Classic literature often provides insight to an ancient society, their values, and their beliefs. Many books that are considered classics today focus on ancient Rome and Greece. Revenge, hubris, and other themes, and the relation of this book to modern life, classifies the poem The Odyssey by Homer, translated by Fitzgerald, as a classic. For this reason, it is still read today. Classic themes of The Odyssey are a reason that it is a timeless tale. The concept of revenge is often shown throughout Odysseus’ journey.
The reason Odysseus kills the suitors is to avenge their plunder of his abode. Odysseus kills Antinoos first since he was the leader of the suitors. Not only do mortals believe in revenge, the gods do too. They encourage Odysseus to take revenge, and Zeus even sends a thunderbolt down to signal the right time for Odysseus to strike. Another theme in the Odyssey is hubris. In most classic, the hero or protagonist demonstrates this quality. This was followed up on in The Odyssey, where Odysseus was the character who demonstrated hubris the most.
After he blinded Polyphemos and successfully escaped, he screamed out his name to the monster, who did not know his real identity previous to this. This was a mistake caused by his excessive pride, because he wanted the Cyclops to know that he, Odysseus, was powerful enough to blind the son of Poseidon. Polyphemos then prayed to his father that Odysseus would have a long and difficult journey, which of course Poseidon honored. Lastly, the use of the loom in The Odyssey helps to make the poem a timeless classic.
The loom is used multiple times by women throughout the story. It often demonstrates hearth and home. Penelope uses it to trick the suitors. She says that she must complete the shroud of Laertes before she chooses a new suitor. This makes the suitors respect Penelope since it displayed her kindness and honor. In reality, Penelope was really avoiding marriage by unweaving the shroud every night. Kirke also used the loom to lure Odysseus’ crew into her house and make it appeal to them. This constant use of the loom is a motif.
The use of motifs makes a piece of literature a classic because they create a sense of continuity and security, and they get the reader to react. The themes of revenge and hubris, and the use of motifs allow The Odyssey to be a timeless classic. The relation of The Odyssey to modern life accounts for its continued appeal. The story of Odysseus’ journey can in many ways relate to the typical life of humans today. The story is life, but mythologized. For example, missing a loved one is something that often occurs today.
In The Odyssey, Odysseus’ mother dies because she misses her son too much. Her story is told while Odysseus sees her in Hades. Second, individuals intervene in the matters of others. Other people provide their input of a problem today, while in the epic poem it was the gods. This intervening of the gods was a large part of the story. For example, if it wasn’t for Athena “erasing” the memories of the suitor’s deaths to their families, then the families would have attempted to assassinate Telemakhos and his father.
Also, Odysseus’ journey would have been incredibly shorter if it weren’t for Poseidon intervening after Polyphemos prayed to him to make Odysseus’ journey longer. One of The Odyssey’s universal qualities is the relation of it to life today. Themes such as revenge, hubris, motifs, and reader-to-text connections are examples of universal qualities included in the poem The Odyssey by Homer, translated by Fitzgerald. These qualities classify this poem as a classic. 3000 years after it was published, it is still thriving. One of the oldest works of literature is still considered a timeless piece of literature today.
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