Notebook, 1993-


[From: Kyriazis, Constantine D. Eternal Greece. Translated by Harry T. Hionides. A Chat Publication.]

Between History and
Legend - The Odyssey and Homer

Since the Trojan War was an historical event, could it be that Odysseus and his remarkable voyages were also a reality? The poet of the Odyssey describes his hero as being wave-tossed for ten whole years and visiting many lands and [p. 99] peoples and monstrous beings who some time cause fright, other times sorrow, and occasionally joy and exhilaration, and then the happy ending which is the climax of the adventurers when he finally after no less than twenty years of travels finds his faithful wife awaiting him and a son who has searched for him longing to see him. The poet of the Odyssey journeys alongside his hero and has in mind a sort of vague map [if one can call it so] on which were delineated many points to which the Argonauts, too, had sailed, such as Scylla and Charybdis, Circe's island, the Sirens, the land of the Phaeacians, some thing that would indicate that the poet believed in the existence of the Argonaut expedition, which according to the mythological chronology took place before the Trojan War. But more significant still, without mentioning the most recent theory by which it is believed that Odysseus was the first European to set foot in America [theory of Henrietta Mertz], the Odyssey was the national epic of the Greek race, a song telling of the spread of the Greek world to the shores of the Euxine Sea, the coasts of Africa, and into the western Mediterranean. It reflects that innate desire to travel which every Greek possessed, to see new worlds, to defy the adverse elements of nature with the confidence that after all the trials and tribulations he would finally emerge triumphant and reach the port from which he had set out, and to find his faithful wife patiently awaiting his return.

The Iliad was loved by the later Greeks, for its heroes inspired them and carried them back to more heroic times than their own. But the Odyssey touched their heartstrings intimately for it was more human, much nearer to them. The sadness which from time to time they encountered in the verses of the Odyssey, was a reflection of their own sadness. The gods who were described therein were much closer to them, for they were more human, more humane, and in agreement amongst themselves and worked together not to make mortal men suffer but to help them. Many attempts have been made to compare the Odyssey with the Iliad. There are many scholars who believe the Iliad to be superior to the Odyssey as a literary achievement. Others do not agree with this point of view, and maintain that they are two entirely different works which cannot possibly be compared. But perhaps the true answer is somewhere in between, that which states that the Iliad resembles the sun in its ascendant and all its glory, and the Odyssey that of the sweetness and peace is reflected in its resplendent setting. [pp. 99-100]

[Kyriazis, Constantine D. Eternal Greece. Translated by Harry T. Hionides. A Chat Publication.]



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