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Reading the classics always has the effect of adding your culture’s history to your own personal history. In this particular case, for example, you learn how ancient people personified natural forces such as the sea, lightning, wind, etc., and with it a hierarchy of “gods” and “goddesses”; perhaps even more important, you see that there is a duality, sometimes in balance and sometimes not, between human desires (Odysseus’ desire to return home) and “the will of the gods” (or as we might put in modern terms, forces outside our control and influence). A student’s view of life can be influenced by Odysseus’ resoluteness, by his succumbing to and then conquering over his “appetites,” (those natural instincts that flesh is heir to); the final confrontation with his rivals for Penelope’s hand, his bonding with his son, his beautiful reunion with his family, can all inspire and renew the reader’s family ties; finally, the reader sees that some conflicts and hardships and trials and triumphs are to be encountered in any journey, any “odyssey” we take, and therefore the temporary set-backs and stumbling blocks are not unique to the student’s Odyssey, but are conquerable with perseverance. In case your view of life was that your troubles were unique to you, The Odyssey will disabuse you of that notion.
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