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Research Papers on Odysseus

Research papers on Odysseus can do a character sketch of Homer's famous hero or focus on any aspect of the Greek figure you need explained. The writers at Paper Masters know the themes, plot and meaning behind the Oddyssey and can explain a character such as Odysseus for any type of literature research needed.

Odysseus is the great thinker. He is constantly being refereed to as the resourceful Odysseus in Homer's, The Odyssey. Even at a time such as this when any normal man would simply collapse in exhaustion, Odysseus refuses to stop planning. He is constantly searching for the best and most clever way through each situation and challenging the universe with his solutions. This theme is most prominent in book thirteen when he is finally home. OdysseusInstead of running right up to his palace walls and proclaiming his arrival he begins to lie and weaves a web of secrets around himself in order to test those around him and see what kind of situation he is really in. Athena comes to him disguised and is the first one he lies to. After revealing herself to him she praises him in Book 5 line 298 when she says "since you are far the best of all mortal men for counsel and stories, and among all the divinities I am famous for wit and sharpness;".  Here Athena likens his skill to hers and thereby confirms a major theme in the story: Odysseus is second only to the gods in his craftiness and foresight and it is this gift more than any other that has allowed him to become the hero that he is.

Odysseus' Flaws

The hero is not without flaws. Note the following flaws in Odysseus:

  1. Odysseus in often nearsighted in his treatment of the gods.
  2. One could say that Odysseus abused the hospitable of the gods. 
  3. Odysseus didn't acknowledge the god's assistance in conquering Troy. 

In doing so he offended the gods.  The gods could provide food, the wind and a safe journey on the sea. The act of Ulysses when he boasted how great and wonderful he was to conquer Troy. Neptune and the other gods decided to punish him and show him how insignificant he really was in the scheme of things.  Odysseus completely ignored the fact that the gods had given him so much though continually defying them and doing things his own way.  In the end it worked out for him but his act of being a poor guest in the gods realm added years to his journey.

Odysseus and the Hero Journey

Yet Odysseus, like all epic heroes, must go through a journey of self-discovery. In the next few lines Odysseus makes his way for the woods by the water where he finds an olive bush intertwined with a shrub. It is under these bushes that Odysseus makes his refuge. The olive is important because it is a sacred symbol of Athena, the patron god of Odysseus. Therefore, when Odysseus saw the olive bush when he was washed up on shore or any other time in the epic he knew that he would be safe because Athena protected him. Upon crawling into the shrubs, Athena is immediately present and "shed sleep on his eyes".

In a similar scene that Homer describes later in Book nineteen, we see Odysseus's epiphany unfold in lines 439-443. "Neither could the force of wet blown winds penetrate here, nor could the shining sun ever strike through with his rays, nor yet could the rain pass all the way through, so close together it grew, with a fall of leaves drifted in dense profusion." The latter passage is referring to the lair of the great boar that scars Odysseus. At first the connection may not seem obvious. Odysseus first encountered that scene when he was a young man. The boar came out of the bush and gave him the scar which signaled the end of his innocence. No longer was Odysseus the young boy naive in the ways of the world. Odysseus had become a man. That scar signaled the end of his peaceful days and the imminent beginning of his conquest. With that scar Odysseus had become Odysseus the giver and bearer of pain, a conquest that would not end until the similar scene at the end of Book five.

When Odysseus finds the bush another change is about to take place. By entering into a bush strikingly similar to the one that the boar came out of all those years ago, Homer signals the end of his days of conquest and the imminent beginning of more peaceful days. From that point forward Odysseus hopeless situation begins to improve. He gains wealth, makes it home, and is eventually reunited with his family.

After 10 years of war, followed by 10 years of wandering, affliction, and distraction in perilous and semimagical surroundings, Odysseus arrives home only to find his wife, Penelope, besieged by suitors. Many of his enemies had tried, during his long absence, to convince his wife Penelope to marry one of them, who would then replace Odysseus as the king of Ithaca. Penelope never gave up hope that she would see her beloved husband again. When Odysseus arrived, he dressed as a beggar so his enemies could not recognize him. Odysseus killed the suitors of his wife with the help of his son Telemachus and a few loyal friends.  By juxtaposing the fantastic worlds of the wanderings with the real world of Ithaca, and by contrasting the despair and dissatisfaction of Odysseus while away from home with the joy and satisfaction he feels on returning, Homer focuses on what it is to be human and on the values and ideals that inform human existence.

Like any other passage in this epic, they are not the only themes apparent. Almost every word that Homer writes seems to intertwine with other themes. It is this richness of symbolism and depth of meaning that has enabled this work to outlive almost three millennia of change. Perhaps it is this change that has strengthened the value and meaning of the work. Perhaps that was Homer’s ultimate point: everything changes and nothing can remain the same. The Greeks believed strongly in metamorphosis and from Ovid’s writing on the subject to now, from Homer’s depiction of Odysseus to our very societal beliefs, everything has and will continue to change.

In ancient times such as the period in which The Odyssey is set, ritual was much more important than it is in modern times.  There were codes of conduct, of hospitality and how someone was to be treated under specific circumstances.  It was always important to act in accordance with those traditions.  In The Odyssey the gods held hospitality to be very important as well.  Sacrifices to the gods can be the difference between life and death or add years to a journey as shown in the nineteen year epic of Odysseus to finally get home to his wife.  His journey was lengthen because of angering one or another god.

Odysseus was cunning and revered for this ability. Homer in describing how much the Trojans were taken in by Odysseus's disguise says that 'they were speechless', i.e., Odysseus deceived them with his disguise as if they were speechless infants. Later on we will see that Odysseus makes a similar comment when he talks about his deception of Polyphemus. Odysseus's powers of deception almost rival those of his protectoress Athena and enable him to manipulate his victims as a god might beguile a mortal.

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