In The Odyssey Homer presents an ideal that is rather counterintuitive to that echoed by his surrounding society. Homer proposed a radical new interpretation of caste systems that suggests that morality lies with those who reside on the bottom of the system. Through the epic, Homer empowers small, negligible characters in the name of assisting Odysseus. In parallel, he strives to dehumanize the suitors, constantly portraying them as filthy, ravaging pigs. We also see a more direct approach deployed by Homer, one that carries personal significance to him.
As a bard himself, Homer always remained at the lower end of the caste system within his own society. This inspired him to take action, using his craft he carefully constructed an epic infused with propaganda. Miniscule interjections, ones that may seem out of place, now appear to carry an ulterior motive, as Homer constantly reiterates the integral role that his class exhibits. One overarching example of his self-empowerment is be seen in the events that succeed the slaughter of the suitors. As Odysseus hunts for all left who plot against his throne, he is met with Phemius, the suitors’ designated bard. In this instance, Homer contorts logic and allows the bard to liberate Telemachus’ mind, and sways him to go against his own father. Following Phemius’ pleas, Telemachus bursts to the bard’s defense, he attests Stop, don’t cut him down! This one’s innocent. (Page 450 or 22.376). In this passage Homer conveys that Phemius, a mere bard can break the rock-hard will of the great Odysseus with a swift motion of words. He uses his convincing words to claim that he has always been loyal to Odysseus.
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Eumaeus, the swineherd, displays sterling dedication to his master Odysseus, both in true and disguised form. As Odysseus continues to adjudicate his loyalty to the throne, Eumaeus attests his allegiance not only to the throne, but also to his fellow classmen. During his probe, Odysseus receives the same respect from Eumaeus that he received from many of the kings he encountered on his exploits before. By enacting so, Homer subtly hints that Eumaeus could rival even a king’s expression of Xenia, that too without all the luxuries of one. Another lower-class figure who carries similarities to royalty is Eurycleia. She is seen as a mother figure to both Odysseus and Telemachus, yet effectively embodies both roles. As Penelope neglects her son in grief, Eurycleia volunteers to bare him as her own, as she did once his father. On page 406 or 19.495-19.496 Odysseus queries Nurse, you want to kill me? You suckled me yourself at your own breast-and now I’m home at last, therefore, implying Eurycleia raised him as her own. Despite his hubris, Homer recognized his audience, and catered to them accurately. Since a significant amount of Homer’s target audience consisted of affluent visionaries,
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