Essay on Homer's Odyssey as a Moral Epic

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A large number of the works of ancient poetry and literature have been said to carry a moral undertone. Homer's 'Odyssey' is no exception. This essay explores the moral positions that the poem seems to adopt. Subsequently, it will show that while the 'Odyssey' is indeed a moral epic, the moral position of the main characters themselves, namely Odysseus and the Gods, can, at times, be questionable. Loyalty is one moral value that is evident throughout the poem. No character embodies loyalty more than Penelope who remains loyal and true to Odysseus throughout his absence, refusing to give in to the suitors' proposal of marriage and not engaging in any extramarital affair. She constantly praises Odysseus with…show more content…
The 'nobody' trick and the way he and his men escapes the cave guarded by the blind Polyphemos illustrates this perfectly.5 It is also his mind that saves him and his men from death at the hands of Charybdis. Rather than lose the whole crew to Charybdis, Odysseus chooses to face Scylla, although he fails to save the six men the monster devours.6 It is also his intelligence that wins him Athene's favour.7 Intelligence is given more importance than physical attributes like strength and beauty. Penelope's intelligence, proven with the trick of Laertes's death shroud to delay the suitors, is more important than her beauty, for it is that and not her beauty that keeps her from marrying the suitors. Penelope's intelligence is set against Helen's superficiality, all beauty and not much brain. This can be said to be reflected in the gift she awards to Telemachos- a robe that is extremely beautiful, but somehow, rather useless.8 The 'Odyssey' seems to portray the idea that obstacles and hardship arise out of moral weakness. Self-control is overwhelmingly important. Sufferings come about when a person gives in to temptation. A fine example of this is when Odysseus shouts out his real name to Polyphemos as his ship is leaving the land of the Cyclops.9 He gives in to the temptation of glory and recognition. He wants Polyphemos and everyone else to know that it is he, Odysseus,
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