The Odyssey Book XI Close Reading and Critical Analysis Essay Sample

Published: 2022-07-12
The Odyssey Book XI Close Reading and Critical Analysis Essay Sample
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Literature Odyssey Homer
Pages: 5
Wordcount: 1137 words
10 min read

The Odyssey Book XI which is titled: The Visit to the Dead, takes a look at Odysseus visit to the Underworld to make offerings by the instructions of Circe. In the Underworld visit, the shades of the dead (ghosts), gather around to drink the gross (blood) and then talk to Odysseus. The author incorporates various styles and themes to blend into the story and make the reader grasp the story with ease. The use of various literary styles has been incorporated in the sense that the story flows and the mind of the author is well presented. This paper will take a look at specific lines of the book and analyze them to capture the various literal styles and themes incorporated. Bias will be placed on the first-page paragraph from lines 10 to 22 (Homer 1).

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In this epic book XI of the Odyssey, the author Homer, presents a deep understanding of life after death in the Underworld, by narrating the journey of Odysseus and the experience he went through in Hade's domain. The passage in Book XI lines 10 - 22 is an introduction to the journey of Odysseus in the Underworld and also plays an elaboration of him in a hero's journey. The part of this passage is described by the author as a threshold that is on the border of the supernatural realm. The passage also represents Odysseus' journey in both the physical and spiritual mode of an unknown realm that is presented by the author. The author corresponds to the phase of descent that is shown in the Underworld through the representation of an austere paranormal realm. The author also incorporates the motif of weapons and bloodshed which he describes throughout the passage as he describes the Monomyth Cycle (hero's journey). The passage also elaborates on the changes in Odysseus' life in the upcoming event of his journey, and thus, the passage establishes the setting of the descent to the Underworld (Homer 2).

The passage is where weaponry is first mentioned; the author narrates that: "while I drew my sword and dug the trench a cubit each way. I made a drink-offering to all the dead (Homer 1)." The passage creates a very somber and depicts a grave atmosphere despite the drawn sword not being used to shed blood, rather for digging a hole for offering sacrifices. This passage also sheds visual imagery in its construction, as the author generates an unpleasant tone in the description of the awakening of spirits in the Underworld by Odysseus. The sentence reads: "young bachelors, old men worn out with toil, maids who had been crossed in love, and brave men who had been killed in battle, with their armor still smirched with blood (Homer 2)." The use of metaphor in the passage is inherent as the author describes that Odysseus had only a blade when he entered the Underworld, but now he is forced to use a sword to protect himself. The passage utilizes the use of imagery of brutality and weapons to pose the journey of Odyssey (Homer 2).

Homer utilizes the concept of duality of light and darkness in strengthening the concept of the Underworld as depressing and dreary. In the passage, Homer also incepts the concept of nocturnal setting in describing the journey, where he says: "All day long her sails were full as she held her course over the sea, but when the sun went down, and darkness was over all the earth, we got into the deep waters of the river Oceanus (Homer 1)." The concept of nocturnal setting is to taint the Underworld as dark, gloomy, and depressing, and the author personifies the Underworld as the herald of Hades who leads the crew to the land of the living dead. Homer in the passage also uses the style of epithet in imposing fear and worry as he describes the fall of night. The sentence reads: "where lie the land and city of the Cimmerians who live enshrouded in mist and darkness which the rays of the sun never pierce neither at his rising nor as he goes down again out of the heavens, but the poor wretches live in one long melancholy night (Homer 2)." In the passage, the author portrays the correlation between the Underworld and the night fall (Homer 2).

The concept of pathos and sympathy is displayed in the passage where the author describes the feeling by Odyssey towards the living dead ad he says: "but the poor wretches live in one long melancholy night. When we got there we beached the ship (Homer 1)." Homer uses an epithet of "Bright" in the passage when he describes the sun and paints it as something that only exists in the land of the living and not in the Underworld. The use of cacophonous words by the author is also present in the passage where he uses words like "wretches" and "ruinous," which are meant to depict the desolation and misery of Hades. The author says: "When I had prayed sufficiently to the dead, I cut the throats of the two sheep and let the black blood run into the trench, whereon the ghosts came trooping up from Erebus-brides, young bachelors, old men worn out with toil, maids who had been crossed in love, and brave men who had been killed in battle, with their armor still smirched with black blood (Homer 1)." The author describes the blood shed as black while it is known that blood is a powerful symbol of life and existence, and the presence of an oxymoron in the author's relation of the blood shed with the color black (Homer 1).

Homer gives both Persephone and Hades reverent and epithetic titles which is a depiction of the concept of reverence and regality. Another close concept that goes contrary to life and death is the author's imposition of age and youth, where the author imposes it effectively throughout the passage. The author mentions that: "young bachelors, old men worn out with toil, maids who had been crossed in love, and brave men who had been killed in battle, with their armour still smirched with blood (Homer 1)." In reading the excerpt, the reader can grasp the feeling that the author presents in Odyssey's journey of the Underworld as well as relate to the transformations and experiences. The author has applied different techniques in the passage that range from mentioning of brutality and weaponry to the inception of duality that exists between the light and the darkness, and more so the dominance of darkness in the paranormal realm of Hades. It is conclusive that the passage does not only detail the journey of Odysseus in the Underworld, but also brings to light his development of the heroic persona.

Works Cited

Homer. "The Odyssey Book XI." Butler , Samuel. The Odyssey (Butler) Book XI. New York: Adventure Work Press, Ancient Greek Poem. 1-2. Document.

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