Odyssey’s Book Essay
The Odyssey started with calling upon the muse to tell the story of Odysseus. The background of the story was laid down – it was ten years after the fall of Troy, and everyone who fought in the battle had got home, except Odysseus, who was detained by goddess Kalypso for want of marrying him. All gods, except Poseidon, pity Odysseus. When Poseidon had gone off to Aithiopians, the gods gathered for a feast and discussed Aegisthos, who was killed by Orestes. Orestes is the son of Agamemnon, the man whose life and wife was stolen by Aegisthos. It was here that Athene pleaded with Zeus to release Odysseus. Zeus agreed, and Hermes was sent to Kalypso to ask the latter to free Odysseus. This scene depicts how the gods interfere with the affairs of humans.
The story of Agamemnon is quite similar to that of Odysseus. Odysseus also has a wife surrounded by suitors, and a son who hates them. This then raises the issue on whether Penelope, Odysseus’s wife, will be as unfaithful as Agamemnon’s wife.
Athene then went to Ithaka and disguised as Mentes, son of Anchialos. Athene went to the house of Odysseus to inspire Telemachos, Odysseus’s son, and to embolden him to warn his mother’s suitors to leave before Odysseus returns. It is in this part that we could observe the essential themes in Odyssey’s Book I. There is the disguise of the goddess, the depiction of a woman as seductress, the demonstration of hospitality, and the story of journey.
The Greek gods often take alternate forms to have a connection with humans. In Book I, Athene disguised as Mentes, the chief of Taphians and son of Anchialos. This was done so that she would be entertained in Ithaka as Odysseus’s friend. With her disguise, she was able to inspire Telemachos through speaking of the story about Orestes and his act of killing Aegisthos. She told Telemachos that he is no longer a child and that he must get rid of his mother’s suitors at once. Telemachos was told to sail away to find news of his father and kill the suitors the way Orestes did.
Women are seen as seductress in the Odyssey. Goddess Kalypso was the obstacle to Odysseus’s return. Penelope, on the other hand, was presented as having an irresistible allure attracting several suitors.
Hospitality was manifested when Telemachos received Athene graciously. He made sure that the guest is comfortable, gave her food, and even proposed to give her a present. Even the suitors are considered guests, although Telemachos dislikes them.
The last but the most important theme is the tale of journey. Journey here must not be taken literally. Book I is not only about Odysseus’s journey of returning home. It is also about his son’s journey to manhood. Athene inspired Telemachos, telling the latter that he is no longer a child. He has to take the role of a household master while his father is away. He has to act like a grown up man and warn his mother’s suitors to leave and stop usurping their household. Book I then speaks of Telemachos’s journey into manhood in order to protect his father’s estate.
Towards the end of Book I, Telemachos had a confrontation with his mother. Penelope became upset at Phemios’s song as she said that the song reminds her of her lost husband. Instead of consoling the mother, Telemachos rather scold Penelope. This marks the start of Telemachos journey into manhood. With this, he declares that he is in control of his own household.