To What Extent Would Removing The Immortals From The Odyssey Improve Or Weaken The Poem?

1199 words - 5 pages

The removal of the immortals from the Odyssey, would – despite supposedly in some sense improve the poem – essentially weaken the poem and the story as a whole. Whilst the removal of the gods would provide Odysseus to act of his own accord, and allow the audience to see how Odysseus can cope without the interruption of the gods. Nevertheless, without immortals in the Odyssey, the poem would ultimately lack a crucially exciting fact of narrative and would look very different as a story of a man trying to achieve his nostos, after the Trojan War.
Ultimately, it must be acknowledged that without the immortal gods, the Odyssey would most likely not exist as the Trojan War would not have ...view middle of the document...

Similarly, the sense of tension and anticipation in Book 10 can only be provided through the encounter between Circe and Odysseus, following Circe transforming Odysseus’ men into pigs. The mere event of Circe bewitching Odysseus’ men is exciting in itself as the narrative takes an unpredicted turn as the men now “had pigs’ heads and bristles”. This then brings an added tension to the rest of the chapter as the audience would be left wondering after the fate of Odysseus, should the “moly” that Hermes provided prove ineffective.
Furthermore, the poem would be weaker without the immortals as the Odyssey’s representation of the gods allows the audience/reader to see them as characters with important relationships not only with each other but with mortal characters, rather than simply the invisible, powerful and elemental forces that other literature often presents religious deities as. The cut away scenes to Olympus and the exchanges between Athene and Zeus, with references to Poseidon allow the audience to perceive the gods as almost human characters with justifiable motives and actions. In book 1, the scene at Olympus plays a particularly important role as it sets the scene for the entire poem, as it is the notions of the gods – Poseidon’s “relentless malice” and the pity of the other Gods towards Odysseus - that provide the baseline plot for the entire poem.

Nevertheless, it can be argued that the Odyssey would in fact be improved by the removal of the immortal gods. If the gods were not present in the Odyssey it would allow the audience to learn how Odysseus is able to act without the constant interruptions of the gods, thus allowing us to see him act on his own initiative rather than on the guidance of an immortal. It would, to a modern reader, allow him to better fulfil the role of a modern hero in literature as fight for the survival and protection of not only himself but also his men would be of his own accord and his own doing and would therefore be much more impressive than a situation created by the gods for the convenience of Odysseus. For example, in book 5, during the storm that has him shipwrecked, Odysseus receives help from not only Athene (as usual), but also from the minor goddess Ino, who offers him her magic veil that will help him stay afloat in the treacherous waters. The intervention by these two goddesses effectively undermines the...

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