Weeping in The Odyssey

Essay by thekingandqueenHigh School, 11th gradeA+, December 2008

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In The Odyssey Homer shows that while strong characters acknowledge that they must succumb to deep, painful emotions, weak, dependent characters cover them up to try in vain to prove that they are strong. They view crying as a weakness, a reduction of masculinity, whereas the strong know that is essential to moving on from certain feelings. Ultimately, the repression of feelings will amount to a sort of blindness that will expose the weak to much danger. The manly Odysseus, the aspiring man Telemachus, as well as the stoical Penelope weep very frequently. When Odysseus returns home after twenty years and identifies himself to his son, the two of them embrace and weep. Telemachus had been without a father for many years, while Odysseus endured the perils that he faced while trying to return home. Similarly, Penelope is a strong woman that plays mind games with her husband through stoicism.

However, she still releases her painful emotions about her husband through crying, knowing that this action is not a reflection on her bold character. Telemachus, Odysseus, and Penelope have all endured certain hardships and have overcome them. They are able to face their emotions and accordingly release them by weeping.

However, the suitors are not only immoral characters guilty of hubris and being inhospitable guests, they are also weak characters who need to be in great multitude in order to have any power. The suitors, who never cried, have not gained strength through adversity and are accordingly weak. The suitors scoff at people for weeping, “Yokels, fools–you can’t tell night from day!/You mawkish idiots why are you sniveling here?...” (Book 21 – lines 98-99) They hide their painful emotions, frustrations about not being able to gain the love of Penelope, and act on the immoral, weak concept: greed. Not only do they repress these feelings, but also those of uncertainty as to what is going to happen to them. They should have had their eyes open to the signs of danger; their repression of feelings led to blindness as to what was going on around them. It is ironic because the suitors repressed their feelings in order to try to prove to others that they are strong, yet this action led to their imminent deaths; the act of suppressing their feelings turns out to be their ultimate weakness.

Bibliography:The Odyssey by Homer