By being filled with vigour and by being well written, the Odyssey sets the mood for many of the adventures allowing the reader to become caught up in the story and sympathise with its characters. In Homers description of the adventure, you feel overcome with curiosity while reading. The plot of the Odyssey consists of the journey taken by the main character Odysseus while returning from the Trojan War. The wanderings are presented by use of flashback points in the poem where they’ve added meaning or a striking effect which is more dramatic or tightens the plot.
An example would be the opening scenes show the disorder that has arisen in Odysseus’ household during his long absence. A band of suitors is destroying his property as they attempt to steal his wife Penelope. One cannot help but feel the beginning of an adventure especially when young Telemachus goes in search of his father while Penelope mourns for her husband. We see that she is a smart character by eluding the suitors of marriage by her weaving. The focus then shifts to Odysseus himself. The story tells of his ten years of travelling, Odysseus’s ships were first blown to Thrace by a powerful storm.
The expedition had begun. Upon this misfortune, he and his men started a raid on the land of the Cicones. However, this only provided them with temporary success. The Cicones had struck back and defeated a vast majority of Odysseus’s crew. The reader can expect this to be the first of many disastrous experiences to come. During his adventures he has to face such dangers as the man-eating giant Polyphemus and threats such as the goddess Calypso, who offers him immortality if he will abandon his quest for home. One is always pondering how Odysseus is going to react to the next situation or if the G-ds are going to intervene.
The second half of the poem begins with Odysseus’ arrival at his home island of Ithaca. Here, exercising great patience and self-control, Odysseus tests the loyalty of his servants. He plots and carries out revenge on Penelope’s suitors, and is reunited with his son, his wife and father. Odysseus is always escaping danger, leading the reader deeper and deeper into the story line. The great thing about it is that through all of the adventures, his character begins to change and the reader wishes to find out how the next section of the adventure will progress.
Throughout his wanderings for home, Odysseus becomes a more humble and respectful man. The once boastful man learns that his boasting can bring people against him. He learns that the immortal gods of Olympus can be merciful and bring great prosperity, but they also punish those who disobey their wishes. Each time Odysseus is not respectful, he is been severely punished and his trip home delayed, more and more. Homer first introduces us to a man who fears nothing and converts him into a very smart caring individual, who in the end prevails through all of the obstacles that stood in his way.
This I find very exciting. Storms then blew his ships to the Lotus-eaters, where the crew was given Lotus fruit from which most lost their entire memories from home. Each stop hightens the tension of the story. Odysseus, and the others who had not tasted the lotus, recovered the sailors by force, and set sail again, to the island of the Cyclops, a race of one-eyed giants. Leaving most of his men in a sheltered cove, Odysseus then entered the island with one crew only. They wandered around, encountering, and foolishly entering a cave, awaiting the owner and expecting guest gifts.
You can tell from the vivid descriptions of the huge monsters with the comparison to the mortal Odysseus and his crew that, moments later something disastrous will await the men. Of course we encounter a Cyclops named Polyphemus, son of Poseidon. He enters and pushes a huge bolder covering the entrance to the cave the men, the reader can then realise that this will mean a plan to get themselves out of misfortune, upon this, he immediately ate two sailors, and promised to eat the others in due time. The audience can anticipate that Odysseus will save himself and the crew.
The morning came, and Polyphemus had eaten two more men, Odysseus, due to being quit witted, soon realised that killing him asleep would do no good since the mouth of the cave was still inescapable. Odysseus will have a plan to save himself and his men, but the reader is always waiting in anticipation. The new scheme, is to deceive the monster, when Polyphemus returned that evening, Odysseus showered him with wine until he’d fallen drunk. Then, with the help of his companions took a sharp pole and rammed it into his large eye, blinding him.
As the crew sailed away, Odysseus had unwisely revealed his name in taunting the poor beast, boasting his excessive pride. This of course will be the cause of many problems in the future voyage home due to Polyphemus’ prayer to his father, asking to punish the man who had caused him this harm. Later Odysseus and his men arrived at the island of Aeolus, keeper of the winds. There, they stayed for about one month, and departed, in sight of the long-awaited Ithaca. However, before they left, Odysseus was presented with a container of winds.
As Ithaca approached, the crew not knowing the contents of the bag, opened it up and released all the winds, depositing the ships back at the island of Aeolus, who refused to help them any further. The excitement is intense when the crew can see Ithaca but this is then reduced when they are then being blown away. The reader continues to await the next adventure. Having one vessel left after the encounter with the Lystragonians, Odysseus sailed his ship to the Island inhabited by Circe. A group of men were sent to explore the island, who were then lured, feasted, and then turned to swine by Circe.
Knowing this Odysseus went after her and on his way encountered Hermes who gave him a potion to withstand the spell. The excitement sets in when you ponder whether it is a trick from the G-ds who will turn Odysseus into a pig, or if this is going to be a turning point for Odysseus’ return. Circe tried and failed, Odysseus had then requested for his crew to be turned back to normal. She complied, and eventually housed Odysseus and his shipmates. Homesick and distraught, Odysseus was then advised by Circe to search the underworld for Tiresias, to tell him his fortune, and how to appease Poseidon.
Odysseus agreed and made a trip to the underworld, where he discovered many of his dead companions from Troy, most importantly, Tiresias. This section heightens the involvement of the reader and establishes the emotional tone of the hero’s narrative which is of compassion and regret, which is initiated when he is reunited with his mother. With his new knowledge, he returned to Circe, which had provided him with the information he needed to pass the Sirens. Again you wonder if this is a trick, will his journey terminate with Odysseus dying with his crew, or will he continue.
Odysseus’ next encounter is built up by the descriptions by Circe. Odysseus needed to direct his ship through a straight, between two cliffs, on one side the whirlpool Charybdis, on the other, a monster Scylla. Trying hard to avoid Charybdis Odysseus came too close to Scylla, and six members of his ship suffered the consequences. As the journey continued, the Island of Helios was ahead. Helios was the sun-god, and nurturer of the cattle of the gods. Knowing this, but at the same time extraordinarily hungry, his seamates then waited for Odysseus to fall asleep and slaughtered several of the cattle.
This was considered a lack of respect not only to Helios, but to the rest of the gods as well especially after being warned. Zeus angered by his gesture, struck his ship with thunder, destroying the entire thing and killing the rest of the crew except for Odysseus, who floated off to the Island of Ogygia to Calypso. He laid stress on the pain he felt at the loss of his comrades. Upon Poseidon’s departure, Zeus had then ordered that Calypso release Odysseus, who gave him an axe.
With this, he constructed a float, and continued his expedition. The reader is made to observe rather than visualise, the reason behind which, build up a mental impression rather than a detailed visual picture of them. Plus there are no general descriptions of landscapes of scenes. Only foreign places which arouse more curiosity are described in detail. An example of which would be Calypso’s cave, Alchinoos’ palace on Scheria, or the Harbour of Phorcys, all which have idyllic landscapes. The details keep you drawn to read more.