What is it that Odysseus learns through his adventures?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I sense that this becomes one of the central issues of Homer's work.  I think that part of the answer is Odysseus learns what it means to be human.  There is struggle, pain, isolation, and heartache. Yet, there is also the activation of freedom, the recognition of new vistas and challenges, and the propensity, if only for an  instant, to overcome such elements.  This is something that the Gods do not have to address and something that Homer, through Odysseus, understands about the human/ divine dynamic.  I think that this becomes where Odysseus learns much.  It is in this light where he rejects the offer of becoming a God.  He understands that the human condition is one which there is little that is absolute.  Yet, it is here where there is the mere love of being, something that Odysseus comes to embrace in his own journeys.  He rejects the notion of totality and continually strives towards the difficult ends of going home, something that in its own right might not represent totality.  For Odysseus, the condition of being human is what he learns in all of its understanding, without absolutism or certainty.


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