“Strong in will to strive, to seek, to find and not to yield…. Now in the brief and tiny span that still remains to you of waking life, refuse not to explore whatever lies behind the sun, the world where no man is.”
-Homer’s Odysseus in “The Odyssey”
I first read The Odyssey (said to be the sequel of the Iliad) in 8th grade. I was so bored, I felt as if the story never picked up and I found myself tossing the book aside, only to pick it up several months later, at the end of the semester in order to complete the assignment. I was slow to approach the book again this year due to my earlier defeat, years ago.
In deciding to read this book again I searched far and wide for reviews that would convince me to do so. I felt inside that I must read it but my head was telling me to put some distance between it and myself. It was actually the lack of opinion that caused me to think up and launch Oracle Insider, so it is fitting that it is my first book to review. It was one of my best decisions early in 2016. I found that in this season of my life, it was the exact book that I needed. I suggest this book to the young and the restless. Specifically those who are either ending high school (without intentions of going to college) or those ending college. It is fitting to one who has the entire world as their oyster, especially those who have a desire to learn a new language, travel the world, or meet people in foreign lands.
I found myself completely grabbed by the many people whom which Odysseus encountered. When he meets the cyclops at the beginning of the book, and the process of outwitting it in order to escape… How would I handle being thrown into prison in a foreign country? Trying to get home I am accused of wrongdoing by my would-be final opponent. Judge, Jury and Executioner all in one decide to end my life for such an assault. Yet he escapes to then find the Phoenicians, what a lovely people. Exaltation of athleticism and beauty in a foreign land bid this mighty warrior of handsome looks a very fine fortune indeed. I found myself learning more manners as I read of Odysseus’ encounter with the Phoenicians. I now make sure to give a gift to people when they enter my home, be that a beer or a glass of wine, or maybe a meal if they are hungry. And to send them away with a gift as well. I love how he apologizes for not having something to give to them, what if the world was more generous in its encounters? Can one person create such a trend?
Homer so captures the yearning in one’s soul of a desire to experience the world. He does so in the form of a character who is trying to get home, yet one adventure after another stir the heart forward. He is finally able to make it home, only to find his entire country on edge, his wife being vigorously pursued by younger men who are wasting away his estate, and his son needing his father to call him into manhood. The story concludes in redemption of his life and restoration of all that was damaged in his absence. Yet in its conclusion, a hint of the desire to remain in the uncomfortable world of adventure rings louder than the peace felt by his return.
I found my adventurer heart shouting out these words upon the story’s end.
The unresting spirit within me seeks further into the horizon, reaching forward as the bow of a ship stretching across the ocean blue into distance expanses of my soul, in deeper search of you. Desire sets my heart aflame. Not for that which I’ve seen does my heart so long, but for golden sands upon which my compass is set.
Believed to have been written sometime near the end of the 8th century BC. That’s like over 2700 years ago… Time tells many truths, and greatness stands the test of time.
About the Author:
Several different sources claim him to have lived at different times. Some as old as 1102 BC, about 168 years after the fall of Troy (Based off of the a bust of Xerxes I), Herodotus places him about 400 years before his own time (850 BC). At that time, men had much longer life spans, and I rest on not knowing his exact time of life, but dabble in the fantasy that he was possibly alive at both of these times. He was known in Ancient Greece as the first and greatest of the epic poets, often called the “First Teacher” or “Father of Learning”.
Who should read it?
The adventurer spirit.
The ones as I mentioned above who are stepping into a season of openness in their journey.
Who shouldn’t approach it right now?
Those who are looking more for serious growth from their reading, this book is not going to stretch you much more than reading capacity and open-mindedness.
Those who are still in a time of waiting or what I refer to as the grind. This book, along with several others, found me in that season and created a combustion chamber within me to travel and burst out. Due to the adventurer spirit referred to above.
Oracle Insider Rating: 7.5 out of 10.
“Men are so quick to blame the gods: they say that we devise their misery. But they themselves- in their depravity- design grief greater than the griefs that fate assigns.”
So quick are we to blame God for our woes and sufferings. For death and evil, yet we attribute to ourselves the things that are good. Do we recognize how often we are the sowers of our sufferings, and how often the good He does goes unnoticed?
“Immortals are never alien to one another.”
Greatness knows greatness. If you want to be great, surround yourself with those who are great. If you cannot leave behind those who pull on you and bring you down, you alone are the cause of not coming to claim all that destiny hath in store.
“Even his griefs are a joy long after to one that remembers all that he wrought and endured.”
I’ve always thought our greatest weakness as humans is our bad memory. If you were to truly lock in your mind all great things you’ve seen, everything that at one moment inspired awe within you, every miracle you’ve ever witnessed, every time He provided what you called for, would you ever doubt Him? Would your faith ever dwindle? Could you do anything but worship Him?
“For they imagined as they wished–that it was a wild shot, an unintended killing–fools, not to comprehend they were already in the grip of death. But glaring under his brows Odysseus answered:
‘You yellow dogs, you thought I’d never make it/ home from the land of Troy. You took my house to plunder, twisted my maids to serve your beds. You dared bid for my wife while I was still alive. Contempt was all you had for the gods who rule wide heaven, contempt for what men say of you hereafter. Your last hour has come. You die in blood.”
I find myself overwhelmed by the passion of Odysseus in this moment. He has gone to war with Troy and spent 10 years trying to get home. He wants nothing but his wife, his son and his country. Yet finds it in complete disarray, with his not just his throne being desired, but his very wife. His soul’s covenant being made for. He is so enraged in vengeance that he wills the death of 100 men, alongside his friend, Mentor, and sees it through. This reminds me of the passion of Christ and the vengeance he will bestow on those who attempt for his bride. Few images do we find of righteous anger portrayed so well.
“…he’ll never lie – the man is far too wise.”
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