Theme Of Family In The Odyssey

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The household in Homer’s The Odyssey can be considered the basis of Ancient Greek society, as all societal recognition and conventions stem from this unit. Any actions committed that attempt to ruin the integrity and tradition of one’s household are therefore considered severe crimes that must be wholly resolved by equally severe vengeance. Odysseus, Penelope, and Telemachus recognize the deep importance of their family household, and possess the persistent need to maintain its integrity and tradition. The gods advise these mortals in their shared struggle, even consistently intervening in their conflict to ensure that the restoration of their household is achieved, suggesting that both gods and men serve a societal order that must be preserved …show more content…
Throughout this voyage, Odysseus constantly speaks and thinks of returning home to Penelope and their son Telemachus, a thought that allows him to persist through all odds for twenty years. Odysseus’ absence from his household has left it unprotected and vulnerable to forces that might ruin its integrity, a great fear that makes his need to return home so urgent and strong, as Odysseus describes: “‘Yet, it is true, each day I long for the sight of home. If any god has marked me out again for shipwreck, my tough heart can undergo it. What hardship have I not long since endured at sea, in battle! Let the trial come’”(V.228-33). The gods also realize the massive threat Odysseus’ household is under in his absence, and thus resolve to finally direct him towards home to restore order to his household and Ithaca. The only god that objects to this is Poseidon, as he holds a grudge against Odysseus for blinding his Cyclops son, and thus causes many of the hindrances of Odysseus’ journey. However, even he realizes that Odysseus’ return is essential, and compromises with Zeus: “‘I thought Odysseus should in time regain his homeland; I had no mind to rob him of that day- no, no; you promised it, being so inclined; only I thought he should be made to suffer all the way… I should have taken vengeance, as you say, on my own; but I respect, and would avoid, your anger” (XIII.159-85). Despite his own divine will and hatred of Odysseus, Poseidon had never dared to deprive Odysseus of his homecoming, as this would have upset the will of the gods, which asserts that Odysseus must come home to restore his household. With such a destructive threat as the suitors in his home, the gods realize that Odysseus’ return must be quickened to salvage any remaining integrity and order in his house, requiring their intervention and Poseidon’s compliance.

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