One of the social institutions that play a very vital role in the Oddessy by homer is the family, the importance of the family and home are highly emphasised in this work of art, and the main character Odysseus really demonstrates the role of home and the family. The main theme in this epic novel is reunification of the family and this is illustrated by the attempts of the protagonist to return home and reunite with his wife and son. The entire novel highlights various examples of families (Stubbings 89). There are good families that prosper and there are bad ones that fail. As Odysseus struggles to return home and Telemakhos struggles to be a man, the book stresses on the concept of a healthy family. In the long run, at the resolution of the conflict in the novel Odysseus is reunited with his family illustrating that a family that is united can overcome all the challenges and obstacles that comes it way.
At the beginning of this work of art, the family as a social institution is in shambles (Camps 78). No one knows about the whereabouts of the protagonist. Penelope has spent many years keeping suitors at bay as she cries for Odysseus. Telemakhos, his son, has grown without a fatherly figure which makes him confused and unsure of whom he is .A family in shambles creates disarray in the kingdom. Ithaca, Odysseus homeland has no king in his absence, meaning that it lacks a fatherly figure. Lack of a fatherly figure affects the growth of the sons of the kingdom who act egregiously, harassing people and perpetrating impunity. Telemakhos grows ignorant of how a functional and sound family should be but when he travels in search of his father; his eyes get opened as he learns about the tenets of family life. When he visits Pylos, he meets Nestor who requests his son to accompany Telemakhos (Aurbach 111. For the first time, the son of the protagonist has a real friend. When he visits Sparta, he meets king Menelaus and Queen Hellen celebrating a double wedding and this teaches him about how a functional family should be. This family had been hit hard by the Trojan War but since the relationship between its members was strong and sound, it manages to survive the vagaries of the Trojan War. This thriving family also enables the whole Spartan kingdom to thrive well (Caldwell 56).
King Menelaus has a brother called Agamemnon who in contrast does not have a healthy family. His family is an example of what a family should not be. His family is an exact opposite of Menelaus and Helen marriage though he is married to his sister Clytemnestra. During thee Trojan War, Agamemnon was absent form his family for a long time. Instead of waiting for her husband to return from war, Clytemnestra cheats on him with a younger liver called Aigisthos (Parry 33). When he returns Agamemnon and his slave mistress called Cassandra are executed by his wife and this leads to more murders in the family. Agamemnon’s son Orestes kills his mother Clytemnestra for destroying the family. Clytemnestra had destroyed the family and her actions could not go unpunished.
Odysseus journeys also teach him about the role of family life. In the entire book, his main motivation is to go back home to his wife and son. There are several adventures that highlight his motivation but the major one is his quest to leave Calypso. Odysseus had been held by her as a slave in the island of Ogyioa. Calypso offers him many gifts such as youth, immortality and her eternal love if he agrees to remain in that island. However, he chooses to forego the all aforesaid and return home to his wife and son, who he had not set eyes upon for two decades (Blazina 20). This action by the protagonist further cements the family as the most vital aspect of the novel Odysseus. Throughout this epic poem the importance of quality family life is constantly highlighted. Using the loving family of Menelaus and Helen and the tragic marriage of Agamemnon and his wife, the story illustrates that unity is very important in the success of a family as a unit. The reunification of the protagonist with his people illustrates that through love and commitment, all the obstacles and challenges that come in the way of a family unit can be overcome (Lane 44).
The role of the family in this epic poem is closely connected to the relationship between fathers and their sons. Generally, there are certain values that define the relationships between fathers and sons and these values are well extrapolated in the odyssey by homer. These values help to shape the relationship between fathers and sons in this story the thesis of the author in this case is that a son must be wiling to do anything for his father and a father is also supposed to do anything for his son. A son will always seek to avenge his father in case of an instance of humiliation and disrespect for example when Agamemnon is humiliated by the man who sleeps with his wife and kills him, his son Orestes defends his father by killing his murderer (Crotty 119). King Nestor believes that Orestes is a hero because he punished the man that destroyed his father. According to Nestor, a good son is a son who will go to any length to defend his father. Every man should have a son that is willing to punish all those that seek to harm their fathers. This means that a son is supposed to uphold a man as the greatest man in the universe and should be ashamed if he cannot rise to defend their father in case of any humiliation.
