The Renaissance period was defined by the plethora of work that paid homage to antiquity, or the classics. These Renaissance writers, artists, and thinkers recognized the virtues, themes, and ideas of the classics and they were able to harness those virtues, themes, and ideas in order to influence their society. Today, the same thing is exhibited in many contemporary works. There is evidence of the importance of classical ideas in various modern works of today, ranging from but not limited to, art, music, and literature.
This paper deals specifically with the way music captures the essence of the classical virtues, themes, and ideas in Homer’s “The Odyssey”. The song of emphasis is “Coming Home” by Diddy, featuring Skylar Grey. The song refers to three other songs, “The Tears of a Clown” by Smokey Robinson, “A House is Not a Home” by Dionne Warwick, and “Ain’t No Stopping Us Now” by McFadden & Whitehead. Collectively, all these songs efficiently capture the importance of the struggle, the classical definition of home and the joy of reaching home that is exemplified in “The Odyssey”.
“Coming Home” begins with the proclamation, “ I’m coming home/ I’m coming home/ Tell the World I’m coming home/ Let the rain wash away all the pain of yesterday/ I know my kingdom awaits and they’ve forgiven my mistakes/ I’m coming home, I’m coming home/ Tell the World that I’m coming” (Combs). Diddy wastes no time in establishing the goal of his journey. This opening stanza portrays the story of Odysseus and his desire to get back home to Ithaca and his family.
This desire is evident from the very first time we are introduced to Odysseus in book five where Calypso finds him “sitting, still, weeping, his eyes never dry, his sweet life flowing away with the tears he wept for his foiled journey home” (Homer 157). Home proves to be immensely important to Odysseus. In order to understand why getting home is so imperative, it is essential to comprehend what the definition of home is. To Odysseus, home is the foundation of his very being, his identity, and his very reason for living.
Without the hope of getting back home Odysseus has no desire to live. He displays this in has refusal to stay with Calypso despite her great beauty and power. He responded to a perplexed Calypso, saying, “Ah great goddess…don’t be angry with me, please. All that you say is true, how well I know. Look at my wise Penelope. She falls far short of you…Nevertheless I long–I pine, all my day –to travel home and see the dawn of my return. And if a god will wreck me yet again on the wine-dark sea, I can bear that too with a spirit tempered to endure.
Much have I suffered, labored long and hard by now in the waves and wars. Add this to the total–bring the trial on! ” (Homer 159). Odysseus’s believed that if he were able to get home, he would essentially be able to “wash away all the pain of yesterday” (Combs). As the song continues, Diddy raps, “I hear “The Tears of a Clown”/ I hate that song/ I always feel like they talking to me when it comes on (come on)” (Combs). This song, most especially the second and third stanzas, is a perfect interpretation of what Telemachus deals with back at Ithaca.
“But don’t let my glad expression/ Give you the wrong impression/ Really I’m sad, oh sadder than sad/ You’re gone and I’m hurting so bad/ Like a clown I pretend to be glad/ Now there’s some sad things known to man/ But ain’t too much sadder than the tears of a clown/ When there’s no one around” (Robinson). Burdened with the task of having to wait and hope for the return of Odysseus, he struggles with wanting to believe that his father will soon return, routing the suitors that were stealing from his house, and attempting to gain his mother’s hand in marriage.
When we first meet Telemachus, he shares with Athena the grief that the suitors caused him but he simply allows it, even at one point accepting that Odysseus would never return; “But now, no use, he’s died a wretched death. No comfort’s left for us…not even if someone, somewhere, says he’s coming home. The day of his return will never dawn. ” (Homer 83). Telemachus is torn and distraught, but sees no use in doing anything about his situation.
Completely hopeless, he says of himself “Would to go I’d been the son of a happy man whom old age overtook in the midst of his possessions! Now, think of the most unlucky mortal ever born–since you ask me, yes, they say I am his son. ” (Homer 84). The next verse starts, “”A House is Not a Home”, I hate this song/ Is a house really a home when your loved ones are gone” (Combs). This verse expresses the importance of Odysseus’s struggle to get back to Ithaca. With his absence from home, it is not even possible for Telemachus and Penelope to experience “home”.
Capturing this idea Dionne Warwick writes, “A chair is still a chair/ Even when there’s no one sittin’ there/ But a chair is not a house/ And a house is not a home/ When there’s no one there to hold you tight/ And no one there you can kiss goodnight/ Woah girl/ A room is a still a room/ Even when there’s nothin’ there but gloom/ But a room is not a house/ And a house is not a home/ When the two of us are far apart”. So effectively, Telemachus and Penelope have become guests in their own house, which is being overrun by the greedy suitors.
Diddy continues with, “So you’ve been a guest in your own home/ It’s time to make your house your home” (Combs), conveying the pertinence of Telemachus actions in finally seeking the whereabouts of his father, and the struggle of Odysseus to get back to Ithaca and finally make his house a home again. The last verse in “Coming Home” introduces the joy of succeeding in the journey home. “”Ain’t No Stopping Us Now”, I love that song/ Whenever it comes on it makes me feel strong” (Combs). Odysseus seems to share this feeling.
When he returns to Ithaca to reclaim his house there is a sense that his success is inevitable, that there really is no stopping him. This is displayed in the almost effortless destruction of the suitors. “Ain’t no stoppin’ us now/ We’re on the move/ (You said it, we’ve got the groove)/ Ain’t no stoppin’ us now/ We’ve got the groove/ Whoo-hoo-oo-oo Whoo-hoo-oo)/ Ain’t no stoppin’ us now/ We’re on the move/ (We’ve got the groove)/ Ain’t no stoppin’ us now/ We’ve got the groove (Yeah)” (McFadden & Whitehead).
These lyrics are befitting for the conclusion of “The Odyssey”. Odysseus reaches home, dismantles his enemies, and restores order. It is important to recognize that the Odyssey not only deals with a physical journey, but also a personal journey for Odysseus. At the end of the day, if Odysseus were a rapper, it seems as if he would borrow this line from Diddy, “And here I stand (here i stand), a better man! (a better man)/ Thank you Lord (Thank you Lord)” (Combs).
The trials and the experiences on the quest back home clearly change Odysseus, breaking him down in order to build him up for his triumphant return. This is apparent at the end of the book in the way that he handles the suitors with patience, a trait that he was not apt to exhibit earlier in the book. All in all, “Coming Home”, “The Tears of a Clown”, “A House is Not a Home”, and “Ain’t No Stopping Us Now” all relate to the story of Odysseus and can be used as tools to bring greater understanding of the virtues, ideas, and themes in “The Odyssey.
Works Cited Homer, Robert Fagles, and Bernard Knox. The Odyssey. New York: Viking, 1996. Print. Combs, Sean. “Coming Home. ” Last Train To Paris. Bad Boy Records, 2010 McFadden & Whitehead. “Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now. ” McFadden & Whitehead. Philadelphia International, 1979 Robinson, Smokey. “The Tears of a Clown. ” Make It Happen. Tamla, 1970 Warwick, Dionne. “A House is Not a Home. ” Make Way for Dionne Warwick. Scepter, 1964
Cite this Coming Home – Renaissance
Coming Home – Renaissance. (2016, Sep 03). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/coming-home/