The Art of Being Human

Life of every person can be compared to a journey. Similarly, there are certain reasons and goals, which motivate a person throughout their life. Moreover, life itself consists of a set of smaller journeys, which are, in fact, the challenges that contribute to the development of spirit and

The Odyssey of Homer recounts the story of Odysseus’s journey back home to his family and his motherland after years of war and wandering. His journey started with the departure from the island of Ithaca and ended with his mysterious and triumphant return. Some gods demonstrated their affection for Odysseus because of his courage and spirit and supported him in difficult times. However, due to some personality traits and obstacles in life, Odysseus made an enemy among the gods. In particular, the god of the sea, Poseidon punished Odysseus by extending the hero’s trip back home. Thus, the mythological hero embarked on a new adventure because of the god’s anger and punishment.

One of the obstacles that Odyssey had to overcome on his journey was associated with the country of the Cyclops. There was no need to visit the country of “a crude and lawless people” as the main character and his companions sailed to a fertile island outside the harbor area where they found enough supplies. However, Odysseus’s curiosity prompted him to explore the country; therefore, he chose twelve of his loyal comrades, which is a symbolic number, in order to learn what kind of creatures the Cyclops were. As the men reached the cave, they did not find the Cyclops who dwelled there. In fact, they were amazed by the “crates full of cheese” and “pens crammed with livestock” that the monster had. The comrades tried to persuade Odysseus to take some livestock, food and return to the place where they had stopped as soon as possible. Nevertheless, the hero wished to see whether the owner of the unknown cave would show Odysseus hospitality and ordered to wait for their arrival. As a result, Odysseus’s ambition killed many of his companions and threatened his own life because the Cyclops they wanted to meet was, in fact, a huge, cruel, and fearless monster. However, Odysseus was smart and cunning. He did not allow his fear to cloud his judgment and, with the help of deceit and courage, managed to rescue the rest of his companions and continue their journey. In order to escape undetected, Odysseus had to blind the one-eyed Cyclops. This aspect was crucial as the Cyclops whose name was Polyphemus was Poseidon’s son, and the harm that the hero caused him resulted in a curse on Odysseus and his voyage. Nevertheless, the hero overcame the obstacle and maintained the love and protection of Athena.

One of the episodes of my life shares many similarities with the obstacles reflected in The Odyssey. There was a challenge from my opponent in studying. Both of us wanted to look smarter and more gifted in the teacher’s eyes. As a result, we divided our group mates into two teams and sacrificed three months of time devoting each day to hard work in order to the best results. The time we spent working may be viewed as a journey, during which I encountered obstacles similar in their nature to those of Odysseus. First, I involved people who were smart but not interested in the challenge in a competition. Similar to the mythological hero, I neglected the wishes of my friends for self-satisfaction. Evidently, the work was more difficult for me because some of the team members contributed relatively little to the project due to their disinterest. Although our report received high scores and all of us gained valuable experience, our university course grades were lower than we expected due to the lack of time for actual studies. In retrospect, I could stay on a so-called “fertile island outside the harbor area” and continue improving my knowledge in class, but my ambitiousness and curiosity led me to “a cave” where I had to ensure my friends’ success, fight “the monster” of competition, and remain collected in order to finish the accepted challenge. On the one hand, this journey earned us the recognition of our teachers and mentor, which is similar to the praise of Odysseus by gods in the myth. I managed to achieve my goals despite the difficulties in form of laziness, despondency, envy, and arrogance. All of these obstacles and the consequences of our competition can be compared to the Cyclops and the curse of Poseidon from the poem. On the other hand, it cost us much time and effort and resulted in poorer academic performance at the university. In fact, the teams could achieve the same results with fewer losses. However, as depicted in The Odyssey, human nature has some flaws, and even the best make mistakes sometimes and have to learn from them.

To conclude, the mythical stories are not merely fiction about people or phenomena that have never existed in real life. Mythological heroes are more real than imaginary: they are among us and we sometimes are them. Thus, the journey of Odysseus reflects our personal experience in life. His journey and eventual arrival home symbolize an individual’s belief in reaching our own destination points, actual or metaphorical.

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Lucy Hamilton

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