The Odyssey Essay

Submitted By ahawayek
Words: 832
Pages: 4

Egomania Humans are innately selfish beings. Many characters in Homer’s The Odyssey exemplify this perspective as they act upon selfish motives in order to better their social standing. These self-centered characters will lie, cheat, and steal in order to climb the social ladder. Because these characters are preoccupied with bettering their standing, they disregard their personal relationships and respect for one another is lost. In this way the rigid social class structure generates conflict within Ithaca. According to The Odyssey’s social ladder, men are subordinate to the gods and women are subordinate to men. The Odyssey has many problems that revolve around this social ladder. Homer uses these conflicts to demonstrate that he thinks people are generally selfish and blinded by their motives. This inability to see themselves for who they really are enables them to act cruelly with no regrets. In the epic, Homer paints the picture that humans are selfish in general. He speaks out through the goddess Athena, “It’s wrong Telemachus, wrong to rove so far, so long from home, leaving your own holdings unprotected--crowds in your palace so brazen they’ll carve up all your wealth, devour it all, and then your journey here will come to nothing”(Book 15, page 319, line 11). According to Athena, the suitors are stealing from Telemachus and destroying his kingdom. Unless he returns home all his wealth will “come to nothing.” This reveals Homer’s idea of people in general. He believes humans are mostly parasites that will latch on to a being and “devour” all the food and money they can. Antinous is one parasite who demonstrates this lack of good morals and the blindness of his self-image. Although he is aware Odysseus and Penelope are married, he is willing to sacrifice anything, even the lives of his fellow suitors, to have Penelope as his wife. He also proves his inability to see his character as he insults the beggar, “What a brazen, shameless beggar! Scrounging for food from each man in turn, and look at their handouts, reckless, never a qualm, no holding back, not when making free with the next man’s goods” (Book 17, Page 368, Line 496) It is ironic that Antinous screams and tries to demoralize the poor beggar (Odysseus in disguise), but what he says to the beggar is a great description of Antinous himself. Antinous’ craving for control shows his inability to see beyond his desires. When Antinous pursues Penelope for chasing Odysseus’ wife for his own advancement he proves his self-centered nature. In turn, women in The Odysseys like Penelope are held back without power because they are downgraded by their male superiors. In Homer’s epic men are warriors and mighty kings. Therefore they are central. In contrast to the men, women work at home. The relationship between Penelope and Odyssey is one model relationship for the difference between men and women in The Odyssey. Odysseus is off fighting wars while his wife Penelope is hung out to dry at home with all the suitors. While Odysseus is gone Penelope makes a deal with the suitors, she will weave a