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The Odyssey, written by Homer, is the story of Odysseus and how

he faced misfortune in his attempts to return home after the Trojan

war. From these misfortunes he learned to be a better man and became

able to regain his place in his homeland of Ithaca.

During his journeys Odysseus often makes the mistake of staying

to boast to his enemies but learns that doing so gives his opposition

a chance to seek retribution against him. After leaving Troy Odysseus

attacks the land of the Cicones. Instead of leaving after his victory,

he stays to celebrate until a force is rallied against him and he must

flee with many casualties. Afterwards Odysseus and his crew land on

the island of the Cyclops. They are attacked and some are eaten by

Polyphemus. After intoxicating the great Cyclops, Odysseus and his

men blind the monster with a heated spear. The men could have made an

escape without incident but Odysseus mocked Polyphemus and shouted out

his real name, when before Odysseus had told him that his name was

"Noman." With this new information Polyphemus prays to his father

Poseidon to have Odysseus and his men punished. Having angered

Poseidon, they must wander throughout the sea slowly dying one by one.

Odysseus learns that bragging can have ill effects and uses this

knowledge on the island of the Phaecians and Ithaca when he does not

openly boast of his deeds and his journeys.

Odysseus also learns to pay close attention to the instructions

of the gods, or he might have to face a terrible price. When Odysseus

and his crew landed at the island of Aeolus, they were given a parting

gift that would have helped them greatly if they had paid heed to the

warnings of Aeolus. He gave Odysseus a bag full of the bad winds that

would keep them from their home of Ithaca. Odysseus and his crew were

in sight of the homeland they had waited so long to see, when a band

of rebel crewmen opened the bag creating a great gale that blew them

back to Aeolus. When Aeolus saw this he believed that Odysseus was

cursed and banished him from the island. This is not the only time

Odysseus was betrayed by his men and suffered a great price. When

they landed on the island of Hyperion, bad winds prevented them from

leaving. Food soon became low; and when Odysseus fell asleep, the

crew killed the cows of Hyperion against numerous warnings. Hyperion

was infuriated to see this and had all of Odysseus' men killed in a

great storm. Odysseus learns that the gods must be respected in order

for any man to succeed.

During his journey Odysseus uses what he has learned from his

mistakes to return home and kill the suitors. On the island of the

Cicones, and with his encounter with Polyphemus, Odysseus learns that

bragging can bring damaging circumstances. On Ithaca Odysseus never

brags to the suitors and is able to enter his house without the

suitors knowing his real identity. He takes the punishment of

Antinous and the other suitors without saying a word and is able to

observe those who have invaded his house. Odysseus is able to see who

is loyal and who is not and take his revenge with the suitors never

knowing who he was until the final moment. Odysseus also learns to

respect the gods. When he landed on Aeaea, the island of Circe, he

follows the instructions given to him by Hermes so that he can

overcome Circe and free his men. Odysseus follows the instructions

that Circe had given him very closely; entering and leaving Hades

without misfortune and using wax in the ears of his crew to pass the

Sirens. Odysseus becomes a better man through his journeys and is

able to return to his homeland to restore his name.

Throughout his wanderings for home, Odysseus becomes a humbler

and more respectful man. The once boastful man learns that his

bragging can bring people against him, and is quieter than before he

left for Troy. He also learns that the immortal gods of Olympus can

be merciful and bring great prosperity, but they also punish those

that disobey their wishes. Everytime Odysseus has not been respectful

he has been severely punished and his trip home delayed. Out of this

great tragedy he has become a greater man to regain his kingdom and

live a long life.

Word Count: 744


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