Warfare In The Odyssey

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The mortal tendency to succumb to temptation manifests itself throughout Book 10. Just as Odysseus taunts the blinded Polyphemus in book 9 by boasting about his defeat of the Cyclops, the members of his crew prove unable to resist looking into Aeolus’s bag, and their greed ends up complicating their nostos, or homeward voyage. As important and illustrative of weak-mindedness, however, is that Odysseus lets a year waste away in the arms of the goddess Circe. While his crew certainly seems not to mind the respite, Odysseus particularly enjoys it, even though his wife is waiting for him. The drunk Elpenor’s death as the men are about to depart from home constitutes another instance of overindulgence in personal appetite. Only when his crew “prod[s]” him and calls his delays “madness” is Odysseus persuaded to leave Circe’s realm (10.519–520). The crew members’ lukewarm feelings for the…show more content…
Achilles’ declaration, “I’d rather slave on earth for another man / . . . / than rule down here over all the breathless dead,” alludes to his dilemma, depicted in the Iliad, of choosing between earning glory on the battlefield but dying young and living out a long, uneventful life (11.556–558). Whereas the Iliad, which celebrates the glory of warfare, wholeheartedly endorses Achilles’ choice of glory over long life, Achilles’ lament in Book 11 of the Odyssey issues a strong caveat to this ethic of kleos. This change in Achilles’ sentiment from one poem to the next is understandable, given that, as we have seen with Odysseus, the Odyssey tends to focus on characters’ inner lives. Yet Achilles doesn’t wholly shun the idea of kleos. Though he turns away somewhat from his warrior ethos, he still rejoices to hear that his son has become a great warrior. Kleos has thus evolved from an accepted cultural value into a more complex and somewhat problematic
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