The Odyssey, An Epic Poem Of Epic Proportions

842 words - 3 pages

Students might moan and groan when you hand them The Odyssey. “It’s so big; it’s so confusing”, they could say. But, if you look a little deeper, The Odyssey is a perfect example of epic poetry for the Greeks. To the Greeks, an epic hero has a massive significance. It symbolizes everything they look for in a leader and the qualities he/she should posses. Odysseus, being an epic hero, is an essential part of making The Odyssey an epic poem. To be considered an epic, the writing must contain an epic hero, use elevated language, show values of the culture, and other crucial elements that make up this style of writing. Universal themes, a hero of larger-than-life status, and prophetic actions make up The Odyssey, a classic epic poem written by Homer.

Universal themes are just one component that make The Odyssey an epic poem. Throughout The Odyssey, some clearly shown themes are, cunning over strength, loyalty, dangers of hubris and maturation of a journey. In this example, the theme cunning over strength is shown. A sacred part of Odysseus and Penelope’s marriage was their bed. Odysseus built it himself from the trunk of an olive tree and it is unable to be moved. Penelope says, “Make up his bed for him, Eurykleia./ Place it outside the bedchamber my lord/ built with his own hands.” (202-204). Odysseus is enraged and contradicts her by yelling out details about the bed only he would know. Penelope’s trick has ensured her that she has her husband back. Another prominent theme is the dangers of hubris.


if ever mortal man inquire

how you were put to shame and blinded, tell him

Odysseus, raider of cities, took your eye:

Laërtês’ son, whose home’s on Ithaka! (548-552).

Odysseus was so close to being free and safe. He was so close but, his hubris got the best of him, which, risked the lives of not only him, but his entire crew. Odysseus would have made it home so much quicker without the wrath of Poseidon following him. If he could have just kept his ego under control, he could have gotten his shipmates and himself free of danger. Odysseus has some faults along the way but, the examples of his heroic behavior will surely override that.

Next, there is the epic hero, such important piece of an epic poem. Without him or her there would be no action or adventure. “Are you flesh and blood, Odysseus, to endure/ more than a man can? Do you never tire?/ God, look at you, iron is what you’re made of.” (358-360). This shows...

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