The Odyssey Questions and Answers
1. Analyze and provide as many examples as you can of the three major values of the Odyssey.
The culture of the ancient Greeks is very remarkable. In the poem “Odyssey” Homer clearly defines three values that were very important for ancient Greeks: intellect, beauty, and hospitality. Speaking about beauty, it is impossible not to notice that in every ancient myth it plays a very important role. Every hero must be beautiful, this is the rule of ancient mythology. Ancient Greeks found beauty in everything and everyone; it seems that they could not find anything ugly in human body. Even the most unattractive God, Hefest is also an example of masculine beauty. It was necessary to be beautiful and everybody was beautiful in myths. The beauty of humans and the god’s bodies’ are carefully described. The second value is intellect. It is perfectly seen in the example of Odyssey, who is very shrewd and clever. The second example is nymph Calypso who is also very clever. In Greek myths, intellect was very important for every god and human. The combination of beauty and intellect formed an ideal man: “the world is full of wonders, but nothing is more wonderful than man” (Sophocles). This phrase perfectly explains the attitude of ancient Greeks towards mankind. Thus, it is not surprising that Greeks gods were very much like humans, they had the same bodies, feelings, inspirations. Hospitality can be seen through the whole poem: we just have to recollect the hospitality when Telemakhos visited Menelaos or the one Odysseus was provided throughout the poem. Greeks were very hospitable: they were always ready to provide strangers with food and bed.
2. Analyze the role of the Gods in the Odyssey.
The gods in “Odyssey” differ much from the gods in “Iliad that is explained by the changes in understanding human characters in “Odyssey” and at the same time by the social background of the latter. The people in “Odyssey” are strong, powerful, self-assured, energetic an initiative. All the gods except, Athena who is the protectress of Odysseus is far from people and have their own life maintaining the order and justice from afar. In the first poems of Iliad, the hero Achilles was great in his insistence and then it appeared that it led his own death and the death of many people. The main hero of “Odyssey” is quite different. He is great because of his resourcefulness he applies to save himself and his friends. He is the master of his own destiny and the gods can’t rule his life. The role of gods in the poem “Odyssey” is not so important as in “Iliad”. The relations between Olympic gods, which define the human’s destiny in “Iliad” play a secondary role in “Odyssey”. Here we see the power of a man, his beauty and his reason, which can be used to resolve the problems.
3. Analyze the main idea of Oedipus using the drama terms and ideas of Aristotle’s Poetics.
Aristotle provides his own definition of tragedy that has been used until now: “tragedy, then, is an imitation of an action that is serious, complete, and of a certain magnitude; in language embellished with each kind of artistic ornament, the several kinds being found in separate parts of the play; in the form of action, not of narrative; with incidents arousing pity and fear, wherewith to accomplish its catharsis of such emotions. . . . Every Tragedy, therefore, must have six parts, which parts determine its quality—namely, Plot, Characters, Diction, Thought, Spectacle, Melody” (Poetics). The tragedy “Oepidus” perfectly matches Aristotle’s criteria. The readers can easily trace the beginning, the middle and the end of creation: the birth of the king and his youth; his rule; the self-damnation and expulsion. The plot here is not simple, but complicated: Oedipus turns out into the murderer of his own father and finds out who his parents are. Other elements that are necessary for tragedy also present: characters, thinking, music composition, stage composition. The main character Oedipus does not have outstanding virtues and appears in trouble by mistake, thus it is possible to state that he is an ideal character of the tragedy according to Aristotle. The characters of tragedy are noble, they all want to sacrifice something for noble deeds. The tragedy is rich of many literary devices: metaphors, hyperboles, epithets. Thus, the tragedy of Sophocles is the perfect example of ancient drama.
Aristotle, “Poetics”. Translation by S. H. Butcher. Web February 28, 2014
Bowra, C. M., Classical Greece, New York: Time Inc., 1965, p. 18.