How are Demodocus's stories relevant to Odysseus in The Odyssey?

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durbanville | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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In The Odyssey by Homer, Demodocus is a poet on the island of Scherie, where Odysseus finds himself during his attempts to reach home. Odysseus's identity is unknown to the islanders and, being stranded and "heartsick for convoy home," having been away from home for many years, he now pleads with Alcinous, the king of the Phaeacians, to help him on his way. Demondocus, at the instance of the king, sings lyrical poems which invoke sadness in Odysseus, causing emotional outbursts. Odysseus tries to hide his anguish,"ashamed his hosts might see him shedding tears," but Alcinous, who has invited Odysseus to participate in some "games," in his honor, and who has diffused a confrontation between Odysseus and some youths, notices his continued distress every time Demodocus sings.

Demondocus's stories are relevant as they invoke feelings and memories of Odysseus's struggles in Troy and they reveal his growing maturity and understanding of his desperate situation as his own concerns "weigh on me now, not your sports." The glory of winning at the games is not as important to him as reaching home.  

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