Heroic Cycle Through Reading The Odyssey
"To educate a man in mind and not in morals is to educate a menace to society"
In the beginning, the scene was mysteriously set on Olympus. The introduction painted an image in my mind like that of when a plane would fly just above the ocean, speeding from location to location rather quickly to bring me to the main event. Pallas Athena, in all her glory, was attempting to convince her father, Zeus, the king of the gods, to allow Odysseus who had struggled long and hard to return home to Ithaca. It made me feel a sense of wonder for the skill that ancient bards such as Homer had for creating such amazing imagery in my mind. To me, the book started off a little dull, it certainly accomplished the setup, but I wasn't pulled into the story beyond the beginning title sequence. In the second and third chapters however, I began to feel a bond form with Telemachus as I could relate more and more to him. By the time that Odysseus had come along, and he had begun to tell his story I was thoroughly enjoying the book, and had set out on my reading adventure. I was prepared to read the Odyssey.
The mentor phase of the journey, for me, was when I first met Odysseus. It seemed at first as though I was being taken away from my good friend Telemachus, but soon I began to like Odysseus. When reading about him, it made the daunting task of reading such a long book seem much easier. I felt my anxiety melting away. I was prepared to take on the full length of the book.
The trials for Odysseus as well as for me arrived when Odysseus began telling his story. While at times the story was exciting, some of it I felt was painstakingly dull. It seemed at some points that he was just droning on and on, adding unnecessary detail. During these rambles I could imagine being in an ancient hall, maybe the palace in Ithaca, hearing a bard tell stories of Odysseus while eating a delicious meal. I persevered through these chapters and went on to the climax of the story.
Some time later, Odysseus was finally home at last! Home on the Island of Ithaca. It was not through intelligence or being the biggest or the strongest or the best at everything he had gotten home. It was through perseverance and through his craftiness. He didn't always outthink his opponent, but he deceived him so that he could continue on his journey. I find that the first moral of the Odyssey is that nothing but sheer cunning will bring us through our toughest trials.
Upon arrival back in Ithaca, Odysseus was taken in by the loyal swineherd and the second moral of the story was learned here. Odysseus, despite desperately wishing that he could tell the swineherd who he was, and rejoice with him again, must bide his time so that he is not killed by the suitors. Odysseus shows patience and because of this he is saved. If he had not shown patience the suitors would have simply killed him and there would be no tale of Odysseus. Instead of rushing, Odysseus fought the urge to go to the castle and announce the return of the king and instead gauged their numbers and then, when presented with the opportunity, he attacked. The second moral is to have patience.
The final moral that was taught to us was to have Xenia and to help whoever crosses our path for we do not know when they will be able to turn and help us. Had the suitors possessed Xenia, and been hospitable to Odysseus when he arrived at their door they might not have perished in the bloodbath. Instead of being nice and hospitable, they shamed Odysseus. I know that coming into any place a stranger, and not knowing anyone is always tough, but having others shame instead of respect you would make for a terrible experience. Next year I will probably be at a new high school and I know I would feel shamed and terrible if I was laughed at on my first day. Even if I was welcomed with open arms I would still feel a bit nervous.
After fighting through the climax in the book, I feel I have gathered three seeds of lessons that I will use to plant my "Odyssey Orchard" as Fitz says. The Odyssey has reinforced my believe in using my wits to think through a situation, to have patience and to always be hospitable wherever I can be welcoming. The next time I read The Odyssey I am sure I will find many different lessons within the book, but for this time these are the three main morals. I will strive to be cunning, patient, and kind in all situations where I am granted the opportunity to be.