What are the main ideas to be found in The Odyssey by Homer?

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favoritethings eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One main idea of this text has to do with the dangers of pride. After Odysseus successfully blinds the Cyclops, Polyphemus, he and his crew have nearly escaped the island when Odysseus decides to tell the monster his real name. (Odysseus had previously told the monster that his name was "Nobody.") He wants Polyphemus to be able to tell people who it is that bested him; however, Polyphemus instead uses his real name to pray to his father, Poseidon, to make Odysseus's journey home impossible, or at least incredibly difficult. Had Odysseus not told the monster his real name, it is likely that he would have gotten home far more quickly because Poseidon would not know who to punish for blinding his son. Odysseus's pride nearly got him killed before he escaped the waters around the island, and it certainly played a large role in his extended absence from home.  

Odysseus's pride also comes back to bite him when Aeolus has given him the bag of winds containing all but the one that would blow his ship back to Ithaca. In his pride, Odysseus does not tell his crew what the bag holds, apparently feeling that, as their leader, he does not owe them an explanation. When they can see Ithaca's shores, Odysseus finally falls asleep, not having slept for the entire journey from Aeolia. His crew seizes their opportunity to grab their share of whatever treasure they believe the bag to contain, and they open it, blowing their ship all the way back to Aeolia. Had Odysseus been less prideful and offered his crew an explanation of the bag, he would have gotten home a great deal sooner.

lsumner eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the Odyssey by Homer, the main idea would be a life's journey that is filled with obstacles. Odysseus has been at war for ten years and now he has spent ten years trying to get home. The journey has been long and full of trials, tribulations and obstacles.

Odysseus encounters the Cyclops, the Sirens, Circe, Calypso, etc. He has to overcome each obstacle. Daily, it is a battle just trying to get home. He loses his crew along the way. He nearly loses his life. However, through wit, heart and sheer determination, Odysseus finally makes it home.

When he reaches his homeland, Odysseus has more obstacles to overcome. He has to take care of disloyal servants and the suitors who are trying to marry Penelope. Life is a struggle, but with determination and perseverance, the journey is possible and the end result will be worth all the difficulties one has faced.