In Homer's "Odyssey" Odysseuss steadfast curiosity causes a marked inconsistence in his life.

Authors Avatar by hxn1 (student)

Name: A Means of Reflection

Date Submitted: November 22, 2013


        “Tell me, Muse, of the man of many mays, who was driven far journeys, after he had sacked Troy’s sacred citadel” (1.1). So begins the Odyssey of Homer, describing not only the arduous journey of Odysseus, but also great irony in the expected character of such a famously smart and cunning individual. At one moment, he may be drawing his companions away from distraction and forgetfulness after exploring an island, but he later may himself be reminded by his own crew to remember his journey home. Next, he may encounter one creature and learn more about it without harm, but later may venture to meet another and have it end in others deaths. Within all these varied points in his life, there is a common line. Throughout his adult life, Odysseus’s steadfast curiosity causes a marked inconsistence in his life. This inconsistency is seen in his relation with his crew, his encounters with creatures, and his gathering of information.

        Before the ultimate destruction of his ship, Odysseus is accompanied by his crew from the war. In his relation with the crew Odysseus’s persistent curiosity results in personal inconsistency. After departing after the incident with the Kikonians, Odysseus’s ships are blown off course before finally landing at the island of the Lotus-Eaters. As would be natural for a weary crew reaching an island, the men “set foot on the mainland, and fetched water, and my companions soon tool their supper there by the fast ships” (9.85). Now, with the crew nourished and rested, the fastest route homeward would be to depart the island now as it is just a resting point for the crew. However, this is not the course of action Odysseus takes: “after we had tasted of food and drink, then I sent some of my companions ahead, telling them to find out what men, eaters of bread, might live here in this country” (9.87). In this small act Odysseus demonstrates his constant curiosity that drives his inconsistency. Driven by his curiosity to learn more about the island, Odysseus takes an unnecessary action because the crew has already rested, and further time spent on the island delays the ultimate goal of returning home while increasing the risk of trouble. This potential for trouble is then realized as the scouting party begins to forget their home, so Odysseus “took these men back weeping, by force […] then gave the order to the rest of my [Odysseus’s] eager companions to embark the ships in haste, for fear someone else might taste the lotus and forget the way home” (9.97).  Resulting from his curiosity about the island, Odysseus initially diverges from his ultimate goal of arriving home to Ithaca, but he is quickly reminded of his true goal and he hurries the crew away from the island. However, his curiosity leads to a different outcome as he arrives at Aiaia. Shortly after landing, “I pondered deeply in my heart and my spirit, whether, since I had seen the fire and smoke, to investigate; but in the division of my heart this way seemed the best to me, to go back first to the fast ship and the beach of the sea, and give my companions some dinner, then send them forward to investigate” (10.151). When he sees the signs of inhabitants, Odysseus’s curiosity is aroused again and similarly he decides to send forth a scouting party. As a result of this curiosity, the men meet Circe, her favor is gained, and Aiaia is their home for a full year, until Odysseus’s crew reminds him that: it is time to think about our own country, if truly it is ordained that you shall survive and come back to you strong-founded house and to the land of your fathers” (10.472). While before at the land of the Lotus-Eaters, Odysseus had been distracted away from his homecoming by his curiosity, the ensuing events caused him to remember his journey and he pulled his crew back. However, at Aiaia, his curiosity leads his direction of life the opposite way, where his companions play his role at the Lotus-Eater’s island. Between these two events, both started by his own curiosity, the outcomes are far from consistent with the actions of leader and crew markedly reversed.

Join now!

        Along his travels, Odysseus also encounters savage creatures which inhabit the far-flung islands. As seen when he lands on some island, Odysseus has a similar curiosity towards these entities to learn more. However, in his encounters with these creatures, his attitude of curiosity produces inconsistency in his life. After his company leaves Aiaia, the ship’s course takes them past the island of the melodious Sirens Before the crew departed, Circe had advised Odysseus: “you must drive straight on past, but melt down sweet wax of honey and with it stop your companions’ ears, so none can listen; the rest, that ...

This is a preview of the whole essay