with Faust, of seeking too much knowledge---more than is in a human being’s power to possess safely---and seeking it, moreover, from others, at the expense of living life oneself, of experiencing firsthand. Secondhand knowledge---from Sirens or books—can never replace the world of life and reality.”(Belmont54)
Even though Odysseus know because of kirke, that the true nature of the song is bass, he still struggles to come together with the two temptress’s. Homer’s explaining to us so of the fundamental problems that all individuals in the post war world will have to run into. He explains that it’s as easy as stuffing your ears with wax to avoid the charm, and focus on your goals.
Leaving the island where he spent seven years after battling in the Trojan war and loosing his crew, Odysseus makes it back to Ithaka, his home ready to take on more obstacles in a world filled with turmoil. His Oikos is under siege, Telemekhos his son is furious and ready to get revenge, but Odysseus goes about slaughtering a house full of intruders in the most patient and cunning way. Pura Nieto Hernandez say’s “Odysseus, who combines himself various Apollinine traits and shars with his guardian deity Athena flexibility, and adaptability, and the crafty intelligence called metis” (Pura332) The whole journey, not just the return trip work to give Odysseus a view of reality. He’s surrounded with pigs in his own home. The best part is that he gives them an opportunity to save themselves by presenting himself as a beggar. He comes into his home looking like a homeless man asking for a meal. The suitor s immediately denounces him. But he manages to stay in the home. Athena helps him stay in disguise long enough for Penelope to realize that she needs to do something. She comes up with the contest to sting the bow. Ross writes “Zeus thunders his approval, Odysseus picks up an arrow, sends it clean through the socket rings of the twelve axes, and now all perplexities cast asked, the poem stands in the clear light of battle. “ (lvi Ross) Odysseus overcoming all the obstacles the gods willed him to understand becomes re ready to be assimilated into his culture, to become king of Ithaka.
The battles presented throughout the journey lead toward the understanding of peace. Laurel Fulkerson say’s that “the suitors, serve as scapegoats for anything improper that was done in Ithaka while Odysseus was away.”(Homer347) What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas and that’s that. What was done in the past is clearly what was done in the past; all the skeletons in the closet are out of Penelope’s and Odysseus’s life with the murdering of the mock suitors and enemy housekeepers. Now come’s the tranquility of their reunion and the reflection of their love for one another. Both characters look beyond what they did apart, and create a home with each other.
Change and how to grow within it was Homers intent when writing out Odysseus’s journey. Overcoming the loses undertaken at Troy and learning to work with a post war reality on an epic voyage back home molds the hero into something new, something that re integrates itself with honor back into the old system but in the modern day. Odysseus knows how to act in the world of chaos, he believes in his understanding of the Gods and what they want from him. He uses the knowledge acquired from them through his journey to represent himself in the most honorable and upstanding way. Even after murdering a room full of men, he is accepted as the king of Ithaka. He is accepted because he reflects the most appropriate behaviors, unlike the suitor. Odysseus is a modern day explorer, set out to define the true and absolute character of humanity.