However, the main duty of protection belongs to the father and not the son. A father is supposed to protect his son from any harm that he might come across. This is illustrated by the protagonist, Odysseus who is ready to go to hell and back just to ensure that he sees his family again and is reunited with his son. He had been away from his family for twenty years but refuses all the gifts that Calypso gives her because he wanted to go back to Itheca and protect his son, indeed, when he gets is reunited with his family, he makes sure that he gets rid of everything that had been worrying his son. His son, Telemakhos was being harmed by the many suitors who flocked their home to woo his mother and he needed protection from a fatherly figure.
Happiness and celebrations are other values that shape the relationships between fathers and sons in Oddessy. When Odysseus finally returns home and revels himself to his son, the two men share the most emotional moments in the book and this illustrates the bond between the father and the son. This bond is further illustrated in the case of another father-son pair; Nestor and Peisistratus as they are sacrificing to the gods. The father and the son are bonding during a moment of festivity. Nestor’s other sons are also present in this festivity and food brings the father the son together in a special type of a bond. This bonding helps them to express themselves in a way another setting would not have afforded (Whitman 50).
Another value that shapes the relationship between fathers and sons in this Homeric epic is guidance and leadership. Telemakhos is put at the beginning of odyssey mainly because he is not a good leader. This is not his character or lack of talent; the problem is that he was raised without a father figure to guide him on ho w to be a good leader. While he is searching for his father, he stops at Pylos and Sparta where he meets various sons and father pairs. These pairings give him a glimpse of the father son relationship that he had been missing since his father went out when he was young. A look at Pylos and Sparta clearly tells Telemakhos that he had failed as a leader mainly because of the absence of a fatherly figure in his life. Telemakhos is lost because of the absence of a fatherly figure and his difficulties illustrate why his kingdom Ithaca had been on a downward trend. Odysseus years for a relationship with his son as much as his son, Telemakhos yearns for a relationship with him and that is why he chooses to go home rather than live as an immortal with Calypso(West 56). He feels that he has a responsibility he has not fulfilled and that is guiding his son. That is why he shuns imorality and stays loyal to his wife and family. This helps him to go back to his family and guide is son to make wise decisions as a future king and leader of a family.
In the odyssey the distance between the father and the son is quite important because it is the means that establishes the relationship between the father and the son. This distance has been created by the father who is far a way from home. The absence of the father is the motivation for the journey the son undertakes. In search of his father Telemachus seeks to prove his own worth. The bond between the two is quite unique because there has been a strong desire between the two to connect all along and the distance between them reinforced this bond. With each father and son pair, homer illustrates the roles that were available to both the father and the son in their relationship and in most cases; distance is a crucial factor that underlies that relationship. Textual evidence illustrates that both Telemachus and Odysseus were willing to overcome obstacles and challenges so that they can meet once again after very many years of being away from each other (Homer 111).
The relationship between the father and son is the strongest type of bond that is expressed in this Homeric epic. A father will go to any extent to protect his son and a son will go any extent to punish all those that seek to destroy his father. This connection creates a strong bond, a bond that is eternal (Lombardo 89). These divergent father and son relationships have an effect of the subsequent generations. In this Homeric epic, Odysseus puts his life at stake to protect his son. This excellent father and son relationship fosters an intra-familiar affiliation that has the power to sustain intra-generational continuity. The conflict solution patterns that Homer creates as he pursues this father son relationship have the capacity to strengthen the future generations (Beye 78). Sons that have been protected and guided by their fathers will most likely protect and guide their sons and there will be a continuity of the father son relationship. The leadership of the different kingdoms that have been mentioned in Oddessy depends on the father son relationship (Hexter 99). For example, the relationship between Nestor and his son is very important for the future generations in Pylos. A good relationship will undoubtedly impart guidance and leadership skills unto the son and this will act as a good foundation of future generation leadership in Pylos. The same applies for Ithaca and Sparta which depend on the way the fathers Nestor and Menelaus relate with their sons and how they guide and impart leadership skills unto them.
In conclusion, the role of the family is the major point of concern in the odyssey by Homer and the author where main thesis of the author is a family that is united can overcome all the challenges and obstacles that comes it way. The book also explores the values that underlie the relationships between the sons and the fathers and these values include protection, guidance, leadership and continuity. All in all, Oddessy gives lesson that can help people to pursue healthy family relationships.
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