Comparing Homer's The Odyssey And Paulette Jiles News Of The World

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Shared Values Between Two Books

Ideas are immortal. There is no greater evidence for this than the repetition of values in works that were written eras apart. In Robert Fitzgerald's translation of Homer's The Odyssey and Paulette Jiles' News of the World several values are shared, including humility, a recognition of the power and responsibility of the spoken word, and an admiration of loyalty. Each work represents the values differently, and the works outdo each other in some of the respective values, but the ideas outlined in each book can be simplified to timeless shared concepts.

Throughout time, excessive pride has been seen as a main factor behind the downfall of characters. The Odyssey and News of the World are no strangers to this.
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When Odysseus returns to his palace, transformed by grey-eyed Athena into a beggar, a tramp named Iros starts a fight with him. Iros thinks "with two punches [he would] knock [Odysseus] snoring" because Odysseus is a "grandfather" (Fitzgerald 336, 335). Iros is, however, shocked by the abilities of the man he had underestimated. Upon seeing Odysseus' "hurdler's thighs and boxer's breadth of shoulder, … poor Iros felt a new fit of shaking take his knees" (Fitzgerald 337, 338). Odysseus then "hook[s] him under the ear and shatter[s] his jaw bone." This pattern of the prideful character underestimating another person with outstanding ability, who in turn humiliates them, is one seen throughout the Odyssey. While Odysseus is in Phaiakia, a land ruled by Arete and Alkinoos, the proud Seareach challenges him to a discus-throwing competition. Seareach tells Odysseus, "… as I see it, friend, you never learned a sport, and have no skill in any of the contests of fighting men … you must have been the skipper of some tramp" (Fitzgerald 129). This angers Odysseus, who "frown[s], and eye[s] him coldly" (Fitzgerald 130). Odysseus then "leap[s] out, cloaked as he was, and pick[s] a discus, a rounded stone, more ponderous than …show more content…
The act of speaking is a strong theme of both The Odyssey and News of the World, one that comes with equal parts power and responsibility. The very pages themselves of The Odyssey drip with this value; the Odyssey was first performed orally, likely in a dining hall. Since Homer is a performer, it is in his best interests to make speaking and performing tasks of utmost importance. Throughout the book Odysseus is described as a tough, cunning soldier, "master of land ways and sea ways" (Fitzgerald 462). In Ancient Greek warrior society, ideals of masculinity and its expected lack of emotion are stronger than ever. But as "the minstrel stir[s] … clear words and notes … Odysseus let[s] the bright molten tears run down his cheeks" (Fitzgerald 140). The great Odysseus is brought to tears not by spears or threats, but by words. The tears Odysseus sheds because of the poet also help to advance the plot, and give Alkinoos reason to ask "the name [Odysseus] bore, … his native land" (Fitzgerald 141). The stories Odysseus tell bring the Phaiakians to send him home to Ithaka with gifts. Aside from how the spoken word can lead to the survival of characters, Homer describes how spoken words can lead to the downfall of characters. After the suitors are killed in Odysseus' palace, Eupeithes, with "his appeal, his tears" convinces the suitors' parents to join his "mad foray" which leads to his