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Odysseus Quest Essay

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Classical Literature and Mythology
Odysseus’ Quest
The well-known classical story of the “Odyssey,” written by Homer provides the intense
and significant character development of the main character Odysseus as he fights many battles
and attempts to return to his homeland. He is faced with many challenges and difficulties,
including temptation, grief, anger, loneliness, and bitterness. All of the endeavors and trials
Odysseus faced allowed him to grow his knowledge of self-identity and worth. This essay aims
to explain what the purpose of Odysseus’ quest was, what he learns from it including important
themes like loyalty and bravery, and what message Homer is implying in the story overall.
It is made clear that the quest Odysseus must embark on is very important. The
“Odyssey” presents the main character of Odysseus who is seen stranded and held captive on an
island by a goddess named Calypso. His role is to return home and defeat hundreds of soldiers
who are “competing to replace him as King of Ithica by marrying his wife, Penelope” (Harris
and Platzner 425). One of the purposes for Odysseus’ quest is for him to define his sense of self-
identity. Being completely mortal, Odysseus must come to terms with his mortality. One way in
which this is done is through his encounters with ghosts. Each ghost acts as a symbol of heroic
striving and helps Odysseus define what his self-worth and self-identity is (Harris and Platzner
434). It is made clear that Odysseus is very different compared to other Greek heroes since no
other Greek hero has had to go through such loneliness, experience terrifying supernatural
forces, and has ever developed a higher degree of self-reliance than Odysseus (Harris and
Platzner 440). Another purpose presented in the story of the “Odyssey” is the theme of loyalty.
Odysseus fulfilled loyalty by staying true to his wife by trying to reunite with her, despite his
trials. Loyalty was also exemplified by Penelope, Odysseus’ wife, as she cautiously waited for

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him for 20 years. Her loyalty to him and his loyalty to her and his origin land is what caused
them both to gain perseverance and wisdom throughout the “Odyssey.” It states in the “Odyssey”
what Penelope says to Odysseus upon his return that he is a mysterious man” and that she is
“not being proud or scornful, nor am I bewildered…my heart has been cold with fear that an
imposter would come and deceive me” (Homer 496-497). Their loyalty to each other in the end
is what saved their relationship as a whole.
Odysseus learns a few things while on his quest. One thing he learns to do is develop
stronger patience by delaying his return to home. “Odysseus learns that he must steel himself to
endure bitter enmity of the gods, a prolonged delay in his homecoming [and]…the loss of all his
companions” (Harris and Platzner 436). He also learns patience through his increased amount of
wisdom. When Odysseus is faced with a final test given by Circe, where he is to refrain from
eating sacred cattle of Helios, he becomes wise enough to sacrifice himself and his well-being in
order to win the approval of the gods (Harris and Platzner 437). This allows him to achieve some
patience, purpose, and manhood. It also allows for him to focus on the most important objective
in his life: to get back home. Another lesson that Odysseus learns is self-control. Through his
quest, he had to endure trials to increase his self-control in hopes to one day be able to kill all of
the suitors. His disguise by Athena is almost given away by his old nurse Eurycleia who “while
washing the strangers feet, recognizes him by a scar on his thigh” (Harris and Platzner 441).
Odysseus had successfully achieved self-control when he went to “Hades’ kingdom…nothing,
not even the affection of Eurycleia, who had been like a surrogate mother to him, must be
allowed to interfere with his plan to take the suitors by surprise” (441).
There is an underlying message in Homer’s “Odyssey. This message becomes more
apparent towards the end where Homer places the reunion of Odysseus with Penelope and relates

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1 Classical Literature and Mythology Odysseus’ Quest The well-known classical story of the “Odyssey,” written by Homer provides the intense and significant character development of the main character Odysseus as he fights many battles and attempts to return to his homeland. He is faced with many challenges and difficulties, including temptation, grief, anger, loneliness, and bitterness. All of the endeavors and trials Odysseus faced allowed him to grow his knowledge of self-identity and worth. This essay aims to explain what the purpose of Odysseus’ quest was, what he learns from it including important themes like loyalty and bravery, and what message Homer is implying in the story overall. It is made clear that the quest Odysseus must embark on is very important. The “Odyssey” presents the main character of Odysseus who is seen stranded and held captive on an island by a goddess named Calypso. His role is to return home and defeat hundreds of soldiers who are “competing to replace him as King of Ithica by marrying his wife, Penelope” (Harris and Platzner 425). One of the purposes for Odysseus’ quest is for him to define his sense of selfidentity. Being completely ...
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