The most important Odyssean theme in the Odyssey (written by the Homer a Greek poet) is homecoming. The Greek epic is about Odysseus the great tactician of Troy trying to get home to see his beloved wife and to see his son and family. The epic deals with Odysseus' troubles and obstacles he comes across on his ten-year journey. Throughout Homer's epic poem there are a number of important themes that come across to the audience.


Thinking of hospitality as a major theme in a literary work may seem odd to modern readers. In Homer’s world, however, hospitality is one of the laws of Zeus. Arriving strangers may be dangerous or just simple beggars. To welcome a stranger in to your home is showing trust and your good, kind nature to your fellow human beings. This is important to people in Homer's time because it was a way to find out news and someday they may need to rely upon someone’s hospitality themselves. Hospitality or the lack of it, affects Odysseus throughout the epic. Odysseus’ palace, while he has been away, has been taken over by the suitors who are looking for Penelope’s hand in marriage. The suitors show no kind of hospitality to strangers and have abused the hospitality of Telemachus and Penelope. Telemachus is not old enough and lacks the strength to get rid of the suitors. On his journey, Odysseus receives help from the Phaeacians, who are the ones that bring Odysseus back to Ithaca, and also from Circe. Circe shows Odysseus and his men great hospitality after he defeated her trickery. The Cyclops Polyphemus on the other hand shows bad hospitality by eating some of Odysseus' men.


Another theme in Homers epic is loyalty. The most obvious example of loyalty in the epic is, of course, Penelope, who waits faithfully for Odysseus for 20 years Another example is Odysseus’s son Telemachus, who even though lost faith in his father still being alive shows his loyalty by standing by his father side against the suitors which is ironic because while Calypso was with Odysseus she was collecting that coin. Odysseus and Telemachus old nurse, Eurycleia, remains loyal to Odysseus and his family. Eumaeus, the swineherd, who has always been loyal to Odysseus and his family, also shows great hospitality to the beggar Odysseus. In contrast are goatherd Melanthius and his sister the maid Melantho. Melanthius has become friendly with the suitors and attacks and insults beggar Odysseus. Melantho goes even further, sleeping with the enemy, showing her disloyalty to Penelope and the household. The disloyal servants are soon dealt with after the suitors. Odysseus kills them all.


Odysseus and his wife Penelope show an amazing amount of perseverance. Odysseus has been absent for 20 years, 10 at the Trojan War and 10 more in his journey home. According to the leader of the suitors, Antinous, Penelope has persevered against the suitor’s advancements for four years, using her intelligence and cunning to keep them at bay. This is shown by her trick with the shroud she was weaving and unweaving for Laertes.

Odysseus’ perseverance is legendary... Through the use of his intelligence, courage, strength, and determination, he endures Gods, monsters and even traveling into the underworld.


Poseidon and Odysseus are the most noticeable representatives of the theme of vengeance. In order to escape from the cave of the Cyclops Polyphemus, Odysseus blinds him. Unfortunately, the Cyclops is one of Poseidon’s sons. Odysseus has made a very powerful enemy. Poseidon can’t kill Odysseus because that would be defying Zeus. However, the sea god can hinder Odysseus’ journey home. Odysseus’ vengeance is formidable when it is directed toward the suitors and his disloyal servants. In the surprise attack (Book 22), Odysseus kills the suitors’ leader, Antinous, first with an arrow through the throat; he then kills the second most important leader Eurymachus, with an arrow in the liver. Melanthius and Melantho die more slowly after the slaughter of the suitors. Odysseus is avenging the lack of hospitality shown to him and his family.

Appearance versus RealityEdit

The theme of appearance versus reality runs throughout the book. The two most obvious ones are when Odysseus adopted the name “nobody” to escape the Cyclops. After escaping though Odysseus made one of his biggest mistakes, by shouting his real name to the Cyclops causing the feud between him and Poseidon. The other that most remember is the disguise of beggar Odysseus. He used this disguise to infiltrate his palace and have the advantage of a surprise attack to defeat the suitors. Not until the first death of the battle is the reality revealed to the suitors that the king is back.


Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.