The 11th book of the Odyssey tells about the trip of Odysseus to the Underworld. Odysseus describes his way into the Hades and souls he has met there. He begins with a description of the women he meets. This trip is crucial for Odysseus because he reevaluates his traits, talking to his friends and relatives about their fate and his life. There are three main scenes in this book. In the first scene, Odysseus meets Elpenor, his own mother, Anticlea, and Tiresias, the prophet. In the second scene, he sees a great array of famous women. In the third scene, he meets and speaks at length with three heroes, Agamemnon, Achilles, and Heracles. These three speeches play a decisive role in the further development of the plot because the heroes make Odysseus look at his life and at his family relations from a different angle. The purpose of this paper is to analyze the impact of these three speeches on Odysseus.
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In his conversation with Odysseus, Agamemnon tells about his murder by Aegisthus. He invited Agamemnon and his people to a feast and killed them all. The treacherous wife of Agamemnon, Clytemnestra, chose Aegisthus as her lover and assisted him in the murder. She left the corpse of Agamemnon with opened eyes and jaws. The soul of Agamemnon tells Odysseus not to trust women and especially his wife, and to come home hiding his identity. Odysseus understands that he should be suspicious of their own family and friends because the death can come not from the enemies alone but from anybody surrounding him.
After the conversation with Agamemnon, Odysseus meets Achilles, who is a king of Hades. Odysseus praises him as the greatest of the Achaeans and tells him not to feel sorrow about his death because everything is in his power. Nevertheless, Achilles protests that he would be much happier to be a slave on earth than to be the ruler of the dead (Homer 187). He does not value glory anymore because it does not make any sense in Hades. Therefore, he destroys the image of the brave hero who strives to die as a great warrior in battle.
The third hero to speak with Odysseus is Heracles, who acknowledges him at first glance. He expresses pity that Odysseus is also in the land of the dead and tells about his journey in Hades to retrieve the great hound. This scene is short but very important because Heracles being a great hero, acknowledges Odysseus at first glance as a renowned hero. He also touches upon the The relations between the heroes and their relatives are remarkable. Both Agamemnon and Achilles feel sorrow about being dead but they are eager to hear about their children. Achilles brightens up hearing about the glory of his son. After returning home, Odysseus tries to act as a stranger to his father, but as his plan fails they embrace in joy.
The 11th book is crucial for the development of the plot and the character of Odysseus. He reevaluates his traits and deeds talking to deceased heroes. They teach him that he cannot trust anyone, and that glory is given only for a time. As the result of his conversation with Agamemnon, Odysseus returns home in secret, but as his plan fails he cannot conceal his joy to see his father.
Homer. The Odyssey. Penguin Classics, 2013.