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Odyssey By Homer

Odyssey By Homer

In Homer’s Odyssey, he uses the stories of Calypso and Circe to give a reader a
glimpse at Greek values. Odysseus is a “perfectly” moral man by Greek
standards. In the Calypso episode, Odysseus demonstrates the value of
faithfulness, and in the Circe episode, he illustrates Greek values in general.

While both goddesses seek Odysseus to be their husband, Odysseus responds as a
perfect Greek hero. During the Calypso episode, Homer teachers that one must
remain faithful in their hearts. The Circe episode shows the loyalty between a
commander and his troops, burial rights, hospitality, and the relationship
between host and guest. The Calypso episode explains how a man must be faithful
to his wife in his heart. The Calypso scene opens with a description of how
beautiful her island of meadows and flowers is and how “even a deathless god
who came upon that place would gaze in wonder, heart entranced with pleasure”
(154). The story proceeds to describe the goddess as having a “breathtaking
voice” (154) and being “lustrous” (155). Yet, when the story describes

Odysseus, he is “wrenching his heart with sobs and groans and anguish”
(156). Even though, Odysseus resides on a beautiful island with a goddess who
takes care of him, he still wishes to be at home. Odysseus recognizes that fact
that the island is beautiful, but he still longs to be at home. Additionally,

Odysseus remains faithful to Penelope, not by modern day standards, but he
chooses Penelope over the goddess. When Calypso questions Odysseus, he
recognizes that fact that Calypso is more beautiful. Odysseus even mentions that

Penelope “falls far short” (159) of Calypso, but yet, Odysseuss heart is
with Penelope. Next, Odysseus must build a raft himself. Yet, he finds this
labor minimal since he is given a chance to return home. He even realizes that
he may become shipwrecked or die on the voyage, but he is willing to take these
risks to return home. The final temping offer to make Odysseus turn away from
his home and his wife is when Calypso offers him immortality to stay with her.

Again, Odysseus chooses his land and his wife. In modern times, sleeping with a
goddess would be considered unfaithful, but Greek values allow this if and only
if the man still wishes to return home and return to his wife. Thus, one of the
highest values for a Greek was to be faithful to their home and their wives in
their hearts. The stories involving Circe describe several values. The stories
describe hospitality, the loyalty between a commander and his troops, the
relationship between host and guest, and burial rights. When the story begins
with an analysis on how guests ought to be treated. Circe is an enchantress who
welcomes some of Odysseuss troops into her home for food and drink. Then, she
made a potion that would clear their memories so that when she struck them with
her magic wand, they turned into pigs. Zeus or Hermes must have witnessed this
episode because Hermes came to Odysseus with a “potent drug” (239) that
would counteract Circes potion. Since Zeus is the god of hospitality, Circe
was in the wrong by harming her guests as she did. So, Odysseus went to Circe
with the drug, and when she attempted to do the same thing, Odysseus was able to
triumph over trickery. Thus, another important Greek value is to be kind to
strangers, treat them as guests, and follow the hospitality etiquette. The next
event demonstrates that the commander must be loyal to his troops. Circe offers

Odysseus marvelous food with “appetizers aplenty too, lavish with her
bounty” (242), but her refuses the food saying that “any man in his right
mind” (242) could not accept food “before hed freed his comrades-in-arms
and looked them in the eyes” (242). So, Greek soldiers must be loyal to each
other. This is further demonstrated when Circe sends for Odysseuss ship to
come closer to shore. Eurylochus hesitates and is mutinous against Odysseuss
order to bring the ship about. Odysseus, though, still remains loyal to him.

Even though he “had half a mind to draw the sharp sword from beside my hip and
slice his head off…But comrades check me, each man trying to calm me” (244).

This event offers another important value: the soldiers must be loyal to their
commander and heed every order. So, Homer demonstrates how troops and commanders
ought to be extremely loyal to each other. While the troops and Odysseus are at

Circes palace, they each respect each other as hostess and guest. Circe tries
to make them comfortable and joyful as she says, “no more tears now, calm
these tides of sorrow” (244). She hosts Odysseus and his troops for a year.

Odysseus graciously accepts Circes kindness and is good to her. When Odysseus
requests to leave, Circe grants him his desire, and she even helps him. Here,

Homer demonstrates that it is necessary to give the host warning when planning
to leave and even ask the host for leaving rights. Circe tells him to visit

Tiresias in the Kingdom of the Dead for advice on how to get home safely. Then,
on their final departing from Aeaea, Circe gives them food and drink to take on
their voyage as well as a swift wind. She gives them several gifts as expected
by a hostess when her guest leaves. Therefore, while host must be gracious and
giving to guests, the guests are expected to be respectful of their host.

Finally, Homer tells how the dead are to be given their rights. Before departing

Aeaea again, the troops must mourn the Elpenor, give him a funeral, and bury his
body. The fact that Odysseus and his troops returned all the way back to Aeaea
shows that the burial right of the dead is extremely important. Therefore, the

Greeks held the right of services and burial to be a significant value. Homer
portrays Odysseus as a nearly perfect man with nearly perfect Greek values.

Hence, the reader is able to get a glimpse of Greek values by using Odysseuss
decisions and action as a guideline. The Calypso story shows that Greek values
require a man to be faithful to his land and to his wife no matter what the
temptation is. The Circe episode shows the loyalty between a commander and his
troops, burial rights, hospitality, and the relationship between host and guest.

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