The Epic Heroe's Journey

Essay by deitcha33Junior High, 9th gradeA+, November 2006

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Odysseus' Initiation

"The Odyssey", an epic poem written by Homer, is a story of a hero's journey. Odysseus, the hero, wanders for ten years at sea while trying to find his home after conquering Troy for the Greeks. Odysseus' journey, while lost at sea, follows the elements of the mythic Heroes Journey, as written by Joseph Campbell. Campbell's work can be broken into three main parts: departure, initiation, and return. The part best depicted by the Odyssey is the initiation, which takes place during Odysseus' ten years of wandering. Joseph Campbell describes the hero in this stage of the journey as, "once having traversed the threshold, the hero moves in a dream landscape of curiously fluid, ambiguous forms, where he must survive a succession of trials."(Campbell 97) As a mythic hero, Odysseus must endure different trials as part of his initiation, which must occur before he can truly undergo a transformation of consciousness.

These include his battle with the Cyclops, his encounter with the Sirens, and his decision between Scylla and Charybdis, which are all greatly important trials he must overcome on his journey.

Odysseus' first trial arises at the land of the Cyclopes. Odysseus and a few of his men, in desperate need of provisions, venture to a cave where one Cyclopes named Polyphemus lived. This great beast would be out most of the day tending to his flock. Odysseus' men desire to gather what they need and leave, but Odysseus disagrees. His curiosity leads him to direct his men into the cave and wait for the beast to return. "I wished to see the caveman, what he had to offer."(Odyssey 171) The Cyclopes later returned and moved a massive boulder over the cave entrance. Once trapped inside, Odysseus and his men reveal themselves to Polyphemus. The Cyclopes...