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The Ghosts in Homer’s Odyssey Essay

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Updated: Mar 31st, 2021

Introduction

Homer’s Odyssey is one of the Greek epics. It is also a sequel to Homer’s Iliad. In book 11, Odysseus speaks to numerous ghosts that give him revelations, advice and guidance. Most of these ghosts have an influence on Odysseus’s fate. Throughout the book, Odysseus speaks to numerous ghosts including that of his own mother, Anticleia. These ghosts explain to Odysseus about the past while other give his hope and way forward for his future. Of the numerous ghosts in book 11, my favorite three include Elpenor, Tiresias and Anticleia.

The Ghosts of Elpenor, Tiresias and Anticleia

After Odysseus travels to the famous River of Ocean, he performs several sacrifices and pours libations as instructed by Circe. “The first ghost to appear is Elpenor (Homer 157)”. The ghost instructs Odysseus to ensure he goes back to the island of Circe and perform a proper burial for his body.

From this encounter, Odysseus understands something new and important. “The ghost informs Odysseus that a decent burial was necessary as a sign of respect for those who had died (Homer 162)”. He therefore learns the importance of a burial for someone who is deceased. “After the conversation, Odysseus would go back to the island and give the body a proper burial as requested by the ghost (Homer 162)”.

“The second ghost to speak to is that of Tiresias, a prominent Theban prophet (Homer 163)”. I find the ghost one of my favorite because of the hope and information he gives Odysseus. “The ghost reveals to Odysseus that Poseidon was busy punishing and killing the Achaeans (Homer 163)”.

Further Research

According to the ghost, Poseidon was punishing them because they had blinded his own son by the name Polyphemus. “The other thing about his conversation with this ghost is that he learns about his fate and future. The ghost foretells Odysseus’s fate (Homer 164)”. According to the ghost, Odysseus would go back home, succeed in reclaiming his own wife. The ghost assures Odysseus that he would reclaim the palace and make a successful journey to Poseidon.

Tiresias’ ghost tells Odysseus not to touch the children of the Sun especially after he makes his journey to Thrinacia. “If he touches the flock he would face much hardship and even lose his entire crew during the journey (Homer 164)”. The information is vital and gives Odysseus courage and hope as he faces his future. “The ghost foretells the journey ahead of him and he is warned of the dangers that might fall on his way (Homer 165)”.

The ghost of Odysseus’s mother is my third favorite ghost. “Odysseus speaks with Anticleia who informs him about the affairs and events taking place at Ithaca (Homer 165)”. “She also narrates to Odysseus how she died of pain and grief while she was waiting for his son (Homer 166)”. From the encounter with his mother’s ghost, Odysseus learns the love of a mother and the reason to treasure it.

Conclusion

Throughout book eleven, Odysseus speaks to numerous ghosts including that of his own mother. These ghosts explain to him about the past while other give his hope and way forward for his future. My favorite ghosts are those of Tiresias, Anticleia and Elpenor. Having spoken to the ghost of Tiresias, Odysseus is informed of his future and can go ahead with useful information about what to do and what to avoid. This would play a huge role towards his success as a great warrior.

Works Cited

Homer. Odyssey. New York: Classic Books, 2009. Print.

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IvyPanda. (2021, March 31). The Ghosts in Homer’s Odyssey. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-ghosts-in-homers-odyssey/

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1. IvyPanda. "The Ghosts in Homer’s Odyssey." March 31, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-ghosts-in-homers-odyssey/.


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IvyPanda. 2021. "The Ghosts in Homer’s Odyssey." March 31, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-ghosts-in-homers-odyssey/.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'The Ghosts in Homer’s Odyssey'. 31 March.

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