Topics for essays on the Iliad or the Odyssey

Topics for essays on the Iliad or the Odyssey- Assignment Help

The power of cunning over strength

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The Iliad is all about strength; The Odyssey is all about cunning. This difference is evident in the first lines of The Odyssey. The Iliad is about Achilles’ rage, which made him the most powerful Greek hero. The Odyssey, however, focuses on the Odyssey’s “man of twists, turns” (1.1). Odysseus is a man of extraordinary strength. He proves it in Book 21 when he shows that he can string a bow. His encounters show that he is more dependent on his mind than his muscles. He is aware that he can’t overpower Polyphemus and that even if he could, he would not be able move the boulder from the entrance. Po1yphemus’s stupidity is his way of getting around his weakness in strength. He does not use violence to remove Polyphemus’s one eye.

Odysseus also knows that he cannot compete with the young, sexy suitors living in his palace. So he uses his other strength, his wits. He creates a situation where he is the only one armed and all of his suitors are locked together in a room. This setup would allow Achilles to achieve what Odysseus did. However, only Odysseus can make such a victory possible with his formidable abilities as a soldier. Odysseus’s lengthy, wandering ordeal seems to mock strength. For example, no one can resist the Sirens song but Odysseus is able to hear the beautiful melody from his crew by having them tie him up. Although Scylla, Charybdis are impossible to beat, Odysseus is able to minimize his losses through prudent decision-making as well as careful navigation. Odysseus’s encounter in the underworld with Achilles is a reminder that Achilles was not able to win great kleos (or glory) but his life was short and ended violently. Odysseus on the other hand will live to an old age due to his intelligence and is set to die peacefully.

The Pitfalls of Temptation

Ajax, the “Lesser Ajax”, a relative unimportant figure that Odysseus does not meet in Hades, performed the first act that thwarted many Achaeans’ homecoming. He raped Cassandra, the Trojan priestess, in a temple as the Greeks plunder the city. This act of stupidity, immorality, and impulse brought Athena’s wrath upon the Achaean fleet. It set off a series of events that made Odysseus’s homecoming a nightmare. The Odyssey is inspired by this event because many of the obstacles faced by Odysseus’ men are also caused mortal weakness and inability to control them. Obligation to recklessness or temptation can anger the gods and distract Odysseus or his crew from their journey. They give in to hunger and slaughter Sun’s flocks. Then they eat lotus fruit and forget about their homes.

Even Odysseus’s craving for kleos can be considered a form of temptation. It is when he gives Polyphemus his name that he submits, which brings Poseidon’s wrath on him and his men. The theme of the Sirens is retold only for its own sake. The crew members are able to sail by the Sirens island safely with their ears plugged. Odysseus longs to hear the Sirens sweet song but is saved by his wise command to his crew to keep his mast bound. Homer’s fascination with Odysseus is evident in his depiction of his protagonist being tempted by temptation.

Divine Justice

Zeus, in The Odyssey, explains his vision for justice. He says that while the gods do their best to alleviate suffering, some mortals are more affected by their wicked or unwise actions. After killing several Odysseus men, Polyphemus is left blind. When Odysseus orders his men to not kill the Cattle of the Sun, they die. The poem’s most dramatic incident is when the suitors are executed for insulting Odysseus. However, it is debatable whether the murder of the suitors was just. Odysseus believes that Amphinomus is the victim. Odysseus is willing to risk his cover to warn Amphinomus of the danger to his health: “I say that he’s right by you–and may some power spare you.” However, Amphinomous was also killed along with the rest.

The Odyssey also shows that gods put their own pride before justice in other instances. The Odyssey is concerned about the moral code that requires hosts to treat travelers and strangers kindly. Zeus is known to punish anyone who breaks this code throughout the poem. Zeus doesn’t protect the Phaeacians, even though Poseidon complains that they have offended him by offering hospitality to Odysseus. The Phaeacians provide shelter for Odysseus, as well as restoring all of his wealth and allowing him to travel home to Ithaca. The Phaecians are good hosts and help Odysseus not out of a desire to defeat Poseidon. They don’t know they are offending Poseidon by helping guests when they do their duty. Zeus supports Poseidon’s plan for preventing the Phaecians ever from helping travelers again. Zeus states that Poseidon can “Do whatever you like” in order to punish the Phaeacians. Zeus, in assuring justice for his fellow god, denies justice the innocent Phaeacians.

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