What is a theme for "The Wandering, Part 1: I am Laertes' son?"

1 Answer | Add Yours

noahvox2's profile pic

noahvox2 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted on

I believe this question refers to the ninth book of Homer's Odyssey. In this book, Odysseus finally reveals his identity to the Phaeacians. As with much of the epic, a major theme for this part of the Odyssey is embodied in the Greek word nostos, which can mean "homecoming."

In Odyssey 9, Homer presents the audience with three significant events in the course of Odysseus' efforts to return to his native land of Ithaca. First, Homer describes Odysseus' encounter with the Cicones. Second, we hear about Odysseus' adventure in the land of the Lotus-Eaters. Finally, Homer spends most of this book relating Odysseus' encounter with the Cyclops Polyphemus.

The first two encounters show Odysseus' men as being reckless. They defeat the Cicones, but then do not leave promptly, which results in the Cicones regrouping and making a counter-attack that costs several of Odysseus' men their lives and thus prevents them from realizing their homecoming.

Similarly, in the land of the Lotus-Eaters, Odysseus' men who eat the lotus forget about their homecoming:

Those who ate the honey-sweet lotus fruit no longer wished to bring back word to us, or sail for home. (A.S. Kline translation)

Whereas Odysseus' men show their recklessness in the land of the Cicones and the land of the Lotus-Eaters, Odysseus himself becomes careless in the land of the Cyclopes. Odysseus' men want to leave the Cyclopes' island, but Odysseus' curiosity compels him to stay and eventually costs him not only the lives of six of his crew, but also ends up earning him the hatred of Poseidon after Odysseus blinds his son Polyphemus.

When Odysseus reveals his identity to the Cyclops, this allows the monster to curse him, a curse which aims to prevent Odysseus from ever reaching home again:

...let Odysseus...never reach his home on Ithaca: yet if he is destined to see his friends and his fine house in his own country, may he come there late and in sore distress...and let him find great trouble in his house.

Thus, much of the tale of Odysseus' wanderings focuses on the theme of nostos ("homecoming").



We’ve answered 317,870 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question