Since Telemachus was the only prince that was left in the palace after his father left for the Trojan War, he had to take responsibility as a man of the palace. When his father Odyssey did not return to Ithaca after the war, many people, including the queen herself assumed that he was dead. Many suitors flooded the palace to try and win the queen, this angered him but he had nothing he could do since he was a young and helpless boy. However, Telemachus matures from a young and inexperienced boy to a man who can take up roles and revenge for the abuse that he faces.
One of the major values brought out clearly was hospitality. Strangers who came to visit maybe dangerously and also they may be harmless. Strangers may be in need of help, and hence a civilized society will be hospitable to the strangers to demonstrate their qualities as human beings. The Greeks relied on these strangers to bring the news and to update them on what was happening on the outside world. Suitors had come from all over the country to Odysseus house, and their family had been hospitable for them. However, the suitors abused this hostility and overstayed on their premises depleting the food that was available for the queen and her servants.
Loyalty and perseverance are other virtues that are clearly brought out in the story. Penelope waited for her husband for 20 years faithfully. This was despite the fact that he did not know whether her husband was alive or not. Also, Telemachus stood by his father against the suitors and helped him kill them all. He stood with his father despite the fact that he had been absent for 20 years and is still proud of him as he acknowledges him as a king. This perseverance helps Telemachus to grow from a young naïve weak boy to a strong man he becomes. Odysseus’ perseverance is also legendary; he survives for 20 years, 10 years in the Trojan War and the other 10 years through many obstacles on his way home.
Spiritual growth is clearly brought out in the text. In the beginning, Telemachus is a little helpless boy who is not sure on how to deal with suitors who come to his home to seek his mother's hand in marriage. He knows his life is in danger as the suitors see him as the only baggage to them. He has to grow up fast if he has to protect himself and it is with Athena’s help that he calls an assembly meeting of Ithaca leaders and confronts the suitors. Although he finds no support, it is his first step towards maturity. Through Athena’s guide and suggestions, he learns of how a prince should handle himself and in the end when Odysseus comes back, he wins his trust by passing his test of battle. This is a growth worth noting from a helpless boy to a full warrior.
Both Odysseus and Aeneas are heroes though they fought in opposite sides of the Trojan War. Odysseus led Ithaca while Aeneas led Troy. They were both regarded for their heroic acts in fights and also had similarities on their background and their struggles. However, they rivaled each other for their hero status in their respective countries. Odysseus was considered one of the wisest kings for the idea that he used to conquer Troy. When his men were overpowered, he gave the Trojan soldiers a huge wooden horse with Greek soldiers hiding inside as a sign of surrender. Once the horse was inside their gates, he waited until the Trojans were drinking and sleeping after celebrating their victory. They emerged from the horse, and they slaughtered all soldiers. On the other hand, Aeneas was also a hero; he was highly regarded since he was the one who started the Roman race. He was able to bring together a whole race due to his strong motivational skills; he would motivate his soldiers before a fight reminding them their struggles and of their great destiny.
Most of Odysseus’ problems came by the way he led his life, it was as a result of pride, curiosity or disrespect to the gods. He was able to go through all these hardships for his bravery and cleverness. Aeneas, on the other hand, is portrayed as a victim of circumstances. He has a great control for his mind and emotions but is a survivor of a doomed Troy. He shows self-control as he does not fall especially into hand of women like Odysseus does.
However, the two characters Aeneas and Odysseus are heroes for completely different reasons. Odysseus is part of a continuing Greek society which aims at idealizing traits of ancient Greeks, but it does not glorify his traits of infidelity, pride and curiosity which have all been subdued by the strong character he is. On the contrast, Aeneas is a founder of the new myth and race. He has poor traits with good discipline. This is the main reason that Aeneas a founder of a new myth finally overtakes Greece and becomes very powerful.
The predominant values depicted in the Aeneid
Prayer is one of the most predominant values. Throughout the epic, all characters send prayers to the gods asking them for their assistance, they pray to the gods using different methods including sacrifices, celebrations and mere requests. It is depicted that the prayers work for the different characters as they ask for help and receive it. It also brings out clearly that those who disrespect the gods are punished such as Mezentius. He Cries that he does not fear or care for any god during the battle, he is killed and, on the other hand, Aeneas calls for Apollo for help and he emerges victorious.
Respect for ancestors is depicted as a strong pillar in the society; most intimate relationships are father-son relationships. It is out of respect for ancestors that Aeneas is determined to fulfill his destiny and journey to Latium. Although Mezentius is an evil character, he has a deep sorrow when his son dies. Also, Aeneas feels pity and regret when he is told to kill Lausus; this is because the memories and thoughts of his father who is already dead run in his mind.
Humanity also comes out clearly in the poem. Although the characters are mostly definite and fixed, either good or evil, it is clear that even the good characters have their weaknesses. Even the evil characters such as Turnu have some desirable character which is mostly courage just like Aenea has. The most admirable character who is Aeneas too has a weakness as he is swayed off from his course by his love and passion for Dido and also shows some panic in his flight from Troy when he loses his wife.
Role of storytelling in Odyssey
The act of storytelling plays a significant role in revealing the story of Odysseus. This is because each of the narrators reveals some stories of the past about Odysseus heroic acts giving insights into what a hero should be like. They give the standards of a hero according to Greek society as they give different aspects of a hero. All these stories when placed together they become a part of the whole story but each has a different role in making the story complete. Some parts do not contribute directly to the development of the hero, but they all play a part in passing different moral lessons to the audience.
Through storytelling, a character out of fiction is created and is magnified to become a hero and is developed from the creation and ends up solving a great mystery that would have mostly no one else is unable to solve. Storytelling is not only a form of entertainment but also explains heroic acts of noble men. Stories would be created, and the story tellers would narrate them to men women and children. They would be perfectly modified and later shared throughout their lives in different forms either as songs, poems or tales. They would give many moral characters as their heroes reflected it.
Ahl, Fredrick. Aeneid. London: Oxford University Press, 2008.
Griffin, Jasper. Homer: The Odyssey. London: Cambridge University Press, 2009.
Irwin. Solon and Early Greek Poetry: The Politics of Exhortation. London: Cambridge University Press, 2009.