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The power of Odysseus: Achieved or Received?
Throughout The Odyssey, Odysseus’ gained authority due to the aid and power of others, which resulted in three phases of understanding: self-determination, courage, and having a greater vision in life. In order to understand these three phases, one must be able to conquer predominance from those who are less useful than others. While being physically strong, he lacked mental strength without the guidance of the gods. Odysseus was a loner, but once meeting up with others he became popular. Once he makes these friends he learns more about the subjects of daily life. They are the ones who have more predominance than others because they know more people and are more intriguing. Odysseus needed and used the help of others to gain more knowledge throughout the story.
Once Odysseus has served enough time in a place against his will, he would be determined to leave that place. Odysseus’ journey towards home was now going to have the chance to come to and end. For seven years, Calypso held him prisoner on the island of Ogygia where he wanted to leave to seek the completion of his journey. Calypso agrees to let him go but first offers Odysseus some advice and guidance saying, “Only I will not aid [you] on [your] way, for I have no ships fitted with oars, nor crews to bear [you] over the broad ocean ridges; but I will freely give [you] counsel and not hide how [you] may come unharmed to [your] own native land”(Bloom, 47). Calypso realizes the greatness of Odysseus and gives him some advice. Odysseus though will have to prove his greatness by making his own ship and understand how he will make it home.
Even though Odysseus was physically strong, at other points his weaknesses were evident. When the Phaeacians returned Odysseus home, he couldn’t figure out where he was. For some reason, he decided to recount his jewels and gifts. While doing so the Phaeacians were turned to stone by Poseidon for helping him return home. Odysseus can do almost everything a god can do but the help of the gods to do so. Therefore, Odysseus says to Athena, “And do you stand beside me, inspiring hardy courage, even so as when we tore the shining crown from Troy”(130). When Odysseus was at war with Troy, Athena gave him guidance. Now, Odysseus once again asks for guidance and help because he cannot accomplish the feat single-handed. Odysseus, not realizing that Athena has helped him the whole time, asks for guidance because he cannot slaughter the suitors without a disguise and a plan.
Once Odysseus hears about something ill fated, he would be determined to change this. As a hawk anticipates catching his prey; so was Odysseus about taking revenge. When Telemachus was with Helen and Menelaus he received the sign of the eagle. On Telemachus’ right an eagle flew and Helen rightly says, “As the eagle caught the goose, -she, fattened in the house; he, coming from the hills where he was born and bred, -so shall Odysseus, through many woes and wanderings, come home and take revenge. Even now, perhaps, he is at home, sowing the seed of ill for all the suitors”(145). Helen, Menelaus’ wife, predicts that Odysseus has returned home. The symbol of the eagle with the goose in his claws symbolizes what Odysseus is going to do to all of the suitors. The eagle is coming from the mountains and is attempting to kill something. This is ironic because Odysseus who is coming from different lands was trying to figure out a plan to kill the suitors.
Odysseus, determined and head strong, displays an immense amount of courage. Even though Hades is the land of the dead, Odysseus has expectations that he can be guided. Odysseus has always been guided under the sunlight and was courageous in knowing that he might be guided in the darkness. This is significant because Hades was not in sunlight but rather in darkness, which left the sunlight as Odysseus’ only guide, while looking for aid. Hades holds the spirits of the dead and Circe, a sorcerer goddess. Circe once told Odysseus to go and talk to the dead using a special potion of hers. So Odysseus does what Circe says and talks to Tiresias, a prophet, who predicts what his future might be. As Tiresias is predicting Odysseus’ future he says, “At home you shall find trouble, -bold men devouring your living, wooing your matchless wife, and offering bridal gifts. Nevertheless, on your return, you surely shall avenge their crimes”(104). This shows that Odysseus can be guided both in!
sunlight and in darkness. He was able to talk to everyone that he knew and he found out about what he was missing out on. This is when he decided he would take revenge on everyone who is disloyal to his family.
Numerous times Odysseus was determined to choose the harder path, even though he was sometimes guided in a different direction. When Odysseus and crew were at the house of Circe, she told him what dangers lied ahead on his journey. She told him that there were two paths to take, each with its own difficulties and consequences. When Odysseus said that he might take the harder one, Circe said “Foolhardy man! Still bent on war and struggle! Will you not yield eve.............
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