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False Homecomings In The Odyssey Essay

1010 words - 5 pages

The majority of the Odyssey is an account of Odysseus' adventures (or, rather, misadventures) trying to reach his homeland of Ithaka. Several of these adventures are false homecomings, the most prominent of which is his imprisonment on Kalypso's island. This false homecoming is strikingly different from what one would expect of Odysseus' real homecoming, but similar enough for parallels to be drawn between the two. Homer uses this false homecoming to foreshadow Odysseus' true homecoming.Throughout the Odyssey, Homer presents the reader with certain clues about what Odysseus feels his homecoming should (but not neccessarily will) be like. First of all, Odysseus wants to return to Ithaka. ...view middle of the document...

Odysseus also wants to return to a land without conflict. Kalypso and her deserted island offer peace. Furthermore, Kalypso, '...singing inside the cave with a sweet voice as she went up and down the loom...' (Bk. 5, ln. 61-2), is reminiscent of Penelope. Odysseus wants to return to a good, faithful wife--Kalypso presents herself as the perfect domestic partner to win Odysseus's favor.So, Kalypso's island offers comfort, a sense of family, and familiarity. These aspects meet Odysseus's general requirements for a homecoming, but fail in the specifics. Homer is using this false homecoming as a foreshadowing of the true one, in which all the specifics will be met. First, Kalypso and her island offer all the comforts of Odysseus's home, but merely at the physical level. Kalypso does not offer civilization the way Odysseus thinks of civilization. Civilized lands and people offer hospitiality. When Telemachos asks Menelaos permission to leave his house and return home, Menelaos replies: 'Telemachos, I for my part never will long detain you here when you strain for home. I would disapprove of another hospitable man who was excessive in friendship, as of one excessive in hate' (Bk. 15, ln. 68-71). Initially, Kalypso appears to be a good hostess. When Odysseus attempts to leave and she forcibly detains him, Kalypso begins her pattern inhospitality. When Odysseus actually does return home to the suitors, he will not find hospitality being practiced in Ithaka. But, it is his image of his homecoming, not what will actually happen, that we are dealing with. To restore hospitality, Odysseus's will...

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