Due Date: 9/31/13 Period 3
The Heroic Quest Newsletter
The Odyssey opens in the country of Greece nine years after the Trojan War ended. Because of Odysseus' absence, several suitors want to marry his wife, Queen Penelope. However, she believes that her husband will return, so she does not want to marry. Odysseus' son, Telemachus, also believes that his father is still out there alive. Meanwhile, Odysseus is trapped on Calypso’s island without any transportation, and without a crew. After receiving a message from Zeus, Calypso agreed to help Odysseus get home by helping him build a raft. After the raft is completed, Odysseus starts to sail on his raft and look for land. After his shaky journey, the land he arrived at was the island of Scheria, land of the Phaecians. The princess of the island finds him the next day and leads him to the castle of the King and Queen. Odysseus began to tell his story at dinner. He told them who he was, and what he and his crew did after the Trojan War. He told them of his experiences with the Cicones, the Cyclops, the Lotus Eaters, and with Circe. He told them of his journey to Hades, his encounter with the Sirens, and his deadly adventures with the terrors of Scylla and Charybdis. After telling his story, Odysseus is brought back to Ithaca, where he is reunited with his son. Now, together, he and his son must find a way to drive the suitors away from the palace and reunite himself with his wife.
The Myth Man’s Realization Joseph Campbell, AKA “the myth man”, is a writer and lecturer known for his study of mythology. The more mythology he studied, he realized that all myths serve the same purpose and contain the same elements. He called these similar myths “Monomyths”. He claimed that monomyths contained four defining characteristics. He said that all monomyths contain the supernatural, explain something about the personality of humans, explain a natural occurrence, and show that gods are in control of the universe. The common form of monomyth is the hero’s quest. The hero’s quest is the idea of a hero going on a journey, both physical and mental, and it has six elements that illustrate the common path that the stories take. The elements are the call to adventure, the threshold, challenges and temptations, confrontation or abyss, atonement, and finally, return.
The First Step The first step in the hero’s quest is the call to adventure. In the call to adventure, something first draws the hero out of his home. In the book, Black Ships Before Troy, the call to adventure is when King Menelaus called all of his Greek allies to go attack Troy because his wife was stolen by Paris. Because of this call to attack Troy, Odysseus is drawn out of his home, thus starting the journey. The other aspect of the call to adventure is that the hero rejects the call at first, but we do not see this here because fearless Odysseus does not hesitate to help his royal Greek comrades.
Unknown Territory The second step in the hero’s quest is the threshold. The threshold is when the hero crosses the fine line that separates the known world to the unknown world. A quote that symbolizes this from The Odyssey is this: “I want to find out what those men are like, wild savages with no sense of right or wrong or hospitable folk who fear the gods. (66)” This quote is said when Odysseus is curious about how the Cyclops are, and wants to wait at the cave for them. This quote presents the threshold because Odysseus and his crew are crossing into the unknown world when they step onto the Cyclops’ island. They do not know about them, and how they behave.
Proving His Worthiness Along the long journey, Odysseus faces numerous challenges and temptations, which is the third step of the heroic quest. Challenges and temptations are trials and tribulations that the hero must pass in order to prove his worthiness and to prepare him for future challenges.