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I don’t think that Odysseus is purposefully avoiding home. While it is true that he spends a very long time at each place he visit, this could just be an issue of hospitality. Book One did say that Odysseus “…came to seemany people’s cities, where he learned their customs…”, showing that he travels to several different places that may have different social expectations regarding how long a guest should stay in order to satisfy Greek hospitality, or Xenia (Odyssey Book One lines 3-4). I say this because it reminds me of when I used to go to visit my grandma for Saturday dinner and she would get upset if anyone’s plate still had food on it. Partly due to growing up in The Depression and partly due to her upbringing, she assumed that her food wasn’t good, instead of the reality that we were all full. I got really good at pacing myself at those dinners so I could eat everything on my plate by the end of the meal. The point is hospitality is different for every household and region, so maybe Odysseus was trying not to be rude, instead of avoiding his family.
I agree that Odysseus is a terrible father since not once in the first ten books was it mentioned that Odysseus missed his son like he “longed to get back to his wife and reach his home” (Odyssey Book One, lines 16-17). Even though this depraved man-whore did sleep with Circe and Calypso, Circe mentions in Book Five Odysseus “…yearned to see [his] wife, the one [he] always long for every day” (Odyssey Book Five, lines 134-136). I do think he loves and misses his wife. I think Odysseyusing Home as a beacon of hope for Odysseus, something to help him through the obstacles and tormenting gods that won’t leave him alone. I think Home is a symbol of hope when Odysseus told Calypso, “…still I wish, every moment, to get back to my home, to see the day of my return. And so, even if out there on the wine-dark sea some god breaks me apart, I will go on— the heart here in my chest is quite prepared to bear affliction. I’ve already had so many troubles, and I’ve worked so hard through waves and warfare. Let what’s yet to come be added in with those” (Odyssey Book Five, line 147–156). When I’ve had a terrible day all I can think is how I want to go home where I feel safe and loved. Similar to the “…other warriors, all those who had escaped being utterly destroyed, were now back safely home, facing no more dangers from battle or the sea” (OdysseyBook One, lines 13-15).
I also think that the many detailed descriptions of his hosts’ houses, besides being used to set the scene, are a reminder to him of his home. Odysseus is a King of Ithaca and he mentions many times about his “…well-built house…,” and “…large and high-roofed home…” (Odyssey Book Six, line 130; Book Seven, line 109). I think Odysseus misses his house, because it is a source of pride for him. If I had a palace I’d be proud of it, too. Is Odysseus a bad father and husband? Yes and yes. Does Odysseus miss and want to go home? I think absolutely, and I think the long detours just emphasize the impossible trials the human spirit overcomes when it has hope, like hope of returning home.
I laughed out loud when I read “depraved man-whore.” What a hilarious way to describe Odysseus! But I have to agree with you. He didn’t give much thought to his wife, son, or kingdom unless he was by himself. After Odysseus drank Circe’s potion and was not harmed by it and he ran at her with his sword, Circe said, “So put that sword back in its sheath, and let the two of us go up into my bed. When we’ve made love, then we can trust each other” (Odyssey Book Ten, lines 295-298). Odysseus replies, “You’re plotting mischief now, inviting me to go up to your room, into your bed, so when I have no clothes, you can do me harm, destroy my manhood. But I will not agree to go to bed, unless, goddess, you will agree to swear a solemn oath that you’ll make no more plans to injure me with some new devious trick” (Odyssey Book Ten, lines 302-309. Circe swore her oath, and Odysseus went to her bed.
Giving hospitality to strangers was the way of the world. Visitors were given food, wine, clothing, wenches, and asked to stay to visit. Tales were told about voyages and wars. I can see how it took Odysseus so long to get home. It seemed like he wanted to go home, but there was always one more story to tell, more food to eat and wine to drink, more people to impress with his charm.And he was an eloquent devil too. He was all charm when he talked to people. When he spoke to Nausicaa, he complimented her over and over and asked her if she was a goddess. Each place he went, he spoke of his hosts and what they should give him so he could continue his voyage home.
Odysseus had good intentions of going home, but there always seemed like there were more people to charm and more ways to enjoy himself. I think he was very selfish. His actions should have been to get home and make sure his kingdom, wife, and son were taken care of. But I’m sure he thought that others were taking care of his home for him.
I love traveling, but I love being home with my wife also. I was in the Middle East last year for four months. I hated every day I was away from my wife. When I travel, I want it to be with her. She is my home.
I love the comment of your wife being home. That is the same for me. I cant think of traveling without my husband and children, they are my home. I think Odysseus lacks in this concept. Home is what he has and who he surrounds himself with, not actually his wife and son.
I agree with you that Odysseus has the “good intentions” of going home, but there is something that is always drawing him away longer. I mentioned it before but he does not seem to think of home until someone brings it up like when Jocelyn quoted “‘You god-driven man, now the time has come to think again about your native land”, to which Odysseus replies, “my proud heart was persuaded by their words.”( Odyssey Book 10 Lines 420 & 424).
He is also very ego driven, like when they were singing about his battles “Odysseus was moved to weep – underneath his eyes his face grew wet. But he kept his tears well hidden from the Phaeacian, all except Alcinous, who, as he sat there beside him, was the only one who noticed how he wept and heard his heavy sighs.” (Odyssey Book 8 Lines 257-261). The stories of his adventures, heroism and trials brought more tears then the loss of home and not seeing his family.
I feel that after Odysseus had spent seven years with calypso, he had longed to feel home. Even if he was sleeping around with other women on his journey, he would often think of his country, and his wife. A good example would be when Odysseus was alone on Calypso’s island his heart would alway come back to his home in Ithaca. Odysseus spends most of his time (when alone) crying on the beaches of her island “… lamenting on the shore…breaking his heart with tears and groans, full of sorrow, as he looked out on the restless sea…”(The Odyssey Book Five 70-73) till Athena convinces Zeus to take pity on him, and help him sail from the island, so he could continue his journey home.
When Hermes was told to go to Calypso’s island by Zeus “ ..tell the fair-haired nymph Calypso my firm decision—the brave Odysseus is to get back home.”(The Odyssey Book five 33-34). Hermes described the island like a paradise when he said “All around her in the cave 50 trees were in bloom…with long-winged birds nesting in them…who spent their time out on the water. A garden vine, fully ripe and loaded with rich grapes, trailed through the hollow cave…all around soft meadows spread out in full bloom with fresh violets and parsley. Even a god…would be amazed to gaze at it, and his heart would fill with pleasure…marvelling at the sight”(The OdysseyBook five 50-63). For me the location where I live plays a big role in what I consider a home. I find it peaceful being able to look outside the window, and admire the scenery.