The overall story arc of Homer’s epic poem, The Odyssey, is one of going home. The whole ten-year journey of Odysseus is ultimately aimed at getting home again to his wife and son. Odysseus must endure many trials and difficulties in order to get home.
There are numerous examples of how highly the ancient Greeks valued the notion of home in The Odyssey. The paragraph that best conveys the idea is as follows:
“I drove them, all three wailing, to the ships,
tied them down under their rowing benches,
and called the rest: ‘All hands aboard;
come, clear the beach and no one taste
the Lotus, or you lose your hope of home.’”
The theme of yearning for one’s homeland runs throughout The Odyssey. However, Book 9 is the one that best conveys the concept. Odysseus and his men encounter Lotus-eaters while on their way home from Troy. The inhabitants are not hostile; however, eating the lotus plant causes Odysseus' men to lose memory and all desire to return home. Odysseus warns the rest of his men not to eat the Lotus and ties up the three men in an attempt to bring them home anyway.
Throughout the entire story Odysseus is just trying to find his home once again. Home, or Ithaca as it is for Odysseus, signifies the end of the struggle, the end of the battle, and possibly the end of his life. “Yet every day, while absent thus I roam,/ I languish to return and die at home.” Odysseus longs for his life to end where he is comfortable and surrounded by those whom he loves.
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