The Odyssey


As a fine example of Ancient Greek literature, The Odyssey proves that courage was the most important value for the Greeks. The adventures of the story’s protagonist are varied and exciting, as the author traps him in various difficult situations that test him in many ways. The only thing that remains the same is the fearless way in which he faces all the adversaries.

One could say that the main topic of The Odyssey is the man’s struggle against the gods. This conclusion comes to mind when you consider how many times the relationship between people and the gods was addressed in this story. The religion of Ancient Greece defined deities as higher creatures who were not impervious to human passions. This is why the struggle against the gods was personal for Odysseus, and it was based on strong human emotions for both parties.

Poseidon, the arch-nemesis of the protagonist, is shown as a bitter and vengeful man, even despite the fact that his divinity should have raised him above these petty notions. However, nothing stops Odysseus from pursuing his quest to return home. He bravely faces all the obstacles set in his path by the god and does not falter under the wrath of the deity. The courage that Odysseus shows by not succumbing to an adversary that can never be defeated, emphasizes the importance of this character trait to the Greeks.

Romance also played an important part in Greek culture. Love and passion made men start wars and defy gods, and love for goddesses made them defy their very nature. However, this kind of epic love was closely entwined with courage. It takes an immense amount of courage to put everything on the line for a chance to be reunited with your loved ones. Even marital infidelity was a challenge to overcome for something that runs much deeper than momentary passion and lust.

Art is a mirror that reflects the time and culture it describes. Seeing as courage is a pivotal trait that prevails in every situation described in The Odyssey, it becomes obvious of how important it was for the nation described in this piece of literature. When one takes this into consideration, understanding the history of Ancient Greece gets easier. The people that lived there admired a perfect warrior character. This explains how they managed to win a great number of military conflicts, and build a country that withstood attacks from numerous foes for centuries.