Western Literature 101: Agony Of Lost Desires Cries Silently On Poseidon's Hammock


Western Literature 101 articles serve as one of the academic courses in the field of English Language and Literature. The course which is a fundamental guide within the scope of general knowledge compared to the technical knowledge of English literature also addresses the readership besides students. With this goal in mind, the author has opted to write the article in very plain and basic English to convey just the necessary understanding of Western literature by making the article merely an outline introduction. Western Literature 101 is mainly divided into five chapters including; 1. Introduction to the Western Literature: Gilgamesh The First Epic Poem 2. The Creation of Western Literature: Old Testament & Hebrews 3. Benchmark of Western Literature: Winning A Battle Losing The War At The Phalanx Of Homer's Retention Of West 4. Evaluation of Western Literature: Agony Of Lost Desires Cries Silently On Poseidon's Hammock

5. Western Roots of Comedy : Greek Comedy

6. Western Roots of Tragedy : Greek Tragedy

7. Tragedy of Western Literature: Fall of Troy & Birth of Rome

The subject of, Agony Of Lost Desires Cries Silently On Poseidon's Hammock, will consist of a subject area of Iliad and mainly Odessy. The poetic organization of each of these two epics, the subtle interrelationship of the parts, which creates their structural and emotional unity suggests that they owe their present form to the shaping hand of a single poet, from the enormous wealth of the oral tradition perhaps with the aid of the new medium of writing, the two magnificently ordered poem is known as the Iliad and Odyssey. Within this article of the series, one would have a better understanding of the cruciality of Iliad - Odessy in the history of Western Literature and how it shaped the future western literature movements as also it carries an evolutionary stage for Greek literature.

Penelope - Then during the day she wove the large web which at night she unravelled - The Odyssey is a painting by Thomas Seddon which was uploaded on April 7th, 2019.

The war never finishes even after the smokes of fire, bloodstains on swords and spears, even if mother’s tears wipe away, it always leaves its mark for a long time. Homer’s other epic, The Odyssey, is born out of its concern with the peace that followed after the end of the war. A return within particular with the return of survivors of the war; return of the heroes who are left from the war of wrath. The main subject in this epic is focused on one hero who returned from the bloody war, Odysseus of Ithaca whose journey took him 10 years of being lost with adventures at unknown seas before his coming back to his rocky kingdom. When Achilles had already united with the hands of Apollo, Odysseus’s wandering began. His long experience at war with his versatile intelligence keeps him alive during his trials and dangers of 20 years of seafaring and bloody war. Life’s brutal expectations must be overthrown by him by following a path that Achilles tried to avoid. This was the only way for him to succeed.

To understand the true nature of work, one must focus on its origins/earlier works. In the topic of Greek war and culture, Iliad carried critical importance for shaping the Greek culture in its early stages, although that is true, what makes Odyssey's place cannot be ignored for the evolvement of this process. What makes Odyssey story unique to Iliad, is that the way the hero, Odysseus changes with the actions that he suffers and accepts to ruin his pride or even his identity as he would do things that Achilles would never have done and use ingenuity and experiences that he never did possess. When the one looks at Iliad, the thing that takes the attraction is how an angry god-like warrior is trying to take back the woman he loved but here, there is a much more complicated and different journey with different meanings as it can be seen from Odysseus’s archetypal adventures to go back to his home. When looked at from a different angle what can also be seen is how a lost soldier dwells to survive in mythological challenges and while doing that it can be seen that survival is not only about fighting against mythological creatures to survive but also to redeem the psychological guilt feeling that the main character still embraces due to Post-traumatic stress disorder Odysseus faces after the war. All these take place after a bloody Trojan war and how he is trying to set things straight for himself before going back home. Maybe Odysseus is trying to forget what he witnessed on the battlefield and he thinks that he is stuck in the purgatory of his own ethical stoicism. He has seen from the vicious crazy acts of Achilles and Odysseus is trying to change himself into a better man. Maybe wants to prove himself that he is not a guy who leads them to victory in the wrong manner full way as Achilles did. While it can be seen that, Achilles' war on personal matters, one can see a more mature leader here as Odysseus takes care of his men rather than stepping aside with damaging his fellows as Achilles did.

The Meeting of Odysseus and Nausicaa, 1640 is a painting by Jacob Jordaens which was uploaded on February 26th, 2019.

