Homer_paper - 1 Professor Behnegar Western Cultural...

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1 Professor Behnegar Western Cultural Tradition 9 October 2007 Gods’ Lust Compared to Mortal Love When Homer first introduces Odysseus in The Odyssey , he has spent the past seven years of his life with the goddess Calypso. However, no matter how good Calypso is to Odysseus, he still longs to return home to his mortal wife, Penelope. This longing brings out how different the relationships humans have with each other are from the relationships mortals have with gods. Humans really love each other, while gods only have infatuations with humans and cannot experience true love. Although Odysseus is married to Penelope on Ithaca and even has a son, Telemachus, he spends seven years with Calypso alone on her island. He is kept captive, but she treats him well, giving him a nice place to stay and bountiful food. Homer tells his audience, “…the nymph set out before [Odysseus] every kind of food and drink that mortal men will take…” (5. 217-218). Odysseus seems to be living a wonderful life with Calypso, with everything provided for him. Calypso is kind to him and life on the island Ogygia appears to be paradise. However, life with Calypso is not perfect. She is not merely practicing good hospitality, but forcing Odysseus to be her lover and trying to make him her husband. Calypso promises Odysseus a life of pleasure and paradise, and even offers immortality and agelessness so they can be together forever. It is understandable, then, that Odysseus is not happy on Ogygia, even after seven years of what seems like a good life, and longs instead to return home to Penelope. As he tells the Phaecians, “…the goddess took me in…cherished me, even vowed to make me immortal, ageless…but she never won the heart inside me…” (7. 294-297). Odysseus appears to
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2 be making a big mistake by choosing the mortal Penelope over the goddess Calypso. He even tells Calypso that Penelope does not match her in beauty or wonder. Nevertheless, he is not satisfied with Ogygia, and continually wishes to continue on his journey. Odysseus does not follow what would appear to be a logical or at least reasonable trend, that of staying with Calypso and living in bliss forever. Instead, he is seen crying, longing to be released from Calypso’s island and sent back to Ithaca for a reunion with his wife. This is not how most people would respond when offered a life of immortality and paradise. It seems as though Odysseus is not appreciative of the chance he has been given. After almost ten years, there is definitely a possibility that Odysseus might never return home, so it seems almost crazy not to accept Calypso’s offers. In fact, the muse talking to Homer says how “…the nymph no longer pleased…” (5. 1 70), which implies that Calypso did please Odysseus at one point. It is possible in fact that he considers at first he may never return home, and plans on settling for a life with Calypso. After seven years, though, he seems to realize that whatever Calypso can offer
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This note was uploaded on 06/06/2008 for the course HP 001 taught by Professor Behnegar during the Fall '07 term at BC.

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Homer_paper - 1 Professor Behnegar Western Cultural...

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