Concealment and Disguises in Homer's Odyssey
Did you know, that although caves, and disguises play a small literal role in The Odyssey, are major symbols, and sometimes even considered archetypes? Sometimes when quickly reading through a book, one does not pick up on the symbolic interpretation of many images created throughout the book. A man named Homer wrote The Odyssey around 800 B.C. The story was a Greek epic poem, illustrating the struggle of Odysseys, the hero, to return home. He had gone to a war in Troy, leaving his family behind. Upon his return, his hubris angered the gods of Olympus, and they delayed his journey home 10 years. Throughout the story Athena, the goddess of wisdom, aids Odysseus. She intercedes
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The fist universal meaning of a symbolic cave is a polar feeling of either attraction or repulsion toward the earth itself as a universal womb-tomb (Seigneuret 222). Caves are a place of birth to religious figures such as the Buddha, Dionysus, and even Zeus in some stories (David 344). It is important to note that these figures are also nurtured in the symbolic cave. Therefore if the spiritual power of light cannot overcome the cave, it is devoured and destroyed; the womb becomes tomb (Seigneuret 327). A vivid incident of this account in The Odyssey was at Polyphemus' Cave (Homer Book IX Line 287-295). In this episode, Polyphemus eats Odysseus' men. The interpretation of this is that obviously these men were born in a home, which is a parallel to a birthplace cave (womb), but were killed in a cave because Odysseus' hubris, not his intellect (light) failed, by actually going into the cave. Therefore, Polyphemus killed his men (tomb), providing a representation of the universal meaning of a cave as the womb to tomb. This is the fist general symbol of the mysticism of a cave.
The second universal meaning was introduced by Homer in The Odyssey and then expanded and explained by Plato. Caves are metaphors for cosmos in the face of chaos because they are usually enclosed, protective places like temples and walled cities (David 345). The term "cosmos," therefore means order and