Patriarchy in Odyssey

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The Odyssey is an epic poem created by Homer, an ancient Greek author whose work remains a staple in western literature. The poem surrounds the journey of Odysseus as he attempts to return home to Ithaca after being away at the Trojan War for ten years. The central idea present in The Odyssey is how most of the conflicts throughout the story are a result of the absence of Odysseus, who before being away at the Trojan War, was the head of the family in a patriarchal society.

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This is illustrated through Odysseus’ absence resulting in Telemachos’ inner and external conflicts, Penelopia forced to deal with the suitors back at Ithaca and his men committing idiotic acts. An example of how the lack of Odysseus’ presence creates conflict in The Odyssey is Telemachos and how the lack of a father in his life causes for him to lack leadership skills, and confidence. Telemachos expresses his concerns about how his father’s absence has affected him throughout life to Mentor, who is Athena in disguise. “‘…he is gone from sight, gone from hearing, and left anguish and lamentation for me’” (Homer 9).

Due to Odysseus’ absence, all that is left for Telemachos is sadness. Him saying “left anguish and lamentation for me” demonstrates how Odysseus left Telemachos and instead of leaving him with the resources to become the leader he should be, Telemachos instead receives negative emotions from his father which discourage Telemachos further. His lack of confidence is shown most apparent when he expresses his frustrations about the suitors but then admits that he cannot do anything about them. “‘Indeed I would defend myself if I had the strength! What they have done is quite intolerable…’” (Homer 17). Telemachos would have strength if Odysseus had been present in his life to teach him how to become a leader, but because of his absence, such an event would not be able to take place until Odysseus returns. Not only does Odysseus absence cause for the lack of confidence and sadness Telemachos experiences but also contributes to another issue in The Odyssey; the suitors. Odysseus’ absence in the family causes for there to be no king at Ithaca and results in there being a lack of control in Ithaca and especially in Odysseus’ home.

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