The book ‘Homer’s The Odyssey’ written by Frank Bernhard is a speculation of why The Odyssey is represented in a non-chronological manner. Bernhard makes use of clear words and concrete examples as well as numerous quotes to articulate his belief that the cause and sequence of the events in this book were created on purpose by Homer so as to generate and elicit optimism to the readers.
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The book revolves around Odysseus as the main character. Odysseus took the initiative and bred Argos in the best way possible not just to have it as his faithful hunting dog but to protect him from any hunting beast that would want to flee him from the deep places in the woods (Bernhard 246). This brings out a loyal servant-master relationship between the two.
As brought out in the book, Odysseus fits well as being a great hero and Agro a loyal servant. Agro waited despondently for Odysseus to return after a period of twenty years. To keep his readers glued to the book, Bernhard makes use of different writing styles and methods like keeping the readers in suspense.
He does not introduce the main character till later in the book. He also makes use of what can be referred to as the ‘Homeric” method. Bernhard achieves this by creating a contrast between two female characters who were of great significance to Odysseus. The two female characters were Penelope; his mortal wife and Calypso; who was the immortal goddess.
By omitting the presence of Odysseus, Bernhard wants the readers to believe that Penelope’s devotion and faithfulness are intensified. This is seen when she embraces familial love that Odysseus yearned for. The author introduces the Island as a significant place not just as the place Odysseus called home for more than seven years but the place where Penelope played a crucial role in his life before Odysseus reached Phaeacians Island. Bernhard states that ‘She is the last of Odysseus’ adventures on his way to the island.
The book uses its characters to examine the inner meaning of The Odyssey structure. There are several speculations that come up in the book which try to embrace the common optimism brought out by the author. A good example is the fact that as long as Odysseus remained hidden and secluded, his state would remain to be neither that of the dead nor of the living. By this, Bernhard provides valid examples of the deadly sins committed by Odysseus. The sins acted as tests to how much he could endure.
This was symbolic of the years he spent on Calypso Island. Odysseus is also held accountable for his actions in the book. The Polyphemus episode for example provides solid evidence for the faults committed by Odysseus. The episode also presents to the reader the accurate and true picture of Odysseus. The Polyphemus episode is different from most of the examples in the book. Most of the examples are about men’s faults but this is more specific as it directly portrays Odysseus faults.
Despite his faults, Odysseus is still brought out by Bernhard as being a hero and appreciated by the people around him. He prefers to show the admiration for Odysseus stoicism rather than fulfilling the wish of the readers. A good example is how the author relates the dog’s height and misery and Odysseus self control (Bernhard 202).
Though not emotionally attached to the dog, he was angered at the disrespectful display of the reactions of people around him. The trip to the Underworld serves as the turning point in the story as it was during this trip that Odysseus got enlightened.
Bernhard takes his time to describe this trip which ultimately led to self control and wisdom that guided Odysseus in his future trails. Athena states that “make his name by sailing there” (Fagles 482). This meant that it is after Odysseus witnessed all those hardships in the Islands that he decided to change his ways. He consequently overcame temptations and learned moderation by allowing himself to be tied up as he passed through the island of the Sirens.
Prior this trip to the Underworld, Odysseus and other characters had faced many challenges which they succumbed to and committed sins of greed, sloth, lust, pride, and envy. The episode of the Lotus eaters is a good illustration of the challenges and sins committed by Odysseus and his men. Fagles implicitly described Odysseus sins; “Of all that breaths and crawls across the earth, our mother earth breeds nothing feebler than a man” (Fagles 150). Fagles mean that he was leading a careless life yet he was a feeble man. This implied if continued to live that way, he was destined to fall.
After realizing his mistakes and conquering few trails that were still on his way, Odysseus is so determined to return to his homeland and family. “Odysseus, man of exploits, still eager to leave at once and hurry back your own home, your beloved native land”(Fagles 223). Despite the life he was leading, Odysseus wanted to go back to his wife and home. The last chapter in the book leaves the reader with a vivid image of Odysseus admiration for his family and homeland and how his return was important.