Odyssey Death and Renewal in the Odyssey
The Odyssey, the Blind Bard uses numerous literary techniques in order to lend suggesting to the poem beyond its presence as a work of historical fiction and help his readers in the understanding of the tale. One of these strategies is the use of themes. A theme is a recurring style that is used throughout the work. In The Odyssey, Homer uses many themes including eating/drinking, Odysseus’s anger, bathing, and camouflage, simply among others. Nevertheless, perhaps the most crucial of Homer’s concepts is the symbolic death and rebirth style.
This theme is utilized throughout The Odyssey to highlight he development and knowledge of the characters. The first example of this motif occurs with Telemachos early in the text. Telemachos, in book I, is checked out by the goddess Athena in camouflage. In their conversation, Telemachos exposes the discomfort and suffering that he is experiencing as a result of living without knowing the status of his dad, fearing that he is dead. “… and he left discomfort and lamentation to me. Nor is it for him alone that I grieve in my pain now (The Odyssey, Latimore, I. 242-3).
Symbolically, at this moment in the text, Telemachos is dead. He is willing to take no action to conserve his home from the uitors or take any initiative to identify the status of his missing father. Nevertheless, his symbolic death is not without a renewal. Athene, disguised as Mentes, brings Telemachos back to life. She convinces him that he should act to protect his family and figure out the fate of his daddy. This triggers Telemachos to take over his daddy’s role in the household and journey forward to gather info about his missing dad.
His renewal is further performed in the story when he is reunited with his dad; together, the 2 act to regain control of their household from the run-down suitors. The next example of the death and renewal motif occurs with our introduction to the story’s main character and hero, Odysseus. Homer introduces Odysseus on the Kalypso’s island. On a simply literal level, Odysseus’s stay with Kalypso would cause his demise as that was the fate of mortals who coped with goddesses. On a more symbolic level, Odysseus was dead to the world as Kalypso prohibits him from leaving the island and forces him to do her bidding.
Odysseus was reborn, however, at the hands of Hermes, who was a messenger for Zeus himself. Hermes tells Kalypso that Odysseus is to be reed so Odysseus builds a raft and sets out for house. This symbolic renewal is highlighted by Odysseus’s introduction from the ocean on the island of the Phaiakians. He is washed ashore with absolutely nothing– his raft is ruined and he is entirely naked. This naked introduction can also be seen as symbolic of birth.
Another reference to this renewal is found at the end of book V. As when a man buries a burning log in a black ash heap in a remote place in the country, where none live near as neighbors, and saves the seed of fire, having no other location to get a light from … (V. 488-91). The phrase “seed of the fire” is used by Homer specifically to make reference to the rebirth of Odysseus; the term “seed” clearly brings to mind reproductive and birth images that would not be connected with a less metaphorical recommendation. Another instance in which Homer utilizes the death and rebirth concept accompanies Odysseus’s adventure with the cyclops Polyphemus.
Odysseus and his men are trapped in the cave of Polyphemus, which signifies their death. This death is further stressed when Odysseus refers to himself as “Nobody”. As Homer later states, those in the underworld are really obodies– they have no interaction with the living world and can not even communicate. Odysseus is born-again through his own ingenuity and cleverness as he escaped Polyphemus’s cave and revealed to the cyclops his real identity, once again making himself born into the world of mortals.
Cyclops, if any mortal man ever asks you who it was that caused upon your eye this disgraceful blinding, tell him that you were blinded by Odysseus, sacker of cities (IX. 502-4).” The symbolic renewal of Odysseus can be emphasized by the cave, which can be viewed as a sign of the womb, for that reason making Odysseus’ development from the cyclops’s cavern a true renewal. The next example of the death and renewal theme is a rather obvious one that needs little symbolic inference: Odysseus’s descent into the underworld in book XI.
Homer utilizes numerous light and dark references to emphasize the death and renewal theme in this book– darkness signifying death and light symbolizing life and for that reason rebirth. “… how is it then, unhappy guy, you have left the sunshine and come here to look on dead guys, and this location without satisfaction? (XI. 93-4). While in the underworld, Odysseus gets insights about his ultimate return home. With this understanding, Odysseus and his team return to the world f the living, representing their rebirth. Again, light and dark images are used to emphasize this rebirth. “… where Helios, the sun, makes his uprising … XII. 4). “
As shown in the preceding line, Odysseus returns from the Underworld to the location where the sun rises– the symbolism is obvious. The death and rebirth theme surface areas once again in book XIII. Odysseus, after going to the underworld, is returning house to Ithaca. During the long trip, he is visited by Arete’s serving females. The females bring Odysseus gifts and put him into a deep rest, which Homer himself compares to death: “The bent to their rowing, nd with oars tossed up the sea spray, and upon the eyes of Odysseus there fell a sleep, gentle, the sweetest type of sleep with no awakening, many like death. (XIII. 78-81). “
Once again, this death is not without a renewal. The Phaiakians leave the sleeping Odysseus on the beach beside an olive tree, which can be seen as a symbol for life. Likewise, they leave his presents in a nearby cavern, which once again can be symbolic for the womb– particularly so in this instance due to the fact that of the nurturing items included within. This theme is re-emphasized in this book due to the fact that much of the people of Ithaca think that Odysseus in fact is dead; they will see his return from the underworld as a real renewal.
Penelope is Homer’s next lorry to reinforce the death and rebirth concept. In book XVIII, Athena triggers Penelope to undergo a deep sleep which Penelope relates to death. “How I want chaste Artemis would provide me a death so soft … (XVIII. 202).” While sleeping, Athena boosts Penelope’s looks in anticipation of Odysseus’s return. Penelope awakens looking more youthful, taller, and more beautiful. After she awakens– her rebirth– Penelope speaks with her child and makes a definitive declaration condemning the uitors– something she had actually never ever done before in public.
Really, this represents a rebirth and awakening in the character of Penelope. The final example of the death and renewal style in The Odyssey happens in book XXIV when Odysseus is reunited with his father, Laertes. Laertes faints when he understands that his son has returned. This fainting represents his death. When he awakens, and is therefore born-again, he has a new love for life and no longer longs for death to surpass him. This is a very fast, compact variation of the death and rebirth style at the end of the book. In general, the death and rebirth heme makes a very important contribution to The Odyssey.
Throughout the work, Homer utilizes this theme for several reasons. Primarily, it helps the reader gain better understanding into what is among the more vital underlying styles in the whole book: one must never ever give up on living. Homer informs his tale and highlights that, even though a situation may appear insurmountable, there is always an alternative that, if taken, will not only sustain life but provide some important insight or experience. This theme of The Odyssey is a universal one, which genuinely helps to account for the timelessness of this skillful example Homer’s work.