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Significance in Storytelling in the Odyssey

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    Essay One, The Odyssey Steven Botello ENGL 2315: Great Works of Literature I September 16, 2012 Imagine a life without television, no internet, no cell phones, no radio, no movies, and no video games. This was the life during the Odyssey. The storytelling in the Odyssey gave Greek society a way of entertainment. Men, woman, and children would listen to these stories with attentiveness and would then share them throughout their lives. These stories were told in many ways such as in poems, songs, and tales. If not for storytelling in the Odyssey, the story of Odysseus would be a lot shorter, as well as insignificant to Greek society.

    The storytelling in the Odyssey knitted the life of Odysseus together, and gave many moral lessons and reflected many features of Odysseus’ character. The moral lessons and features reflected of Odysseus in storytelling gave Greek society a man to look up to. Someone they could talk about and be inspired by. Storytelling created Odysseus to be the man that society talks about even to this day, it made him immortal. The Odyssey is full of storytelling. How can one be certain that these stories were true? Storytelling was the way society communicated during this time, and was a way of life.

    Storytelling was not only used for entertainment but also for therapy. Odysseus was away from his wife and son for a very long time, and (long[s]… to travel home and see the dawn of [his] return) (5. 242-43). Odysseus missed his family and telling his story throughout his voyage helped ease the pain and reminds him of all the struggles that he has gone through to get where he is and use it at motivation to keep fighting to reach his family. Odysseus was tempted with immortality, beautiful women and land “But they never won the heart inside me, never.

    So nothing is a sweet as a man’s own country…. ” (9. 37-38). He loved his country, wife and son, and he missed them very much. Weeping in tears and groaning, Odysseus could not hold his heartbroken feelings inside any longer. He had no other way of dealing with these mournful feelings so he would “tell you about the voyage fraught with hardship Zeus inflicted on me…” (9. 43-44). Even today people tell their life’s struggles and past to therapists, psychologist, and even family and friends to help with grief and sorrow. To me, this is what Odysseus is doing in books 9-12.

    He was letting out all his feelings by telling his tale of his voyage back home. Yes, it was a therapy session in which Odysseus told his legendary stories. Nonetheless, through his story telling “All [was] made good, [his] heart’s desire” (13. 45). Odysseus felt relieved of his mournful feelings after telling his stories and was eager to get home once and for all. Through Odysseus’ stories he would engage the listeners by implying that they were there with him, talking to them and involving them as if they were there. Odysseus was the “great teller of tales”, the man of great wisdom.

    Alcinous urged Odysseus to keep telling his “countless exploits” in book 11, and so Odysseus kept on. Alcinous and his men would “hold out till dawn’s first light if only you could bear, here in our halls to tell the tale of all the pains you suffered. ” (11. 425-28). This is how great of entertainment the storytelling of Odysseus was. His skillful techniques with words grasped the attention and hearts of his listeners. Storytelling has been used to teach moral lessons to adults and even young children and the storytelling done by Odysseus is no different.

    In Odysseus’ first obstacle, versus the Cyclops, Odysseus shows his common sense and does not fall for the Cyclops’ trap and refrains from telling the Cyclops where their ship is. Odysseus then devises a plan to escape. This plan shows that not only is Odysseus is a physically strong man but displays his keen sense of leadership by trying to save his men and get them back to their ship and escape death from the Cyclops. Here he demonstrates again his skillful use of words by convincing the Cyclops to drink the wine and allow Odysseus and his brave four to escape.

    The “One Eyed Giant” cannot see and Odysseus and what’s left of his men escape. Odysseus displays his leadership skills by getting his men out of the cave and escape death but, he brags to the Cyclops and tells the Cyclops his real name so that the Cyclops can tell of his name but this back fires and Cyclops tells his father Poseidon about what had happened. The moral lesson in this story that Odysseus tells is that one should not brag about his accomplishments to get fame. Even the wise and strong like Odysseus should not brag because that could over shadow a man’s strengths.

    In another story Odysseus fails to stay true to his instinct and gives in to his men’s desires of landing on land to rest and eat. Instead of staying strong and standing up to his men, he tries to make his crew happy, therefore landing so they can eat and drink and rest but his men do not stay true to their word and slaughtered the cattle of the Sun. In this epic moral lesson many men die because of their desire for something that they were told could and should not be obtained. Here Odysseus shows weakness when he gives in rather than staying strong.

    Many can learn from this moral lesson that Odysseus told. Children should listen to what they have been told by their parents or elders, and parents should not give in to their children’s desires for something that the parents know they shouldn’t give their children. Another way this story or lesson could portray is that as a leader, he or she should trust their intuition and find a way to win the hearts of their crew. A leader’s intuition is what separates them from the rest and therefore should be trusted, not turned away.

    The story between father, son, wife, and their home is the greatest moral lesson in the Odyssey. Throughout the Odyssey, the devotion between father, son, and wife is strong. Yes, at times it seemed as if this family would fall apart but in the end, they ended up together; not by chance or fate but by the determination of a father to et back home to his family, a wife’s faithfulness and loyalty to her husband and kingdom, and a son’s love and search for his father. The storytelling in the Odyssey displayed that family is everything and that the love of a family can overcome anything, even the gods.

    During the stories told in the Odyssey, lineages of families were told to demonstrate that family is important in that they are judged by their past and their name. To Telemachus, family means everything and so he sets off to find his father and himself to be able to reunite his family together. To Penelope, her love for Odysseus was more than enough to stay faithful to her husband. To Odysseus, the love for his family is what kept him alive and brought him back home to his family. Storytelling in this story of stories plays a significant part to not only Odysseus, but to all of society.

    Odysseus’ stories remind him that nothing will stop him from getting to his family and also help him cope with his feelings. To others, it inspires them and helps them realize that family is everything and that the love a family can never be deceived, broken or strayed. Storytelling helped society get through their struggles, like it did to Odysseus, and it also mad legends that others could remember and use for inspiration. Storytelling made Odysseus immortal after all, for we all remember him as a man of family and determination. .

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