In Homer’s, “The Odyssey”, Odysseus struggles to return home not only to rejoin his wife Penelope and son Telemakhos but also to fulfill his duty as ruler and legend. As Odysseus struggles homeward, the idea of his true self and what defines him shifts. His longing for family and sovereignty serves, at times, as a raging fire that propels him home. At other times it seems to be lost in the shadows of his adventures. At the end, when all conflicts are resolved and Odysseus is reunited with his wife and son, He becomes the Odysseus that is truly himself. We learn that a united family can overcome any obstacles and that true devotion and dedication will triumph in the end. Odysseus’ true self is defined by four terms. The first is
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Odysseus’ sits on a rock dwelling and longing for home: “Went to find Odysseus / in his stone seat to seaward-- Tear on tear / brimming his eyes” (Homer,85 ,lines 157-159). This agonizing longing for home is what will eventually drive him to go home as soon as he possibly can. Seeing Odysseus in this weak state reveals to us his humanity. Even if he clearly has supernatural help throughout the book, this moment emphasizes his human nature and his incapacity to reach what he longs for most, Ithaca. The moment in the book where we see Odysseus fully as himself is in Book 24 “The Great Rooted Bed”. At this point he has killed the suitors and regained his wife son and land. These aspects that define him are even stronger at this point compared to the beginning because after everything he has been though he has accomplished his ultimate goal.
Odysseus’ reunion with Penelope and assuming his responsibility as a husband is one of the key elements that define Odysseus’ true self. Even after twenty years apart from her husband, Penelope still remains faithful to Odysseus and refuses to marry one of the suitors. Her complete and utter devotion to Odysseus is what makes him assume his duty as her spouse: “Now from his breast into his eyes the ache / of longing mounted, and he wept at last, / his dear wife, clear and faithful, in his arms.” ( Homer,436, lines 259-261) As Odysseus embraces his wife, we get a feeling that a part of him is