Odysseus, Adonis, and Thor
Section I: "Odysseus, The Most Cunning Man In The World."
Odysseus, son of Procris and Cephalus of the Royal House of
Athens, played a major role in the Trojan War. However, the
legends of Odysseus do not begin until after the great war.
At the end of the war he was separated from the rest of the
Greek armies and was forced to wander for ten years until
he was reunited with his family. His journeys in those ten
years were very similar to Jason's journey in his search
for the Golden Fleece. Also, in the course of Odysseus'
adventures, he proved himself to be not only a great hero
but also a cunning and resourceful man, worthy of the title
the most cunning man in the world.
There are many similarities between the adventures of Jason
and those of Odysseus. Both heroes proved themselves to be
mighty warriors; Jason, when forced to battle against the
soldiers of the dragon teeth and Odysseus during the long
battles of Troy. Both heroes showed extreme courage in the
face of danger and neither shied from doing what was
necessary to complete their quest. Both men were also very
modest and were able to except help when needed, either
form gods or from other mortals. Jason did not hesitate to
ask for help from the princess Medea. Odysseus accepted
help from a simple sheep herder in order to reclaim his
home. Although these two heroes had similar adventures and
shared similar qualities, they were very different.
The first difference we notice between these two heroes is
their lineage. Like most Greek heroes, Jason was a direct
descendant of the gods. Odysseus on the other hand was not.
He was a member of the Royal House of Athens and not divine
as were many of his peers and relatives. Odysseus was also
more compassionate than Jason. Jason used people to his own
end and then disregarded them. An example of this would be
his relationship with Medea. She made him into the hero he
was, saved his life many times, and left her homeland to
follow her love Jason. Jason, however, upon reaching home
with the Golden Fleece, decided to marry a princess to gain
more political power. He made this decision with no thought
towards Medea's feelings and her love for him. Odysseus, in
contrast, was far more loyal to his family and followers.
He placed their happiness and safety on an equal or greater
level then his own. For instance, when he was on the island
with Calypso, the nymph, it would have been very easy for
him to abandon his desire to return home and live in
perfect comfort forever. We see his concern again on the
Island with the witch Circe. After the witch had turned all
of Odysseus's companions into swine, Odysseus with little
or no thought for his own safety, went to confront the
witch to save his crew. However, the most notable
difference between these heroes lies not in they're
adventures but rather in how they approached and dealt with
Jason, like most Greek heroes, felt that the easiest way to
deal with a problem was to kill it. Odysseus, on the other
hand thought of other possible solutions to his problems.
He would try to use his intellect as well as his brawn to
accomplish his goals. Throughout his adventures and as
early as the Trojan War, we see Odysseus's cunning. It is
he who is attributed with the idea for the Trojan horse (a
large hollow horse filled with Greek soldiers). A second
example was when he landed on the island of the Cyclops
during his adventures. The Cyclops demanded to know who he
was to which he answered "I am Noman" With those words he
shot an arrow and blinded the Cyclops's one eye. During
Odysseus' retreat, another cyclops approached the first and
asked what happened to his eye. The first cyclops responded
that no man had shot his eye. This ensured Odysseus's
escape from the island because the second cyclops didn't
realize there were intruders. A last example of his cunning
is at the end of his adventures. Odysseus returned home and
found all the suitors there. Dressed as a beggar, he had no
trouble retaking his bow and then killing all of the
suitors. So we see that Odysseus could rely on both his wit
and his strength to save him from dangerous situations.
This is why he was given the title " the most cunning man
in the world."
Section II: " Adonis"
Cherry-lipt Adonis in his snowie shape,
Might not compare with his pure Iuorie white,
On whose faire front a Poets pen may write,
Whose rosiate red excels the crimson grape,
His loue-enticing delicate soft limbs,
Are rarely fram'd tintrap poore gazing eies:
His cheekes, the Lillie and carnation dies,
With louely tincture which Apolloes dims,
His lips ripe strawberries in Nectar wet,
His mouth a Hiue, his tongue a hony-combe,
Where Muses (like Bees) make their mansion.
His teeth pure Pearle in blushing Correl set.
Oh how can such a body sinne-procuring,
Be slow to loue, and quike to hate enduring?
A classical allusion can be defined as an indirect although
not accidental reference to a Greek or Roman legend. In
this poem there are three classical allusions all referring
to Greek mythology Adonis, Phoebus Apollo and the Muses.
These references are intrinsic to the poem as without them
the poem would be meaningless and hollow.
The first allusion refers to Adonis, son of Phoenix and
Alphesiboea, a Greek hero. This allusion was used because
this poem is an ode to Adonis (the poem was written for
Adonis). The second classical allusion we see in this poem
is to Apollo. Apollo is god of prophecy, music, and
archery. He is also known as the sun god. His name was
invoked in this poem in order to show Adonis's beauty. It
shows us that Adonis was so beautiful that the mighty
Apollo had to dim the tint of Adonis's cheeks. The final
allusion is to the Muses. The Muses were the goddesses who
inspired artists. From this we can learn that they loved
beauty. This is why they are used in this poem. They, like
Apollo, are here to show us Adonis's great beauty. Due to
the fact that Adonis is so beautiful, the Muses, patron of
the artists, yearn to make their home on Adonis's tongue in
order to surround themselves with his radiance.
These allusions add a sense of nostalgia to the poem a
throw back to the days of gods and goddesses. The poet
could have used less connotative words to tell us how
beautiful he was. But Barnfield's use of the allusions
gives us a better understanding of how magnificent Adonis
must have been. By using the name of Apollo and the Muses,
we see that he must have been divine because no mere mortal
could look that way, only a Greek hero.
Section III: " Thor, Then and Now"
There are very few differences between the Thor of the
Norse mythology and Thor of today's comic book hero.
Today's Thor is a muscular man who appears to be in his
late 20's. He has blonde hair and wears a red cape. The old
Thor had red hair and was a middle aged man. Although this
Thor did not look very heroic, he had all the other
trappings of Thor, Mjolnir (Thor's hammer), the iron gloves
needed to hold Mjolnir and Thor's belt which doubled his
strength. All of these accessories are present in the
comics as well. In the comics, Thor has the ability to
change into a regular man, with a walking stick, by tapping
Mjolnir on the ground. When this "normal" man then taps his
walking stick on the ground, he once again becomes the
mighty Thor. The final difference between the comics and
the legend is Thor's brother Balder. According to legend,
this god was killed by a blind god (with the help of Loki
god of mischief) and the gods begged Hela, goddess, of
death to spare Balder the beloved. Hela refused and Balder
entered the land of the dead. In the comics Odin, the all
father (Zeus), was able to save his son by sacrificing a
part of his power, creating the Odinshield to preserve his
son. Other than these few differences the Thor you read in
Marvel comic books is the same one as in the legends. He
still protects the people of midguard (earth) and waits for
the day of Rangorak (Doom's day) where Thor will battle
Jormungandr (the snake circling midguard) and the two will
kill each other and destroy the world in the process. While
today's version of Thor barely resembles his Greek
counterparts, he very much resembles his roots in the Norse
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