Significance in Storytelling in the Odyssey

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In the era of the Odyssey, people lacked modern forms of entertainment such as television, internet, cell phones, radio, movies, or video games. Nevertheless, storytelling provided them with amusement. The captivating stories in the Odyssey were eagerly listened to by individuals of various ages and were transmitted through generations. These narratives assumed diverse formats including poems, songs, and tales. Without storytelling playing a role in the Odyssey’s narrative, Odysseus’ tale would have been briefer and less significant to Greek society.

The storytelling in the Odyssey wove together the life of Odysseus, imparting moral lessons and reflecting his character. These moral lessons and reflections provided Greek society with a role model, someone they could admire and draw inspiration from. This narrative constructed Odysseus as a figure of ongoing discussion and admiration, granting him immortality. Amidst the Odyssey’s abundance of storytelling, one may question the veracity of these stories. However, storytelling served as a crucial means of communication and was an integral part of society during that time.

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Storytelling served as both entertainment and therapy. Odysseus, who had been separated from his wife and son for a long time, longed for their return and reunion (5. 242-43). Despite missing them deeply, Odysseus found solace in recounting his journey, finding relief and reminding himself of the hardships he endured to reach his current position. Reflecting on this motivated him to persevere on his quest to be reunited with his loved ones, even when faced with temptations such as immortality, beautiful women, and land: “But they never won the heart inside me, never.”

In books 9-12, Odysseus expresses his profound love for his country, wife, and son, emphasizing that nothing is as delightful as one’s own homeland. Overwhelmed by intense sorrow, he could no longer contain his heartbroken emotions and found solace in divulging the challenges he endured on a treacherous journey imposed upon him by Zeus. Similar to modern times, where individuals seek therapy and confide in loved ones to cope with grief, Odysseus shares his struggles and past experiences as a means of processing his grief and sorrow.

Through sharing his legendary stories during a therapy session, Odysseus found solace and was able to release pent-up emotions regarding his arduous journey back home. The act of storytelling proved to be therapeutic for Odysseus, fulfilling his deepest desires and offering respite from his sorrowful state. Furthermore, these narratives provided an avenue for him to express his yearning to finally reunite with his family and homeland. By captivating his audience with these tales, Odysseus effectively immersed them in the story itself, making them feel actively involved. As a result, he earned the esteemed title of the “great teller of tales” and gained reverence for his wisdom.

Alcinous, in book 11, urged Odysseus to continue sharing his many adventures. Alcinous and his men were willing to wait until morning so that Odysseus could recount the tale of his sufferings in their halls (11. 425-28), demonstrating the captivating entertainment value of Odysseus’ storytelling prowess. Through artful use of words, Odysseus effectively captivated the attention and stirred the emotions of his audience. Storytelling has always served as a means to convey moral lessons to both adults and children, and this remains true for Odysseus’ storytelling as well.

Odysseus encounters the Cyclops as his first challenge. He displays his intelligence by not falling into the Cyclops’ trap and refusing to disclose their ship’s whereabouts. Odysseus devises a plan to escape, highlighting his strength and leadership skills as he strives to rescue his men, reunite with the ship, and avoid being killed by the Cyclops. Moreover, he demonstrates his persuasive language abilities once more by convincing the Cyclops to consume wine and allowing Odysseus and his brave companions to flee.

The “One Eyed Giant” is unable to see, allowing Odysseus and his remaining men to escape. Odysseus demonstrates his leadership abilities by navigating his men out of the cave and evading death, but he makes the mistake of boasting to the Cyclops and revealing his true name, hoping that the Cyclops will spread the word. Unfortunately, this plan backfires as the Cyclops informs his father Poseidon of the incident. The lesson that Odysseus imparts in this tale is that one should avoid bragging about their achievements in order to gain fame. Even someone as wise and strong as Odysseus must refrain from boasting as it can overshadow a person’s strengths.

In another narrative, Odysseus succumbs to the temptations of his crew and deviates from his initial instinct. Rather than asserting his will and resisting his men’s desires to disembark and take respite on land, he succumbs to their wishes in order to appease them. Consequently, they land to satisfy their hunger and thirst, but fail to uphold their promise and engage in the slaughter of the Sun’s cattle. Through this epic tale, a profound moral lesson is imparted as numerous men perish due to their relentless pursuit of something they were explicitly cautioned against acquiring. In this instance, Odysseus displays a vulnerability by yielding instead of maintaining his resolve.

Learning from the moral lesson shared by Odysseus is valuable. It teaches children the importance of heeding the advice of their parents or elders, and parents should resist their children’s requests for things they know are not suitable. Additionally, this story emphasizes the significance of a leader’s intuition in winning the loyalty of their crew. Trusting and relying on a leader’s intuition sets them apart from others and should not be dismissed.

The greatest moral lesson in the Odyssey is the story of the bond between a father, son, wife, and their home. Throughout the epic, the devotion within this family unit remains unwavering. Although there were challenges that could have torn them apart, they ultimately reunite. This reunion was not left to chance or fate, but rather it was achieved through a father’s determination to return home, a wife’s faithfulness and loyalty, and a son’s love and quest for his father. The Odyssey’s narrative underscores the importance of family and emphasizes that familial love has the power to triumph over any obstacle, even the gods.

The Odyssey emphasizes the significance of family through the sharing of lineage stories, which illustrate how individuals are evaluated based on their family’s lineage and reputation. Telemachus highly values his family and embarks on a journey to find his father and ultimately reunite his family. Penelope remains faithful to Odysseus due to her intense love for him. Meanwhile, Odysseus’s deep affection for his family becomes the driving force behind his survival and longing to return home. The act of storytelling holds great importance in this epic, not only for Odysseus but also for society as a whole.

Odysseus’ tales serve as a reminder to himself that no obstacle can prevent him from reuniting with his loved ones and provide solace for his emotions. To others, these stories serve as a source of inspiration, fostering the realization that family holds unparalleled significance and that the bonds within a family are unbreakable, unaffected by deception or separation. Storytelling served as a means for society to overcome their hardships, similarly to Odysseus, and it generated myths that others could recall and draw motivation from. Ultimately, storytelling bestowed immortality upon Odysseus, as he is remembered as a man devoted to his family and unwavering determination.

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Significance in Storytelling in the Odyssey. (2016, Dec 18). Retrieved from

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