The Odyssey — Journal Entry #9

November 19th, 2018

Book 22 is the climax of The Odyssey. Odysseus has just shown that he is not the average beggar by stringing the bow and shooting the arrow between the handle of the axes in book 2. This is now his time to shine. Him shooting Antinous in the throat was harsh, but I think, also necessary. Odyessus doing that really set the tone of his return. For one, Antinuous was like the ringleader of all the suitors. He was the rudest and the more persistent of them all and it was time for him to go. I’m also happy that Odysseus has now revealed himself to everyone. Him staying in disguise for so long kind of started to bother me. I understand his reasons for doing so, but I just have been anticipating the reunion of Penelope and Odysseus and I know that wasn’t going to happen until everyone knew who he was.

Book 23 was just beautiful to me. The love between Odysseus and Penelope has just been so inspiring. Their reunion was all that I was hoping it to be. Homer wrote this scene beautifully. Odysseus saying in detail how made Penelope’s bridal bed from scratch was so heartwarming. The fact that he even made her a bad scratch is heartwarming. Acts of love like this are not that common nowadays.

Book 24 was a great way to end the epic, much better than The Iliad. The Iliad left me with questions. There were so many loose ends. I didn’t know what happened to so many characters and I didn’t find out those characters’ fates until I read The Odyssey. This ending, on the other hand, wrapped up every loose end. Odysseus got to see his father, he made the sacrifice for Poseidon, and he was restored as king. Everything was put back into order, which was very satisfying.

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November 27th, 2018
Today in class we went over the final books of the Odyssey. We discussed the terms nepios and epios, and how they relate to Odysseus. Nepios means to be disconnected. Odysseus definitely started his journey off this way. He was disconnected from his men and I even think he was disconnected from his family back home in Ithaca.

At the beginning of the novel we discussed how that if Odysseus and his men had homophrosune, his journey back would have been much smoother. They were sadly disconnected which hindered Odysseus’ journey back home and killed all of his men. Odysseus and his family were disconnected because he was distracted by his love affair with Calypso. We keep saying in class that Odysseus loved Calypso but I don’t think he did at all. I think he only lusted after her. Lust can very easily be mistaken for love and since he was blinded by this lust he became disconnected from his wife and child. The only thing that saved him was his homophrosune with Penelope. It’s so strong that it was able to eventually break the bond Odysseus had with Calpyso.
As the novel continued, you can see the growth that Odysseus made in learning how to be more connected. The best example of this is when he returned home. He became more careful about his actions and how they impacted everyone around him. We said in class that epios means to be connected and gentle. Gentle meaning giving. Odysseus became connected with his son by sharing interests with him, one being their desire to get rid of the suitors. Gaining this epios has turned Odysseus into a great leader. He can now make wiser decisions that benefit more than just him. That can be seen in him keeping up his beggar disguise for as long as he did and only telling a select few his true identity.

As a part of this discussion, we said that the things that our parents pass down to us are an example of their epios to us. For me, my mom made sure that my sister and I knew how to clean before we even got to middle school. It is a stereotypical duty of a woman but us knowing that life skill made her feel like she had prepared us for life, which in a sense, it did.

We also discussed the similarities Black Panther has to the Odyssey. After taking this class, I have seen that The Odyssey can be applied to many modern day movies. Black Panther relates to The Odyssey because they both are stories of a cathodos, the return of a king. T’challa went through many of the same things that Odysseus went through to secure there throne. Both were given the throne but had to go on a journey to truly to be suited for the throne. They both had someone vying for their position but in the end, they reclaimed their title. Just like Wakanda was a better place with T’challa as king, Ithaca is a better place with Odysseus as king. No one else has experienced as much as he has and when ruling others, the experience is an essential thing to have.

As the class continued we talked about the deeper connection between Penelope and Odysseus’ reunion. It took the class a while to get it but once we did it made a lot of sense. We’ve said in an earlier class that you don’t have to go on a physical journey with someone to have homophrosune with them. That’s exactly what’s happening between Penelope and Odysseus in their reunion. Throughout the whole epic I never really took into consideration the mental journey that Penelope was going through. She went through just as much as Odysseus and I didn’t even realize. Her battles with the suitors were equivalent to Odysseus’ ten stop journey.

Lastly, in class, we discussed, which epic was better: The Iliad or The Odyssey? I have to say The Odyssey. I could not relate to The Iliad at all and I found it quite upsetting. I didn’t see the point in the majority of the battles going on. I also was upset with Achilles majority of the time because he was being ridiculous for not fighting in the war. He caused so many unnecessary problems. At least in The Odyssey, everything that happened had a purpose. Everything came full circle.

We made the distinction in class that those who choose The Odyssey are the most impactful considers themselves to be a lover more so than a fighter. That truly describes me. I like to keep the peace in situations and I’d much rather read a love story than a war story.

Another reason I chose The Odyssey is that I see my parents in Odysseus and Penelope. My parents have been married for 31 years and they are basically the same person. Their homophrosune is off the charts. It’s like they read each other’s mind. My parents have also been on a journey together but apart at the same time, just like Odysseus and Penelope. My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer about two years ago. Battling through cancer is something you have to do yourself but there is always someone next to you. That was my dad for my mom but even though he was right there, they each have different experiences from the same journey. However, they got through it together and their relationship is stronger than ever. Just like Odysseus and Penelope.

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Final Journal Entry: November 28th, 2018
I have to say that I came into this course very skeptical. I never thought that I would like Greek mythology and therefore I thought I wasn’t going to be able to connect to this course. However, I was greatly surprised. I have learned so much from this course, and not all of it is about Greek literature. I have seen in these past few months that so much of life, in general, can be applied to Greek literature. I find myself casually bringing up these two epics up in conversation a lot, which surprises me. I would love to take another course on the classics. I also liked the discussion aspect of this class a lot. I think we fear of Greek mythology stemmed from me not being able to understand it. The class discussions made the concepts simpler to grasp and I really appreciated it.

After reading both The Iliad and The Odyssey, I would say that the overall theme is homophrosune and the difficulties that arise when there is no homophrosune. The Iliad showcased how much war and fighting is present when no one is on the same page. The Greeks and the Trojans fought for 10 years because they could not see eye to eye and they did not respect each other. The Odyssey showcased the beauty that is possible when there is homophrosune. Odysseus still went through his tough times thoug. The whole premise of the epic is that Odysseus and Posideon did not see eye to eye on a situation and therefore Posideon made Odysseus’ life harder. However, once that homophrosune was restored Odysseus was promised peace for the rest of his life. He had homophrosune with his family and the love they have for each other is so unconditional and beautiful to witness. These epics have taught me the importance of homophrosune in life. 
Not being on the same page with someone causes so many unnecessary problems in your life. My goal in life is to live as peacefully as Odysseus did after he returned and killed all the suitors. I want that peace.