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The Settings and Themes of Book 13 of the Odyssey

Book 13 of the Odyssey begins with Odysseus finishing his tale in the King Alcinous’ palace. It is King Alicinous that tells Odysseus he will give him a safe passage home to Ithaca. Odysseus is not surprisingly grateful and hopes that Alcinous and his people and island are blessed by the gods. The king then gave Odysseus a great black ship with a crew and more treasure then he could have ever gotten from Troy. The men sail Odysseus and his treasure home to Ithaca. When they arrive at Ithaca, they place Odysseus on a beach while he is sound asleep.

Poseidon sees that Odysseus has reached home and asks Zeus if he can punish Odysseus for the final time. Zeus suggests he punish the Phaecians instead for helping Poseidon’s enemy. Therefore, as the Phaecians’ ship is just outside the reach of their harbor on the journey homePoseidon sends the ship crashing into the rocks. Alcinous then speaks of a prophecy that his father told him – that the great god Poseidon would punish them, crash one of their ships, and raise a mountain blocking their harbor. Back on the island of Ithaca Odysseus awoke.

He awoke to meet Athena disguised as a shepherd boy. Odysseus asked the boy where he was, because he had no idea, he thought the Phaecians did not bring him to his desired destination. The boy tells him Ithaca. In response to this, Odysseus created an extensive lie about who he is in front of Athena. Athena then scolded him for this. The Goddess then told Odysseus that Telemachus is with Menelaus searching for answers and tales of his father. There are three settings in Book 13 of The Odyssey. This book began in the kingdom of Alcinous where Odysseus began his short voyage home.

It later in the book comes back to this setting when Alcinous told of the prophecy and Poseidon punishing the Phaecians. The second and main setting is Ithaca. This was when Odysseus finally reached home. It is here he met Athena and learned of his son’s own personal odyssey. A good deal of imagery was present in this chapter. One image that stood out was that Odysseus was finally called King Odysseus (288). This shows that Homer is trying to finally show that he is worthy of wearing the title of King.

More imagery present was when Odysseus departed from Alcinous’ island and he looked at the ship that would carry him home. It showed that Odysseus had a yearning for the sea and was amazed by great ships. Ithaca was also presented as beautiful imagery. By doing this, Homer shows how much Odysseus loved his homeland and how beautiful it really was. The imagery of Athena’s eyes was also repeated in this book. “Athena answered, her eyes brightening now” (294) is just one of the lines used. Odysseus was very dynamic in this Book.

In the beginning, he seemed so unselfish when he thanked Alcinous and blessed him. He seemed to show the qualities that a king should have. When he reaches Ithaca, all he could think about was where he could stash his loot and money. He did not thank the gods or anyone else that he made it home. This is the exact opposite of what was shown earlier of his unselfishness. When he began to speak with Athena, it was shown that he was clearly dependent on Athena and had a hard time getting by without her.

This was clearly not a characteristic a king should have. There are several themes in this book. Being grateful was a theme in this book. Odysseus must be grateful to his hosts that had given him so much. Riches came from his gratefulness, not only riches of gold and silver, but also the riches of a safe passage home. If he had not been polite, he would probably not have been offered a ship home. Home Sweet Home was a predominant theme in this book. Odysseus yearned for home, his family, and his kingdom.

It is shown in this book that there is nothing greater than your own home. Athena shows the theme of lying is bad when Odysseus fibbed. Odysseus began to create a lie and was caught in front of a goddess. One of the less obvious themes was that the Gods are arrogant. Athena speaks of herself in a manner of praise toward herself. “I am famous among the gods for wisdomI am here once more, to weave a scheme for you” (296) is one of the passages which shows her arrogance. Be grateful, home sweet home, honesty, and arrogance are themes in Book 13 of the Odyssey.

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