Homer’s “The Odyssey”

Homer’s “The Odyssey”, is a timeless epic poem written between 900 B.C.E- 700 B.C.E. It tells the story of a great hero, Odysseus, who left to fight the Trojan War for 10 years and didn’t return home until 20 years later due to varied trials and tribulations. In the same years before the development of the first complete alphabet, the Greeks practiced oral storytelling in the form of what they call barbs. In Ancient Greece, barbs where singers who would entertain the people through songs. The songs they sung were usually based on an historical event in the country. It is said that Homer himself was indeed a barb. However, overtime as the alphabet was invented various people recorded his songs on paper and created what we now know as The Odyssey. Divided into 24 Books, Homer explores many different themes such as gender roles, hospitality, loyalty and vengeance. The most recurring theme throughout the books are family and loyalty. While Husbands were not always loyal to wives, Fathers and sons were always loyal to each other and this is seen in the relationships between Laertes and Odysseus, Odysseus and Telemachus, and Poseidon and Polyphemus.

Author, Roland Warren once said, “A boy has a hole in his soul in the shape of his father… if his father is unable or unwilling to fill this hole, it can leave a wound that is not easily healed.” In the present day, a typical father and son relationship is in nowhere comparable to that of the Greeks. Laertes, the father of Odysseus was once a king in the city state of Ithaca. That is, until he learned of the disappearance of his loved son, Odysseus. In a conversation between Telemachus and Eumaeus, the loyal shepherd, we learn of the state that Laertes was currently in. As Eumaeus reported to Telemachus he states, “Should I go the same way to Laertes also, and tell him the news…he hasn’t been eating or drinking as before or overseeing the fields. He just sits and groans…” (Homer, Book XVI, 151-153). It is evident that the father and son relationship between Laertes and Odysseus is on solid footing. Laertes gave up his palace to live in the outskirts of Ithaca because he did not want to be easily reminded of his son. However, moving away was not a healthy way to cope with the problem with the pain, as it eventually led to him not eating or drinking to survive. Upon Odysseus return to Ithaca he disguised himself as a beggar only revealing himself to those who remained loyal to him, one being his father. Laertes is the seen crying tears of joys at the sight of his son whom he loved a lot. This clearly shows, that a father’s love for his son is eternal because even after 20 years of not seeing his Odysseus, old Laertes still stands with him.