Culture and Society in "The Odyssey"

Topics: Odyssey, Odysseus, Greece Pages: 3 (1050 words) Published: June 12, 2008
Homer’s epic poem, “The Odyssey” reveals many aspects of ancient Greek life and culture through character and plot. Through each of the tales circling the life of Odysseus and the Greek people, Homer depicts the history, legends, values, and merits of the ancient Greeks. Greek culture is known to be one of the most flavored and thorough in history, and each facet of it—from religion to ideology to mentalities and beliefs. The Greeks valued intelligence and wit very strongly. “The Odyssey” offers countless examples of this. In fact, Odysseus himself gets out of many tough situations and conquers many obstacles with his wit and cleverness. He tells Polyphemos the Cyclopes that his name is “Nobody” and succeeds in blinding him and getting away. He overcomes Circe’s bewitching magic. He fills the ears of his companions with wax and demands that they tie him to the mast in order to safely pass by the tantalizing Sirens. Homer remarks that Odysseus is “far the best of mortal men for counsel and stories” and even suggests that he is able to match a god in wits and trickery. Odysseus’s wife, Penelope, is just as cunning and smart. Feigning the task of sewing a shroud for Laertes, she secretly undoes what she does in the day during the night. It is also notable that Penelope gets so many suitors because she is so well-known for her wisdom and intelligence. Another quality treasured by the Greeks was loyalty and fidelity. Despite enriching experiences and countless temptations along his travels, Oedipus never strays from his path and ultimate dream to return to his home and family. He loves his wife Penelope, he loves his home, and he yearns constantly for that. The beautiful nymph Calypso offers him the seemingly undeniable bribes of immortality and happiness. However, because he genuinely loves his wife and maintains fidelity towards her, he refuses Calypso’s offer. At the same time, Penelope remains utterly faithful towards Odysseus despite temptations from the...
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