The Six Elements of an Epic and the Hero's Journey
Characteristics of an Epic
- The characters in the story are beings of national importance and have legendary significance.
- The setting has a wide horizon, covering all over the world or even the universe.
- The hero's challenges take great valor and courage to complete.
- The style is sustained in one tone.
- Supernatural forces will try to help or to prevent the hero from completing his goal.
Being of National Importance and Legendary Significance
Odysseus was a major leader in the Trojan War. Known for his wit, he was the mastermind behind the Trojan Horse idea which won the war for the Greeks. He got out of many situations by being smart and also a good leader. He and his men were trapped in a cyclopes cave. Odysseus formed an idea and he lead his men to injure the cyclops so they could escape.
The Setting, covering all over the World.
Odysseus had to travel a long way to return home. He had left Ithaca to go to Troy for war. The war went on for 10 years and it took another 10 to return home.
The Challenges and Actions of an Epic Hero
In an epic, the hero must go through many challenges to complete his goal. They must take actions that could end their life or ruin their reputation, but they do for it for the greater good. One example of a challenge was when Odysseus was trapped inside a cyclopes' cave. He used his intellect and his wit to stab the cyclops' eye out instead of killing him. Odysseus did this because he knew he and his men could not have moved the stone from the door without the strength of the cyclops, Polyphemus.
The Style and Tone of an Epic
The style of an epic is one of a kind. It maintains a high tone, highly detailed, and is highly stylized. It maintains a steady flow and does not change the tone even in bad situations or petty matters. In the Odyssey, the conversation between Zeus and Athena has high tone and depth of detail to keep the reader locked on to the conflict.
Supernatural Forces in Epics
Different gods can interfere with the hero's goal in an epic. They can either help the hero or try to prevent him/her from achieving their goal. In the Odyssey, the goddess Athena often helped Odysseus with his challenges. Also, the god Poseidon tried to kill Odysseus several times and made his journey home to take a very long time.
The Hero's Journey in the Odyssey
Call to Adventure
Odysseus's call to adventure was when the Trojan War ended. Now that the war was over, he had to make the long journey home. He had been gone for 10 years and he did not know how long it would take to return to Ithaca. Although he was bringing many men with him on the expedition home, he did not know that it was still going to be a very difficult journey.
The gods intervened a lot in the Odyssey. Athena often appeared and tried to help Odysseus. Poseidon, the god of the sea, tried to kill Odysseus and make many obstacles for him to have to overcome.
Odysseus crossed the threshold when he began his journey back home. He did not know what obstacles he would run into and what challenges he would have to overcome.
Mentor and Helper
Odysseus had guidance several times throughout the Odyssey. The goddess Athena helped him many times. She told him what he should do in certain situations, and also aided in the killing of the suitors. If she had not helped and gave him guidance, he most likely would not have survived his difficult journey.
Challenges and Temptations
There are many challenges throughout the Odyssey. Such as when Odysseus and his men get trapped inside a cave with a cyclops. Also, there were a couple of temptations. One for example, was in the beginning of the story when Odysseus and his men stopped to go to the village. Instead of just taking what they needed, they killed many people and plundered everything. Another time of temptation was with the Sirens. Odysseus was smart enough to figure out how to prevent him and his men to be drawn to the voices but temptation got the better of him. He made his men tie him down so he could listen to what the Sirens had to say without causing harm in the long run.
The revelation is when Odysseus and what is left of his men stop on an island which contain the cattle of the sun god. The gods had warned Odysseus and his crew to not kill any of the cattle no matter how much they wanted to. If they killed them, then they would all parish. Odysseus went off on his own to get away from everything and to talk to the gods. While he was worshipping, he wanted to change his arrogant habits and wanted to obey the gods. But then he fell asleep. While he was asleep, his men could not stand not having much food when there were plentiful amounts of cattle right in front of them. His men slayed many cattle, enjoying their last meal.
When Odysseus returned home he did not reveal his identity to everyone. He dressed as a beggar and only told his son and his most trusted friend who he actually was. If he had told everyone who he really was, he would have been killed by the suitors who were trying to marry his wife.
"Characteristics of an Epic." Epic Elements. N.p.,Web. 14 Dec. 2015.
"Writeworld." W R I T E W O R L D. N.p., Web. 14 Dec. 2015.