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Why The Odyssey is an epic poem?

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The Odyssey is considered to be an epic poem. It highlights culturally relevant events in ancient Greece’s history.

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The Odyssey is one of the most significant epic poems. It features important events in ancient Greek history. The story is following The Iliad, which describes the fall of Troy. The Odyssey does not reference accurate events from the past. However, it is a powerful story from a mythological perspective. Events and Gods influenced the culture and beliefs of the Ancient Greeks. The Odyssey mentioned them even though they did not happen in reality.

Epic poetry is described as lengthy tale poems. They recollect prior events and achievements of remarkable people. These essential characters and events shaped the moral values and beliefs of an entire nation. The Odyssey describes some of a significant event in ancient Greek history. It encourages the poet and the readers to perceive themselves as members of a given society and a nation.

The events in the Odyssey contain descriptions of everyday life for the ancient Greeks. They communicate their values and beliefs. For example, in the poem, the hierarchy of Greek society is visible. The highest member of any community was the king or wanax. In the poem, the deceased king Agamemnon is referred to as a wanax. The protagonist is also a king but is not called wanax. That is due to his society being not as advanced. The events of Odyssey are mythological. However, the text presents the realities of Ancient Greek life. Second to the king were priests who performed sacrifices. Those were an essential part of Greek culture. Another vital element for ancient Greeks was the idea of fame called kleos in the text. Achieving fame in one’s lifetime was seen as crucial, as dying without recognition was a great tragedy. The events portray the main character’s desire to tell Polyphemus his name. It may have come from this need to be recognized despite the danger. The Odyssey reflects Ancient Greek society in detail. The poem’s events highlight the most important values and social standards for its audience.

The events of the Odyssey reflect the importance of religion and rituals to the Ancient Greeks. Worship of the Gods was done through organized and particular rituals. The most significant was a sacrifice. This generally would involve killing an animal, such as a cow or a sheep. The amount of sacrifice would determine the degree of God’s favor earned. For example, the protagonist gained the Gods’ support by performing the most sacrifices among all community members.

Sacrifices would be directed to the specific Gods. For example, Odysseus attempts to earn the favor of Athena, Goddess of war, and Poseidon, God of the sea. In the text, the Gods are not described in detail. The Greek audience would be well aware of their existence. The central conflict of a poem is the protagonists’ inability to return home. It is a result of making the Gods angry. Honoring and worshiping the Gods is seen as vital. Even a remarkable hero as Odysseus is not greater than the Gods. Overall, The Odyssey contains references to the Greeks’ religion and rituals.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'Why The Odyssey is an epic poem'. 29 September.

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