The Odyssey is an enduring classic because it emphasizes the essential family values that exist within everyone regardless of culture. In Homer’s Odyssey, the main character, Odysseus, sets off on a voyage to foreign lands and encounters mythical beings. These supernatural forces seem intent on Odysseus’ destruction, but through his cunning and guile he is able to outwit, survive, and overcome the hostility entities of the world. His unwavering determination and longing to be reunited with his family ultimately allow him to find his way home.
Odysseus has become the model archetype of a hero that has influenced many stories in modern literature. The reason for this is because of his boundless courage and his reputation of being known as one of the bravest warriors in the land. Although he is looked upon by others with envy and perceived as a brave warrior it is the inherit flaws, present in everyman that truly define Odysseus as a character. The epic journey described in the Odyssey, deals greatly with Odysseus’ personal quest to discover where his heart truly lies and what is most important.
For Odysseus the primary focus is on defining his individual self without losing his family, while maintaining order in his life. Throughout his journey he constantly struggles with the idea of trying to balance what is important to him as an individual, with trying to preserve his family. When Odysseus finally returns home to his native land, the story feels like it’s coming to a natural conclusion. It is at this point in the story however, Odysseus’ trials and tribulations come full circle as he comes to know the consequences brought about by his 20 year absence. During Odysseus’ travels, he is tempted by lust, fame, wealth, and glory.
In the beginning of the epic he was tempted by wealth and by lust of the Goddess Calypso; she offered him immortality if he’d stay with her on the island. It took Odysseus 7 years to reach a decision, even though Calypso tried to sway him with physical pleasures, wealth, and eternal youth of immortality he still chose not to become immortal. On this voyage home he was yet again tempted, but this time it was by the opportunity of fame at the Olympic Games. Odysseus wanted to play in the games, but he resisted his urge to prove his abilities even though he was taunted.
He was determined to return home, which is the main reason he didn’t participate in the games. Another example him being tempted throughout his voyage, was after Odysseus penetrated the walls of Troy by tricking them with the gift of the Trojan horse, he became widely glorified as a war hero. In the epic, the relationship between the father and the son is important. This father-son relationship between Odysseus and Telemachus is attained through distance. Odysseus, the father has created this distance by being far away from home for over 20 years. Because of his father’s absence Telemachus is motivated to have his own journey.
It is during his voyages, Telemachus begins to prove his own worth. The physical distance between father and son is also important because this is way the two men establish and define their relationship with each other. The distance between them helped to strengthen their bond because this allowed them to prove themselves to each other by overcoming their own individual issues. Although Odysseus and Telemachus spend more time apart than they do together, the distance that separates them helps them to develop admiration and love for each another. Odysseus is proud of Telemachus for showing so much promise in his father’s absence.
And Telemachus admires Odysseus for his bravery and is proud his father is a legendary warrior. The reason that both Odysseus and Telemachus were able to form a bond; is because both men are willing and able to overcome overwhelming obstacles in order to reunite their family and see one another again after 20 years. In the epic, the bond between Odysseus and Telemachus unique because of the fact that both father and son wanted the relationship all along. Throughout the Odyssey, Homer emphasizes themes of family relationships and the importance of self-discovery.
Odysseus learns who he is, what he values, and finds his own way to make meaning of life. After all of his voyages searching for glory, wealth, fames, and lust Odysseus realizes that what he really needed and ultimately wanted was the family he already had. Through his voyages and searching for news about his father Telemachus discovers more about himself; who he is and what he is truly capable of, and finds his own self-worth. Both Odysseus and Telemachus were on their own journeys to find on another, and while on those journeys, each man found himself.