On Violence, War, and Peace in Sophocles and Homer

The significance and influence of the works of Homer and Sophocles cannot be overstated, and there is no doubt that the ‘Odyssey’ and ‘Oedipus Rex’ are both masterpieces of world literature.  These texts are crucially important examples of Greek mythological writing, but are also highly interesting when seen as political documents of a kind, texts about war and peace, kingship, imperialism, xenophobic hatred, and so on. Although the violent conflicts depicted in these works are fictional, they may well have been inspired by the real-life fighting that was persistent among the city-states of Greece.  Therefore, in this Blogpost, I want you to think about the ‘Odyssey’ and ‘Oedipus Rex’ not strictly as a mythological texts but as political documents, as creative acts that negotiate the day’s crises of power and authority.  To do so, I want you to address a particular war-oriented theme – such as violence, hatred, justice, mercy, authority, surrender, and negotiation – and examine that theme as presented in a particular speech or passage from the ‘Odyssey’.  Then, I’d like you to do the same with regards to the political content in a vital moment from ‘Oedipus Rex’.  In your discussion, you might bring the two texts into conversation and, at minimum, should identify the central issue(s) of your chosen lines, and detail the challenges and logic of the characters regarding the subject.  You should also feel free to offer some thoughts about what YOU think about the topic within the context of these stories (if not the culture of Greece more generally).

25 thoughts on “On Violence, War, and Peace in Sophocles and Homer

  1. In this post, I plan on examining how negotiation is used in two pieces of Greek literature, Homer’s “Odyssey”, and Sophocles’ “Oedipus Rex”. Both pieces have many examples of violence, as both are about war in one way or another. The Odyssey follows Odysseus on his travels following the Trojan War, in which he comes across many violent situations, and Oedipus Rex involves the main character, King Oedipus, interrogating people in an attempt to find out who murdered the previous king.
    In the Odyssey, Odysseus finds often finds himself in a place where he has to lead his team through a sticky situation. Many times all it takes is for him to make a quick decision, but sometimes he has to negotiate with someone to get out of the situation. A classic example of this is when he and his men are stuck on an island with Circe, a witch-goddess who falls in love with Odysseus, and turns his men to swine. After living with her for a year, Odysseus decides he is ready to continue his journey, and must convince Circe to turn his men back into people. He accomplishes this, and the men continue their journey back home. Another time negotiation had to be used along Odysseus’s travels is when they find themselves at Ogygia, the home of Calypso. Calypso also falls in love with Odysseus, and holds him captive until Hermes eventually persuaded her to let him go.
    Likewise, negotiation is used, a little more violently, in Oedipus Rex. Oedipus is greatly troubled by the puzzle of who murdered his predecessor, and feels like it his duty to find who did it. He also is concerned that whoever killed the previous king might come for his head as well. Therefore, Oedipus calls in several knowledgeable people, interrogating them vigorously. In most instances, the people he had brought in offered no help to him, but he refused to believe this, and instead thought they were just keeping things from him. To try to get them to spill the beans, he threatened physical violence many times. An example of this is when Oedipus is questioning an old herdsman, and says, “If you’ll not talk to gratify me, you will talk with pain to urge you.” Essentially what he is saying here is that if the herdsman does not tell him what he wants to hear, he will die.
    These two literary pieces give examples of negotiation being used in positive and negative ways, much like how it is still used today. Odysseus uses negotiation to get himself out of bad situation, much like the army often has to negotiate with its enemies to get them to free prisoners. Oedipus uses negotiation as almost a form of torture, playing the “bad cop” in the situation, trying to get an answer out of innocent people. There aren’t many ways in which negotiation has changed since the time of the Ancient Greeks, as far as is seen in these two pieces. It depended then, and it still does now, on who is doing the negotiating and what their intentions are. This means that either the Greeks were very advanced in their skills of negotiation, or we have not done much improving of it since then.

  2. After finishing both “The Odyssey” and “Oedipus the King” it is quite apparent how the two share some similarities. While the plot of both pieces may not be identical, they share the common themes of violence, hatred, justice, mercy, authority, surrender, and negotiation in some way. In this blog post, I’ll be focusing on the violence that is shown in both pieces.

    In “The Odyssey”, there are many battle scenes throughout the epic. Each fight involves some kind of violent act and inevitably death. The most descriptive example I found was in Book Nine, where Odysseus and his men are facing the cyclops. “His hands reached out, seized two of them, and smashed them to the ground like puppies. Their brains spattered out and oozed into the dirt. He tore them limb from limb…” This section seems to be the most violent description, however, there are plenty of other battle scenes that are just as dark. The epic seems to almost show that violence is always the answer whenever you’re in trouble.

    In “Oedipus the King” violence is not shown as often, yet it still makes an appearance. When Oedipus explains to Jocasta what had happened at the crossroads, he recalls being so angry that he ended up killing his father, obviously without realizing who it was. Another example of the violence shown in this piece is when the Second Messenger tells of how Oedipus has blinded himself. “And bleeding eyeballs gushed and stained his beard- no sluggish oozing drops but a black rain and bloody hail poured down.” It clearly is a very graphic description of what Oedipus has done to himself. This piece also reflects on violence as a way of dealing with situations.

