Despite the popularity and success imputed to the epics of the Odyssey, its authorship still presents a mystery to scientists though it is generally alleged that the author should be some Greek bard named Homer. The starting point of the Odyssey is the fall of Troy and continues as the travel home by the hero Odysseus which lasts ten years. The Odyssey is the story of roam full of adventures occurring on fantastic lands. The narration switches from Odysseus and his fellows to his kingdom in Ithaca.
His wife Penelope lives waiting him among importunate suitors who are constantly trying to woo Penelope but she remained faithful to her husband and became the symbol of fidelity. His son, Telemachus, cannot stand such situation and Athena decides to help him. At the same time one of the suitors plans to kill Telemachus as he is the only heir to the throne for they don’t know that Odysseus is still alive. Odysseus himself is imprisoned by Calypso, a nymph who loved him, but he wants to return to his wife. The gods help him to escape Calypso’s island.
When traveling home he gets into sea storm sent by Poseidon as revenge for his son Cyclops blinded by Odysseus but again Athena comes to help him and he lands at Scheria, kingdom of Phaeacians who promise him to take to Ithaca but before his relates them his adventures. When Odysseus reaches his palace he appears disguised as a beggar and only his old nurse recognizes him. Penelope suspecting that this mysterious old man may be her husband decides to arrange a contest in which as she is sure only her Odysseus can win.
Indeed it happened exactly in this way and he together with his son kills all betrayers. For the last time arrives Athena to restore peace in Odysseus’s kingdom and Odysseus starts new calm life with his family. The story contains several symbolic things which reveal certain traditions and signs present at the ancient Greek society. Thus food in the Odyssey represents weak discipline and yield to temptation in cases when Odysseus was delayed in Cyclops’ cave and his men killed the Sun’s flocks or when they consumed lotus fruits.
Moreover, to create a disgusting image of suitors Homer makes them constantly eating and even before Odysseus kills them all they are found having dinner. Another example is Scylla who devours Odysseus’s men, one for each of her six head. The Cyclops consumes people and is characterized as an extremely greedy creature. In the cases with monsters as well as with suitors gluttony conveys not just absence of self-control, but rather the absence of civilized manners. Another symbol in the epics is the wedding bed which symbolizes the permanency of Odysseus’s marriage with Penelope.
This bed is hidden from strangers’ eyes and only they can come into the bedroom. This symbolic device is intensified in the scene where Penelope wants to try Odysseus and plays trick with him which is related to the immovability of their bed. Thus this bed is used in metaphorical meaning for steadfast base of their devoted love. Though the main character and majority of other characters are males, women also play very important role in the Odyssey. One of the most prominent their roles is seductress.
There is the whole array of them, take for example Circe and Calypso, whose love served as the obstacle which had to be overcome on Odysseus’ way to home. The Sirens bewitch sailors with their songs. And even Penelope uses her feminine charm to suit one’s own ends. While all these female characters succeed in gaining what they strive for, they are doomed to wait for love when it is not there. Almost three millenniums have elapsed since the Odyssey was composed, it still remain to be the most famous and most often read narratives.
Reference: Homer “The Odyssey” Longman Anthology World Literature Voulme1, 402-454