Epic Parallels?

May 18, 2009
By
Did the ancient Greek society have the same problems as people do today? Were the people of ancient times struggling with keeping populations under control? There are many reasons, reprsented in stories, to assume that the Greeks did have the same types of problems as society does now. Homer's epic poem The Odyssey, seems to show how the flaws in human nature of the past and present are parallel.

In the episode "The Cyclops," the Cyclops represents the trouble that can come with bullying. Odysseus and his men go to the Cyclops's cave expecting to be treated with hospitality; however, the Cyclops grabs a few men "like squirming puppies/ to beat their brains out, splattering the floor" (9.279-280). Sometimes a bully seems to be someone trustworthy, like the Cyclops, or someone that wouldn't be likely to hurt someone. For example, it might be hard to believet that certain children are bullies, but when people see their terrible actions and rude behavior it becomes more clear. Also, adults can be considered bullies. Some adults that might have a first imprsession of being kind and generous could show their true behavior at work or around friends.

Also, in "The Cattle of the Sun God" and "Calypso, the Sweet Nymph," Homer shows how temptation can be a flaw in human nature. Odysseus warns his starving men that the sacred cattle on the island "are not for our provision, / or we pay dearly for it," even thought they are the only source of food (12.855-856). When Odysseus is away, the men give into their hunger and eat the cows, only to be killed by the gods. The men knew that eating the cows would have consequences; however, they were tempted with the idea of a good meal so the men disobeyed their leader and were destroyed. in "Calypso," Odysseus is tempted with the idea of living forever with a beautiful, new wife. Instead of giving in to the temptation, he is able to resist the idea and go back to his loyal family. These two events can parallel to modern times because people nowadays are often tempted to do things that could lead to punishment in the future. Humans always feel that they need something bigger or better than what they have, so they will give into the temptation to receive their wishes. Cheating on a loved on is an example of giving into temptation because the person might want someone more beautiful or different than who they know. Also, playing a trick on someone can be an example of temptation because a person might want to see another react to a difficult situation.

Finally, "The Lotus Eaters" shows how dangerous addiction can be. Those who ate the lotus flower "longed to stay forever, browsing on/ that native bloom, forgetful of their homeland" (9.209-210). The eaters became addicted and forgot everyting in life, exept for eating the flowers. Addiction exists today, but in much different forms than flowers. There are many addictive drugs that can be harmful to the users health. Cigarettes and other tobacco products are some of these drugs. With tobacco products, the more they are used, the harder it is to stop using them. They can lead to differnet cancers or other chronic and fatal diseases. People can also be addicted to day to day activities, like using electronics. They can waste time using the electronics and spending mooney on more electronic advancements. All, and all, addiction is not a good characteristic.

Based on Homer's writings, the ancient Greeks had the same problems as today. Homer uses the people in Odysseus's adventures to represent the flaws in his society. Maybe the reason why The Odyssey is such a classic is because people are able to compare themselves and others around them to the ancient Greeks.





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