The Importance of Book Xi to the Odyssey Essay

1182 Words Mar 2nd, 2006 5 Pages
In the beginning of Book XI, Odysseus goes to Hades where people confront him from his past, present and future. He is confused and dazed and seems to change as the different characters address him. All of the elements of Book XI show that it is the most pivotal book in Odysseus's voyage homeward and in the development of his character.
In Book XI, Homer reinforces major themes that repeat through the rest of the story that show Odysseus he can get home using the ideas seen throughout the text. Hospitality is a theme in Book XI that occurs in many of the other books of The Odyssey. The soldiers give hospitality toward Hades and Persephone though their sacrifices so that Odysseus can visit the Underworld. This is an example of irony in the
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Odysseus left for Troy when Telemakhos was born, so father does not know son and son does not know father. In this book, Odysseus's mother tells him, "Telemakhos has care of all your garden plots and field, and holds the public honor of a magistrate, feasting and being feasted" (191). Upon hearing this, Odysseus must feel proud of a son he never knew but will know.
Book XI also verifies for Odysseus that life should be lived to the fullest, which helps Odysseus want to continue living. Akhilleus is the most significant person to talk to Odysseus about life's importance. Odysseus tells him that he needs not be saddened by his death and should embrace it because it has to be better than life. To this Akhilleus says, "better, I say, to break sod as a farm hand for some poor country man, on iron rations, than lord it over all the exhausted dead" (201). Akhilleus is telling Odysseus to "always look on the bright side of life" (Monty Python's Life of Brian, 1979) and to appreciate life, no matter the ups or downs.
In Book XI, Odysseus's character clearly develops in many ways, which is important in Odysseus's journey home. He receives information about his family and makes him want to go home. When his mother, Antikleia, and Odysseus reconnect in Hades, she tells him of his wife and son's plight, and also about his father who "is country bound and comes to town no more" (191) in his sorrow over Odysseus's absence. This information saddens Odysseus and

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