The Hero's Journey of the Odyssey Essay

Submitted By Charlesdeng
Words: 1570
Pages: 7

Charles Deng
Ms. Gibson
English 1/2 H p5
16 December 2013 Odysseus’ Clock
Heroes are everywhere... such can be the Americans who fight over seas, the leaders who defend our human rights, the civilians who save the unfortunate, the people who feed us and shelter us from the cold and unknown, and the souls that lie within every one of us. We do not realize this because the definition of a hero is ambiguous. According to Merriam Webster Dictionary, a hero is a mythological or legendary figure often of divine descent endowed with great strength or ability. This is the definition of the hero that obscures the images of heroes, and instead, puts a picture of Superman in our minds. Now here is a counter definition of the word “hero,” right above the first definition: a person who is admired for great or brave acts or fine qualities. With this particular definition that emits open-mindedness and appreciation, the dimensions of a hero have expanded unlimitedly. Now since so many heroes may exist in the past, present, and even the future, analyzing their ways is burdensome. Heroes come and go too quickly for people to look into their journeys and learn from them. And that is a reason why monomyths, or the hero’s journey exists. These myths are recorded, so these heroes will stay put, allowing the readers or the listeners to get an insight on heroes. Heroes exist in different times and spaces, but they are similar in many ways. Joseph Campbell, an American mythologist, is an expert in this field and has analyzed thousands of heroic stories. From him the definition of hero is not the former or the latter; it is an eternal definition, stretched and modified for centuries. One monomyth, which had been orally passed down and then finally recorded and which allowed people to understand the epic hero’s characteristics and journey was ODYSSEY. Homer’s ODYSSEY, translated by Stanley Lombardo, is an ancient Greek epic poem about a Greek hero Odysseus who undertakes a long journey to return home. While returning home, he faces various obstacles. Once Odysseus returns home, he kills the suitors who court his wife Penelope, and then reclaims his throne as king of Ithaca. As the model for the epic of the long journey, Odysseus’ journey is a clock showered with extended similes, in which time is running out and action needs to be taken; during this time Odysseus’ struggles and eventual successes mold and define his heroic characteristics of aretes, metis, and ambitiousness.
In the Homeric sense and in the more general sense described by Campbell Odysseus’ journey is a clock interspersed with Homeric similes that are used to allow the audience understand the story’s events. Odysseus’s ordinary world starts off on Calypso’s island, and his call of adventure starts with Zeus’ request to release Odysseus, which leads to his departure; throughout the dangerous journey he gains valuable assistance from Athena who aids him in reclaiming his throne. The need for assistance for the upcoming future of trials and pains is clearly depicted through Calypso’s advice to Odysseus that “But if you had any idea of all the pain/You’re destined to suffer before getting home,/You’d stay here with me, deathless”(5.205-208). As Calypso warns Odysseus of his future, he has to wonder if he actually wants to leave her island of paradise in order to face the most excruciating of all trials. Right after leaving the island but before arriving on the island of Phaeacia, Odysseus faces his trials against his godly enemy, Poseidon, at sea. Using the other gods as foils, Poseidon’s hatred toward Odysseus is emphasized to the point that “All the gods pitied [Odysseus], except Poseidon,/Who stormed against the godlike hero/Until he finally he reached his own native land”(1.25-28). To get revenge for blinding is son, Poseidon constantly tortures Odysseus, especially by wrecking his ship. Fortunately, although Poseidon’s is a great enemy, Odysseus survives with Athena’s