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Odysseus Refusal To Accept Calypsos Offer English Literature Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 1602 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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In this essay I would like to consider the implications of Odysseus’ refusal to accept Calypso’s offer of immortality and what it means to be human. Moreover, I would like to compare this issue with the situation of Achilles in the Iliad. To begin with it should be noted that both Odyssey and Iliad are immortal poems of outstanding Ancient Greece poet Homer and in both these poems consider the life and exploits of great heroes like Odysseus and Achilles. It can be said that Odysseus in Greek mythology was the king of Ithaca and famous participant of the Trojan War, the clever and resourceful orator. Also, Odysseus is one of the key characters of the Iliad, the hero of the poem “The Odyssey” that tells of long years of wandering and returns of Odysseus to his homeland. As a matter of fact, Odysseus was distinguished not only courage but also a sly, quirky mind person. In turn, Achilles – is the bravest of the heroes in the heroic sagas of the ancient Greeks that have taken under the leadership of Agamemnon expedition against Troy. He was half-god and was the protagonist of the Iliad.

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It should be noted that nymph Calypso, who lives among the rustling of the sea on a remote island, really glad Odyssey, that was brought by the storm. She has charm and make Odysseus forget about his homeland, but, she attracts the Odysseus not only by women’s charms – for him, in order not to aspire to his Ithaca, Calypso unattainably promises eternal youth and immortality. However, Odysseus withstands this difficult test. It should be noted that the ancient heroes expected nothing from the world, but most glory and did not appreciate life. Moreover, motto of their lives was following: “for descendants remember for the long time their heroism and glory”. Very interesting is the fact, that before arriving to Calypso’s island, Odysseus visited the dark country of Hades, where he saw the shadow of Achilles. During this meeting Achilles said that if it were possible, he would agree to serve the some poor person than being here in Hades with other souls. Therefore, Calypso can not understand why Odysseus rejected eternal life and decided to build a raft and continue his wandering to his homeland in dangerous noisy sea.

In my opinion, to demonstrate the irresistible pull of Odysseus back home to his beloved wife and son, Homer needed some unusually attractive image and dizzying invincible temptation. Without any doubts this image is embodied in the person of bright nymph Calypso. On the beautiful island with goddess Calypso Odysseus spent seven happy years. As a fact, Calypso loved Odysseus, like mortals do and decided to present him immortality and to tie with the bonds of marriage. It can be said that she took care of and loved the ill-fated hero after he experienced a shipwreck and finds that he belongs to her. Unfortunately, she must submit to Zeus and the other gods and let him to decide where he wants to spend his life. Without any doubt, Homer compares Odysseus power of love to Ithaca and his family with the most powerful temptation – immortality. Calypso promises to give him eternal life – it is the culmination of a long series of obstacles and temptations, which filled the path of Odysseus returning home. Before meeting with Calypso, all the temptations that arose on the path of Odysseus were absolutely human nature, but the promise of the nymph – was royal gift. As a fact, Odysseus was offered the fate of the god, and instead requires that he preferred Ogygia to rocky Ithaca, and Calypso – to Penelope. Thinking about this difficult choice he stands and cries. What is he crying about? What could be more expensive than the immortality and eternal youth? I presume that he crying because of his obligations to himself return home, to the wife and son. Of course, he spent seven wonderful years with beautiful Calypso, but he has duty, which takes the first place. He decided to hit the road – a way in which it henceforth to meet cyclops, storms, death threats and obstacles, and he needs to overcome all these barriers to achieve a lean rocky Ithaca and find his own house.

Further I would like to consider what this magic Ithaca has, which caused him to neglect the youth and immortality. In my opinion, Odysseus is ready to discover something more important and wonderful, rather than the immortality and eternal youth – he seeks to accomplish this mysterious circle of moral quest. He has already seen the light to the bottom: we are all humans and we must be there, where we love and where we are loved. I presume that Odysseus understands that the power of love is more important than the desire of youth and immortality. Moreover, Odysseus understands that he is human and do not want to become immortal, because for him immortality – is reunion with his beloved wife and son, with his homeland Ithaca.

I think that Ithaca for Odysseus is the small warm circle of the motherland, family and predetermined possibility to embrace a wider circle of friends, to accept and understand his ancestors, villages, towns, humanity, peace, immortality and eternal youth. After all, as we know, love and death are with us from the cradle. Before we experience death, the strongest and the most powerful our experience has always been love, the ability to love and be loved.

Invisible, but unbroken chain of love Odysseus feels for the whole twenty years of his journey, and now he faced with a dilemma. As a fact, Calypso loves him with all her heart. Of course, she was not just a road novel for Odysseus. It should be noted that here Homer draws us into the depths of feelings, which is the whole Odysseus’s problem. Moreover, Odysseus did not know that Penelope was faithful to him all these twenty years. He does not know for sure about it, and maybe she has already been married with another person, who ruled his kingdom. But, despite all these possibilities he continues to believe in his Penelope, that she still is his queen. Without any doubts Odysseus continues to believe in the loyalty of the Penelope and this believe is supports him, gives him the strength to carry all the difficulties of the path and still get to his beloved. I think Odysseus decides to sail from Calypso for his native land, for his older, but still beautiful Penelope, for the sake of his old father, for the sake of his young son, for the sake of his homeland. As a fact, Ithaca is the beginning and the end of the path, and he must accomplish it. In other words, everyone knows the joy and sweetness of travel, freedom, but only Odysseus is given the opportunity to know the grace of return, the happiness of duty, of loyalty.

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In the second part of the essay I would like consider what it was to be human for another great Ancient Greek hero – Achilles. Without any doubts, Achilles was the bravest and the strongest of heroes, solely by his personal qualities. It is interesting to know that his mother goddess Thetis has predicted that Achilles had two choices. The first – do not participate in the war with Troy, find a wife and live quiet long life, and also, to raise children. The second – is to take active participation in the war, where he will be glorified that people until the end of time will remember his great feats. However, his life will be short and he will not return from this war. It should be noted that Achilles decided to go to the war and forever remain in history as the greatest of hero ever known. That is why he went to war with the Trojans. In fact, Achilles was not interested in the reasons of the conflict and fate of Helen and Menelaus; he took part in the Trojan War pursuits his own goal – fame.

I presume that to be human for Achilles was not enough, he wanted to be immortal. Of course he was the son of goodness, but only in a half – his father was human. Consequently, he can not pretend to be immortal. In my opinion that was the main reason why he, despite the prophecy, took part in the war in Troy. Despite everything, Achilles wanted to be immortal, and he achieved his goal. Even today, after approximately 3500 years people remember this outstanding hero, on par with Greek gods. I think that he found the best way to become immortal – to remain in history. Even today people carefully keep the legends about his deeds. I believe that if Achilles has the same chance to become immortal, than Odysseus had – he would take it.

It can be said that these famous heroes were friends, but they were very different. As a fact, the following question arises: why Achilles would become immortal, but Odysseus did not take this opportunity? In my opinion, the answer is simple – love. It should be noted that unlike Achilles, Odysseus experienced love. He truly loved his Penelope and their son Telemachus and this love helped him to understand that this is something more important than life or fame – this is love. Unfortunately, Achilles consciously rejected the path of love and chose the road to fame. Was he right or wrong – it is not for me to judge him. As a fact, Achilles has chosen his path and achieved his goals. What I can certainly say – is about that Homer gives us to understand how these two great heroes have had different objectives. I strongly believe that this underlines the fact that, above all, they were humans, and like all humans they have made a choice how to live their lives.


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