The Odyssey

Elements of an Epic and Hero's Journey

The Odyssey by Homer is an example of an epic. This means that it is a long narrative poem that includes some of the elements listed below.
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Hero's Journey

1) The Call to Adventure

  • Odysseus's call to adventure was the Trojan War, which lasted ten years and led to another ten year journey home.

2) Supernatural Aid

  • In The Odyssey, Athena acts as a mentor to Odysseus as he goes throughout his quest. She helps him escape various situations that he would not have otherwise been able to avoid.

3) The Road of Trials

  • Trials are an obvious occurrence in Homer's book. Not everything goes as planned. Odysseus eventually loses all of his crewmen on the way home from the Trojan War. Some of the men are even eaten alive by a Cyclops, Polyphemus. Others are turned into swine, but only temporarily. Odysseus is also held captive for eight years by

4) Woman as Temptress

  • In this step of Hero's Journey, the main character typically faces some kind of temptation to stray from his quest. Odysseus faces this in the form of Sirens. While he and his men are attempting to sail home, they must pass the island of the Sirens who want to lure the men to their death. Despite the beautiful women's efforts, Odysseus and his crewmen successfully avoid this temptation.

5) The Crossing of the First Threshold

  • Odysseus actually crossed into the field of adventure when he left the Trojan War and raided an island. This choice leads to a long journey home for Odysseus and his crew.

6) The Ultimate Boon

  • This part of the Hero's Journey is the achievement of an ultimate goal. In The Odyssey, this goal is simply for Odysseus to return back home. All of his previous steps were attempts to get back to Ithaca. He finally achieves this objective only after going through his fair share of trouble.

8) Refusal of the Return

  • When Odysseus gets home from his quest, he shows some hesitation to return to his family and normal life. Instead of racing to his wife, Odysseus pretends to be a beggar for an amount of time. He even has a conversation with Penelope without revealing his true identity. This shows his reluctance to come back to regular life.

9) The Crossing of the Return Threshold

  • After Odysseus returns home, he is not able to go directly back to normal life. First, he must get rid of all the men who want to marry his wife. Penelope's suitors must be killed before Odysseus can be with her again. This threshold is crossed when Odysseus defeats the suitors and kills them all.

10) Freedom to Live

  • After returning home, getting forgiveness from his wife, and making a sacrifice to the sun god , Odysseus can finally live comfortably and without fear.
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