Happiness In The Odyssey Essay

1526 Words 7 Pages
“Why does any man do anything in the whole damn world? ‘Cause there 's a girl.” These words pretty well sum up men’s actions since the creation of woman. Odysseus, the hero from Homer’s Odyssey is no exception to this. While the Odyssey is no doubt a great adventure story, full of great battles and severing of limbs, it is also at its core, a love story. It is the tale of Odysseus facing innumerable trials to return to his ever faithful Penelope. For him, returning to his wife his final cause, his great desire that motivates his actions that keep him itching closer to home. It is only in his return to his beloved, Penelope, and reengagement in domestic life that Odysseys finds happiness. After twenty years of laborious travels, when Odysseus …show more content…
It is during this time that we see that happiness for Odysseus could never be as simple as respite alone. If being in a peaceful environment away from the struggles of his travels were all that would make him happy, he would have stayed with Kalypso forever. The island is clearly no shanty town. “Even a god who found this place would gaze, and feel his heart beat with delight” (V: 79-80). Moreover, Kalypso’s favorite way to pass time in paradise is to take Odysseus to bed. Based on his description of her that does not sound like it should be an unpleasant enterprise, “My quiet Penelope- how well I know- would seem a shade before your majesty,” (V: 226-227). Just as a friendly reminder, shades are the spirits of the dead. He is saying that compared to Kalypso, his wife looks dead. Yet despite this, he still takes no joy in being there. “Though he fought shy of her and her desire, he lay with her each night, for she compelled him. But when day came he sat on the rocky shore and broke his own heart groaning, with wet eyes scanning the bare horizon of the sea.” (V: 162-166). Odysseus knows from this experience that joys of the flesh are not sufficient for happiness. Being a concubine will never satisfy, even if it is being a concubine to a goddess. Odysseus knows that if he wants to be truly happy, he must be a …show more content…
This necessity for his happiness is proven with his interaction with the young princess Nausikaa in the land of the Phaiakians. Here he is offered to take the princess as his bride. He is, for a moment, tempted by this offer. She is described to be quite beautiful and she is quite taken with Odysseus. About him, she says, “Uncouth he seemed, I thought so, too, before: but now he looks like one of heaven’s people. I wish my husband could be as fine as he and glad to stay forever on Skheria!” (VI: 254-260). However, many beautiful women have been infatuated with Odysseus. Heck two of them were even goddesses. It is clearly not only her beauty that interests him. It is what a life with her would mean. There is a chance with Nausikaa that he could have a real life and a real marriage. At this point in the story, Odysseus has not seen his wife in twenty years and has no idea if he will be returning to a faithful woman. With Nausikaa he could start a new and gain the domestic bliss he longs for. He must say no though. He knows that if his wife is faithful on Ithaca, a life with her would bring a happiness to surpass any other. His great devotion and love for Penelope is also revealed by way of the blessing he gives to Nausikaa after she helps him. He says, “And may the gods accomplish your desire: a home, a husband, and harmonious converse with him- the best thing in the world being a strong house held in serenity where man and wife agree.

Related Documents