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The Lessons of Loyalty in The Odyssey, a Poem by Homer

The Lessons of a Journey

The epic poem The Odyssey written by Homer and translated by Robert Fitzgerald is the story of a man as he embarks on an unexpectedly long and brutal journey home from the Trojan war with his crew of men. Along the way, the protagonist, Odysseus is confronted by many conflicts and obstacles that he must use his strength, skills, or quick thinking in order to overcome, learning important life lessons along the way. Throughout Odysseus’ travels in the epic poem The Odyssey, the reader can perceive the importance of loyalty and perseverance not only for the success of Odysseus in finding and reclaiming his home, but also to have success in society today.

The theme and life lesson of loyalty is demonstrated throughout the epic poem The Odyssey by Homer, as Odysseus must face many difficult challenges and temptations to abandon his family, his wife, his home, and his beliefs. By staying loyal, Odysseus is able to have a driving force behind his will to return to his home and family and ultimately succeed. For example, when Odysseus is trapped on the island of Ogygia, held hostage by the goddess Calypso, he is incredibly depressed, longing for his home and his family no matter what Calypso did for him: “By nights he would lie beside her, of necessity, in the hollow caverns, against his will, by one who was willing, but all the days he would sit upon the rocks, at the seaside, breaking his heart in tears and lamentation and sorrow as weeping tears he looked out over the barren water” (Homer 5.152-158). Odysseus is in despair of his situation, he longs for his home and his family and he is being held against his will. He is being kept on a beautiful island with endless food from Calypso and a beautiful woman in in heavy pursuit of him; many people would call this a paradise, yet Odysseus is being held against his will as he is determined to remain loyal to his family as well as himself and his morals. Loyalty is a life skill that is still applicable to society today. It is the basis of any relationship whether it be a friendship, romantic, or a business relationship. In order to succeed in today’s society, loyalty is absolutely paramount because of the immense number of relationships that you must make in order to succeed, no matter what your profession or lifestyle may be. The life lesson of loyalty is continually demonstrated to the reader throughout the epic poem and it is still very important and applicable to life today.

In The Odyssey by Homer, the theme of perseverance is indisputable as Odysseus embarks on a brutal ten year journey to find his home and his family, having to encounter countless challenges along the way. Though giving up may have been the logical choice on many occasions during his journey, Odysseus is able to use his perseverance and drive to continue onward throughout the long years. His perseverance and determination also causes others to look up to him and to be inspired by his determination and will to succeed: “You are a hard man, Odysseus. Your force is greater, your limbs never wear out. You must be made all of iron, when you will not let your companions, worn with hard work and wanting sleep, set foot on this land, where if we did, on the seagirt island we could once more make ready a greedy dinner; but you force us to blunder along just as we are through the running night, driven from the island over the misty face of the water” (Homer 12.279-285). Odysseus is seen as a leader not because of his rank or his power, but because of the way that he carries himself and the hardworking, never quit personality that he has adopted. This attitude that he carries himself with gives his fellow crew the notion that he is invincible and an obvious natural leader. The skill and trait of perseverance is equally if not more important as it was in the age of Odysseus. In our society today one must work hard in order to achieve anything of worth, especially when it comes to academics and one’s career. Perseverance is a lesson that clearly stands out all the way through this epic poem, teaching the reader the fabled lesson that in order to succeed one must work hard and be dedicated.

The themes of loyalty and perseverance are prominent throughout the epic poem The Odyssey written by Homer and translated by Robert Fitzgerald as Odysseus embarks on a long and difficult journey home from fighting in the Trojan war. Odysseus continuously expresses these traits as he overcomes the countless obstacles leading up to his return home. Without these skills, Odysseus would’ve been forever lost at sea or trapped on the island of Calypso having abandoned his family and his beliefs. Instead, his actions and characteristics teach the reader valuable lessons that are still relevant today, over 1200 years after this poem was written.

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