The Odyssey is an epic poem that contains numerous themes that bring significance to the different characters. Odysseus is an Ancient Greek hero involved in the Trojan War. Two main themes are Love/Trust & Hospitality. While Odysseus is gone to war, he experiences hospitality in some places more than others. One major relationship that resembles love and trust in the odyssey is between Odysseus & Penelope, as well as with his son, Telemachus.
The Trojan War is a war between the Greeks and the city of Troy. Odyssey is fighting among a number of other Greek heroes. Odysseus fights in the war and takes 10 years to get back home. During this time, he experiences genuine hospitality in some places more than others. Hospitality is a major theme because the act and lack of it are expressed through the epic poem. In Greek tradition, hosts are expected to provide food for their guests. Odysseus does not always experience that type of hospitality. For example, Calypso does not show great hospitality towards Odysseus; she holds him as a prisoner. She falls in love with him & holds him captive. However, the Phaeacians offer Odysseus gifts and even help him find his way to Ithaca. Also, “You’re dumb, stranger, or from far away if you ask me to fear the gods. Cyclopes don’t care about Zeus or his aegis or the blessed gods, since we are much stronger. I wouldn’t spare you or your men out of fear of Zeus. I would spare them only if I myself wanted to (Homer 276).….” “There found Nestor sitting with his sons. All around him were men preparing for the feast, Skewering meat on spits and roasting it. But when they saw the new arrivals, they all crowded around, clapping their hands in welcome and inviting them to sit down. Nestor’s son Peisistratus was first, taking them both by the hand and having sat down at the feast on soft fleeces spread on the sandy beach beside his father and Thrasymedes his brother. Then he gave them servings of the inner organs and poured wine into a golden cup. Passing it on to Pallas Athena, he spoke directly to her (Homer 199).” The quote signifies that even though Odysseus is not from here, he is still respected. General hospitality is cultural.
While Odysseus is away at war, his wife, Penelope, resists men who try to take Odysseus’ spot. The quote “ There is nothing more admirable than when two people who see eye to eye keep house as man and wife, confounding their enemies and delighting their friends.” signifies how beautiful it is that Penelope remains loyal to Odysseus. It also signifies that they have a great amount of trust in each other.
Odyssey has a strong love for his wife, Penelope & his son, Telemachus. Odysseus asks Penelope’s uncle for permission to marry her. The kings all fight over Penelope’s cousin, Helen, but Odysseus stops the kings from fighting; he gets Penelope. The Greek kings all agree to a pact: “We must all defend the man who married Helen, that way we avoid civil war.” Odysseus & Penelope get married & have a son, Telemachus. When Odysseus leaves for the Trojan War, numerous suites are begging to marry her, but Penelope refuses. The suitors constantly attempt to convince Penelope that Odysseus will not return. Both Penelope and Telemachus resist the suitors attempting to take Odysseus’ place while he is gone off to war. Telemachus says this about the suitors: “Since you ask me these questions as my guest- This, no doubt, was once a perfect house, wealthy and fine, when its master was still home. But the gods frown and change all that when they whisk him off the face of the earth-. I would not grieve for him so much if he were dead. Gone down with his comrades in the town of Troy, or died in his friends’ arms after winding up the war. The entire Greek army would have buried him then, and great honor would have passed on to his son. But now the whirlwinds have passed on to his son. But now the whirlwinds have snatched him away without a trace. He’s vanished, gone, and left me pain and sorrow. And he’s not the only cause I have to grieve. The gods have given me other trials. All of the nobles who rule the islands- Doulichium, Same, wooded Zacynthus-and all those with power on rocky Ithaca are courting my mother and ruining our house. She refuses to make a marriage she hates, but can’t stop it either. They are eating us out of house and home, and will kill me someday (Homer 183-184).” When Odysseus finally returns, Penelope is in shock and can not believe that it is him. There is a secret about the bed that only they know about, so Penelope decides to test him. They both know the bed does not move, but she asks him to move it to another chamber. Odysseus is hurt by the fact that Penelope does not believe that it is really him. He says to Penelope, “ Woman – your words, they cut me to the core! Who could move my bed? Impossible task… I know, I built it myself.” (Homer Lines 205-206, 213). Then he questions her by saying, “There’s our secret sign, I tell you, our life story! Does the bed, my lady, still stand planted firm?” (Homer Lines 226-227). Penelope now realizes that it is really him and after twenty years, bursts into tears and runs into his arms.
The scene of the two reuniting shines a light on the love and trust theme. Penelope plays her “gender role” by continuing to take care of the children and the household. Although she is approached with temptation by the suitors to remarry, she loves her husband enough to remain loyal, even though everything was going downhill. What the suitors fail to realize is, Penelope was 100% committed to her husband. Odysseus, himself, tells Penelope that if he does not return before Telemachus grows a beard on his chin, he wants her to pick another man to remarry. One part of her slightly doubts that he may never return, while another part of her still has faith that he is still alive and will return. Even after twenty years of Odysseus being gone to war, Penelope never loses faith in her husband’s return. This defines that true love is everlasting.