He is a man of honor and he wants to preserve and complete the heroic reputation he deserved at the war in Troy. When one looks at Odysseus it can also be seen how ironic he conceals his name; a victim of enmity, as he uses his intelligence and power to trick/disguise himself to Cyclops as nobody and to his wife as a beggar with his shiftiness in talent; a master of deception as plain lying showed that in the text in following pages. It can also be seen how he becomes a dangerous man not only for his friends but also for his enemies. It is started to be seen that, Odysseus being questioned in terms of his mental skills and determination later, by Poseidon. The Lotus flower proposes forgetfulness of home and family while their adventures on the voyage home test these mental qualities with also testing physical endurance tempting to lapse from the struggle homeward. Odysseus is later offered love from Circe by following the Siren’s call for flourishing past they call for Odysseus. His determination being questioned by Calypso with immortality offer which Odysseus chooses to become like a man who bore within the evitable end. Rather than Achilles' fate, his fate is a different kind of journey in which he travels underworld to see how bad actually reigning in the hell by Achilles, struggles he is having. At the stage of tragedy, there are the heroes of the two great epics who confront one another over the chasm of death. What created European literature’s afterlife picture with dark and comfortless by Homer’s land of the dead. Later what it will be seen that while Odysseus could get life long and glory, Achilles was destined to have only one.

The Return of Odysseus. early 1800s. Nicolas Andre Monsiau. French 1754-1837. oil/canvas.

Odysseus's adventures end and his journey reach his home. For the entire second half of the poem, Odysseus is not back at home, Ithaca. It can be seen the social order is being restored after Odysseus’s return to home but not right after his arrival. Another point where it can be seen, Penelope’s dealing with her suitors, her son, and at the end beggar who is actually Odysseus in disguise. As a woman in Greek culture, she had to think of herself and find housebound as in Homeric and later Greek Culture; a woman as the head of the household was an unthinkable idea for the patriarchal system until the 18th Century by the Enlightenment Era. She was in need to find a husband so as not to disobey societal norms due to being single but if her husband Odysseus returned and she was found as married she would be discriminated again. She waited for him for more than 20 years and it was a sufficient time for re-marriage. She decided to play a suitable role for husband game which would delay the Suitors until she agrees that her husband would never return. It is not easy to criticize or understand Penelope’s challenging figure as Homer does not give full access to her thoughts and motives during the poem. In order not to betray her husband nor be seen as like that to society she keeps playing with suitors.

“Odysseus Kills the Suitors” by Bela Čikoš Sesija (before 1931) via Lance Mannion.

She promised suitors to choose one of them when she had finished a shroud for Odysseus's father and for three years she involved each night what she had woven by day so that she could keep the suitors as much as she could. She was a character in dilemma who had to play the available wife and also at the same time loyal wife. Odysseus evidently interpreted this trick of her to stay single so the authority at home retrospectively arranged potentially elements within the patriarchal order. Penelope’s strong presence and effort should not be overlooked as she protected autonomy while she controlled the timing and means of her husband's return. During suitors of Penelope's marriage trials, she did show her power when she added weapon testing and got the bow to her husband's hand. This creates a mystery that may not be answered, when the beggar assures her that Odysseus is about to return, she still pushes her luck with him.

Taking everything into account, after 750-700 B.C. Greek culture and city style changed with Homer’s writings. It is still foggy that what made people look for society and lose the cuts with individualism with Iliad or Odyssey is unknown but the problems of violence and order in this poem are also can be interpreted as political instability after the war in the Greek world. The journey that Odysseus has taken showed that not every hero has to end with a tragic fall as Achilles did and redemption of one's flaws can create character development for even the hardest and loneliest hero. Within this epic, western literature acquired a literary movement of redemption to one's not only sins but also psychological feelings which will shape many more works after Odyssey.

Sources Used In This Article

  • Lawall, S. N., & MacK, M. (1999). Norton Anthology of World Masterpieces: The Western Tradition, Vol. 1: Literature of Western Culture Through the Renaissance (7th ed., Vol. 1). W W Norton & Co Inc.

  • Rana Smith, Z. (2019). ELIT 105 Introdcution To Western Literature (Fisrt ed., Vol. 1). Yeditepe University.

Author Photo

Doğukan Ejder

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