Essay #1 Final - Mou 1 Emily Mou L&S R44: 108 October...

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Mou 1 Emily Mou October 10, 2007 Jacob and Odysseus: The Beloved Tricksters Although being labeled as a cunning trickster may seem to bear rather negative connotations, it is evident from foundational works of Western literature that one must possess some amount of craftiness in order to survive in the world. As shown through the stories of Jacob and Odysseus, two individuals forever immortalized by the Western civilization of which they are the basis of, even slyness and deceiving cannot measure up to the blessing of the favor of the gods. Although the narratives of Jacob and Odysseus come from very different cultural backgrounds with a wide span of time between the two eras, both characters are surprisingly similar in personality traits and have both undertaken long journeys away from home, although for very different reasons. The characters of Jacob and Odysseus are both cunning, crafty figures highly favored by their respective gods, yet they have learned very different lessons during their absence. Even though both Jacob and Odysseus are loved by their divine superiors, they are chosen for very different reasons. As the favored brother of the Hebrew god, Jacob was loved by God even when he was still in the womb, as He revealed to Rebekah ‘the older will serve the younger” (Genesis 25:23b). Although the favoring of the younger son over the older seems to be a trend in the family lines of Genesis, as shown by Cain and Abel, Joseph and his brothers, and Ephraim and Manasseh, it must also be noticed that God may have favored Jacob over Esau because of Esau’s disobedience to God’s marriage laws, as he did not truly understand “how displeasing the Canaanite women were” (Genesis 28: 8). Thus, even though Jacob’s character is
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Mou 2 not as straightforward and righteous as his predecessors, God still favors Jacob over Esau and chooses him to be the forefather of his nation of Israel. Jacob receives God’s favor through the downfall of his brother. On the other hand, the favor Odysseus incurs from the gods is through his cunning intelligence as well as his standing as a superb warrior. Although Odysseus is well liked by most of the gods, he is especially loved by Athena, “the goddess deeply moved by the man’s long ordeal” (Homer 5.6). As Athena is the goddess of wisdom and war and Odysseus is superior in both aspects, it is not a wonder he is chosen as her beloved one. She delights in Odysseus’ sharp wit and spurs on the actions of the other gods in order to help Odysseus complete his nostos . As the beloved human of one’s god or gods, divine help is readily given when circumstances take a turn for the worse and human actions may prove futile. Even when Jacob is fleeing from his brother’s wrath, God’s love for Jacob is clearly demonstrated when He promises: “I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised” (Genesis
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Essay #1 Final - Mou 1 Emily Mou L&S R44: 108 October...

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