Relating the Odyssey to Modern Times
In many books all around the world, readers can find similar theme topics in all of them. Even if the stories are years older or in different time periods, many situations faced can be relatable to society nowadays. In Homer’s epic poem the Odyssey, Odysseus battles a series of monsters that can be compared to problems in our modern world. During the beginning of the story, Odysseus and his men encounter the Lotus-Eaters, who offer sweet Lotus to all that come to the land. When some of the crew hikes into the land, Odysseus finds that they do not return because, “those who ate this honeyed plant, the Lotus, never cared to report, nor to return” (97-98).
When the men go and eat the “cursed” flowers they make them want to stay at the Land of the Lotus Eaters forever. This can be seen as addiction to drugs and alcohol in our times today, and how after trying them once, it can be very hard to quit. Since the men do not return, Odysseus goes to get them, saying. “I drove them, all three wailing, to the ships” (101). Since the crew eventually ate the flower, Odysseus went to find why they did not return, and had to drag them back to the ship so the men wouldn’t waste their lives there.
This can show that if someone addicted to alcohol, drugs, or any other substance, an intervention or help from professionals may be needed. Further along in his journey, Odysseus comes across the Sirens, bird-like creatures that lure men in by singing their beautiful song to them. Odysseus describes the temptation and wanting to come closer as he hears the song, saying, “The lovely voices in ardor appealing over the water made me crave to listen” (745-46). Odysseus was overcome by the song of the Sirens and wanted his men to untie him so he could jump into the water. The Sirens lure people in somewhere they don’t want to be, so readers could compare this to being in a toxic relationship or friendship with someone, and having to resist some of the temptations they present. Since Odysseus’ men could not hear the Sirens song with wax in their ears, they “rowed until the sirens dropped under the sea rim” (751).
Even though Odysseus wants the men to stop and go back, they keep rowing because they know Odysseus is under the influence of the singing. With the help of his crew, Odysseus was not caught by the sirens. This shows that with help from someone, it is easier to get out of a toxic relationship. Finally, the crew has to fight their way through two different sea monsters: Scylla, who is on one side of the boat, and Charybdis, who is on the other side. When describing how close each of the monsters is to them, Odysseus says, “Scylla to port and on our starboard beam Charybdis” (796-97).
With one monster on each side, Odysseus has to find a balance between each of them, and having to pick which monster to get closer to in order to survive. Today, this can be compared to having to make decisions that are both bad, but deciding which one is the lesser evil of the two. When the boat finally passes, and the men were safe once again, Odysseus says, “the Rocks were now behind; Charybdis, too, and Scylla dropped astern” (827-28). The men got through the monsters, and even though it is hard, it ends. This shows perseverance throughout hard times, and that even if both options are bad, everything will get better in the end.
Throughout this story, different themes appear that are relatable to the readers, despite the time period they are from. When Odysseus fights his monsters, they can all be compared to modern time monsters that people battle every day. The moral of the story is that no matter how many battles a person will have to fight in their lifetime, keep fighting.