Classical Literature Analysis

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Odysseus and Telemachus in some ways pass through similar journeys in Homer’s Odyssey. Odysseus, the main protagonist of the book, is on a journey home to Ithaca which takes him through constant perils like the cyclops, lotus eaters, witches, and more. Telemachus, on the other hand, faces perils at home as suitors threaten to wed his mother, ransack his father’s home with parties, and even kill Telemachus, their sole objector (Homer 22).  In this respect, he is like Odysseus who challenged the Gods and many other dominant forces on his journey. When they finally reunite, Telemachus and Odysseus find that they are united in their goal to cast down and out the suitors and that, in the farmers of Ithaca, they have allies (Homer 343). Thus, a key lesson for both of them is that they have friends in high and low places.

Odysseus is a complex character whose depth help him to arrive home. For instance, though he eventually manages to slay more than a hundred suitors, while with King Alcinous, a minstrel manages to bring tears to his eyes which he hid “ashamed his host might see him shedding tears” (Homer 119). The fact that Odysseus happens to have a sensitive side to complement his wrathfulness saves him on more than one occasion from demise on his journey home. Namely, the grief he feels while with Calypso draws the compassion of the Gods and ultimately secures him safe passage away from the island by virtue of Athena’s intercession (Homer 4). Nevertheless, without his wrathful side, he never would have been able to cast out the suitors and take back his home.

Antigone’s ability to go against the grain is given by the fact she believes so forcefully in the gods and her brother. She states in relation to the decree that he should not be buried that “this crime is holy” and that “it is the dead, not the living, who make the longest demands” (Sophocles 4). In truth, Antigone makes some pretty strong demands herself yet because these are for the preservation of the God’s order, she is innocent in her desire. Had she possessed selfish desires, this would have made her a tyrant like Creon who mindlessly inflicts pain on Antigone (Sophocoles 28).

Creon is distinct from Antigone in that his ideals are towards the state of Thebes rather than the Gods. Nevertheless, because the government actually affects living souls, his dictates are sterner than the wishes of Antigone who simply wants to make peace with the departed. Sophocles appears to be suggesting that with power, men’s sensitivity towards fades into the background. Nevertheless, there is a cost to such abuse as evidenced by Creon’s final sad scene.

The meaning of justice, as shown in Antigone, is that there are times when the law needs to have its own exception. The law is made for the people, not the people for the law. Thus, some rules are meant to be broken and Antigone’s break with Creon’s decree is an example of such an instance. Creon should have seen that Antigone’s behavior was motivated by love, a pure interest that ultimately could only further the state and its ideals of true justice.

Othello and Oedipus the King are similar tales in that the chief protagonist of each is stricken by grief or jealousy leading to extreme self-harm. Othello actually kills himself, because he discovers he wrongly murdered his wife, and Oedipus gouges out his eyes after learning that he has killed his father and is sleeping with his mother. Both characters are united by the fact that they were led astray by some deception which, though initially trivial, would have far reaching affects. Thus, both stories are cautionary tales advocating for greater accountability and honesty.

Works Cited

Homer. The Odyssey. Trans. Robert Fagles, n.d. Accessed May 1 2018.

Sophocles. Antigone. Trans. Dudley Fitts and Robert Fitzgerald. Accessed May 1 2018.