Never FallingExpress your views on the following quotation: "OUR GREATEST GLORY IS NOT IN NEVER FALLING BUT IN RISING EVERY TIME WE FALL."

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mstultz72 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

If you're in 9th grade, you may be reading The Odyssey, whose hero must fall in order to rise again.

Odysseus is literature's greatest epic hero.  Known for his crafty wit, he devised the concept of the Trojan Horse, which helped the Greeks win the 10 year war against Troy.  The Odyssey chronicles his 10 year voyage home to his wife, Queen Penelope, and son, Telemachus, whom he last saw as a newborn when he left for Troy.

Though heroic and crafty, Odysseus suffers from hubris (arrogance), which angers the gods, namely Poseidon, god of the oceans.  After losing many men and ships because of his hubris, Odysseus is told by the temptress Circe that he must literally go to Hades (Land of the Dead) in order to get home.  In other words, he must fall in order to rise again.

In Hades, Odysseus sees his mother, who committed suicide, two comrades, and the blind prophet Tieresias, who tells him he must pass through many more deadly challenges, thereby losing all his men, in order to return to Ithaca.  The experience humbles Odysseus, as he realizes his own mortality and feels guilty for the loss of life he has incurred.  He realizes he must exhibit syphrosine (restraint) in order to appease Poseidon and see his family again.

Once home, Odysseus faces more deadly challenges: several suitors wait to kill him and his son, marry his wife, and steal his throne.  Rushing in to claim what is his will surely lead to death, so Odysseus plans carefully with only his most trusted friends, revealing his identity only after he knows they are trustworthy.

In the end, Odysseus has suffered 20 years, but the suffering ironically has led him to become a wiser, less impetuous man.  If he would never have gone to Hades (fallen), he never would have been able to return home (rise again).

ec92 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Both the answers you already have are excellent, but even the simplest of people have some variation on this statement in their language. Anything related to "Learning from our mistakes" is obviously tied to this quote, as are the others already mentioned.

But I think there are many examples that need to be considered of great men who followed this and succeeded. Churchill turned down his first recognition from the Queen of England because he no longer was Prime Minister and waited until he was re-elected to accept it. Waite Phillips journeyed the west before he was in business with his twin brother, and when the twin died returned home totally depressed and found his way back into business -- and his son, whose nickname is "Chope" -- hoped to get the New Mexico ranch he loved, but Waite gave the parts he could not sell for ranching to the Boy Scouts and Chope rose above it all and eventually purchased his own ranch nearby.

There are many, many more. Kennedy could have given up after the PT boat was split in half but instead rose to the occasion; George H.W. Bush could have given up when he was shot down but rose to come back; Doug Owsley was not only under fire from the federal government, the Corps of Engineers, and even his own Smithsonian Institution but still rose with several of his friends and walked into federal court to stop automatic repatriation of a human mummy found out west that later was proven NOT to be Native American.

Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The previous post did a very good job in linking Odysseus to the quote.  Both Ralph Waldo Emerson and Nelson Mandela have been linked to the quote as authors, with some variation on their exact words.  Emerson would be a great example of the quote's meaning in his belief in Transcendentalism and the idea that individuals have a moral and ethical duty to be their own person.  In embracing their own individualism, Emerson would believe in the quote's ideas that the expression of freedom is far more essential than the potential guarantee of results.  Through such articulation, Emerson has become a critical voice in American Literature.  Certainly, Mandela carries much of the quote within him in his own experience and lifetime.  An outspoken voice against the South African governmental practice of Apartheid and racial discrimination, Mandela was deemed as a terrorist and imprisoned for over twenty five years.  Within this time, he never recanted his views and despite the harshest of treatment, he remained true to his convictions and beliefs.  This would be an example of demonstrating a passion for both the ability to utilize freedom, but also rise when failure and falling is evident.  Mandela was released and then was elected President of a Democratic South Africa, proving that the greatness of individuals lies in thei ability to rise again, to endure suffering and not capitulate to it.