    Overall, in my opinion violence should be a last resort measure. Ancient Greece seemed to glorify violence in a way that we may not in today’s society. There are usually more than one ways to handle a situation and one of those options is always a nonviolent solution. Both Odysseus and Oedipus seem to use their fight response in their “fight-or-flight modes”, but if both had just taken the time to figure things out it may have ended less gory and bloody in the end.

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  4. A major theme in both Homer’s ‘Odyssey’ and Sophocle’ ‘Oedipus Rex’ is violence. It appears as if a majority of the problems in both of these stories begins with violence. Whether its Odysseus, Oedipus or the Gods, the characters seem to be extremely rash in their decisions, never really thinking them through and just reacting. To make matters worse, whenever some type of brutality is used problems occur and ironically, the main characters tend to use violence to solve these issues.
    In Homer’s ‘Odyssey’, there are two major examples of violence. The first one is when Odysseus decides to put a rod through the cyclopse’s eye while he was sleeping. Had he not done this, his ~20 year trip back home could have been just a few months. However, the cyclops told his father Poseidon to get revenge which he did. Almost all of Odysseus’ issues could have been avoided had he been a bit more rational. The second example comes from the end of the story, when Odysseus and his son Telemachus Brutally murder all of Penelope’s suitors.
    As for Sophocles’ story of King Oedupis, there are three events I found to be important in this story. Violence is ultimately the root of his demise as well. To start things off, Oedupis was doomed before he even found out his fate. It began with his journey to Pytho. He ran in to a group of travelers who he murdered. Had he not murdered them he wouldn’t be in such a bad situation, just as Odysseus. Later on in his life he discovered that one of the men was actually his father and that led into another act of violence. He threatened to murder his dear friend, Creon because he thought that he may have committed the murder. It was such an unjustified threat because in the end of the story we find out that it was actually Oedupis who killed him. The last act of violence was actually one of self-harm when Oedupis stabbed his own eyes out of shame. All of this stemmed from just one act of violence in the beginning of the story.
    Overall, the themes relating to violence are quite obvious. Many problems in these peoples lives are caused by initial acts of violence. More than just that, in the case of ‘Odeupis The King’ his problems affected an entire kingdom of people just how in Homer’s ‘Odyssey’ an entire crew and that large group of suitors all ended up dead as a result of a single violent act. When strung together, violence runs these stories, and ultimately decides all of the characters’ fate.

  5. ODYSSEY

    The theme of Justice is very apparent through the story of the Odyssey; however, it is usually served in a very violent matter. The character of Orestes seeks justice for his father who was cheated on by killing the offender Aigithos. The god Helios seeks justice for Odysseus’ men killing one of his cattle by having Zeus strike their boat, killing all of Odysseus’ men. All are acts of violence, but they are all ultimately seen as acts of victims seeking justice against a certain guilty party. A more impactful or recurring example of this theme comes from Poseidon’s justice against Odysseus stabbing his son Polyphemus. When Zeus discusses this quarrel with Athene, he says:

    “But Poseidon is stiff and cold with anger
    Because Odysseus blinded his son, the Cyclops
    Polyphemus, the strongest of all the Cyclopes,
    Nearly a god
    The Earthshaker has been after Odysseus
    Ever since, not killing him, but keeping him away
    From his native land.”

    To Poseidon, he is seeking justice for his blinded son by messing with Odysseus, and forcing him to wander the seas, and face life-threatening situations for about 10 years straight. By reading through the other books, and seeing these various trials that Odysseus had to traverse in his journey, one might think that it was a bit of an overkill setting up such intense trials for our main character. Especially when you bring in the fact that Odysseus only stabbed the Cyclops because he had provoked them first. This draws from the topic of authority in Justice. To the average person in the modern age, authority doesn’t really play a huge part when it comes to the ethics of right and wrong. If you murdered someone then you should be punished despite your social status. Therefore, we now would see Poseidon as unjustified in this situation since Polyphemus “deserved” to be stabbed in the eyes. However, to the people of Greece, gods were seen as people who had the right to do as they pleased, especially if they were angered by something. So, in this case, the Greek’s wouldn’t question the ethics of a god like Poseidon or a “nearly god” like Polyphemus in this situation, out of respect for authority or even possibly out of fear of the gods cursing them for their questioning.

    OEDIPUS

    The same theme of “violent justice” does carry over to the story of Oedipus The King, specifically when Oedipus discusses with the public or others about what will happen to the one who had killed the former King Laius. When speaking with the Chorus, he makes this claim:

    “But if you shall keep silence hear what I shall do then I forbid any to welcome him or cry him greeting or make him a sharer in sacrifice or offering to the Gods, or give him water for his hands to wash. I command all to drive him from their homes, since he is our pollution, as the oracle of Pytho’s God proclaimed him now to me Upon the murderer, I invoke this curse— whether he is one man and all unknown, or one of many—may he wear out his life in misery to miserable doom!”

    Here Oedipus seeks to serve justice through forcing the convicted murder to live a life of constant misery. There is also another interaction that happens later on in the story, between Creon and Oedipus, where Creon asks, “What do you want to do then? Banish me?” and Oedipus replies with “No, certainly; kill you, not banish you.” Oedipus’ final act of violent justice is aimed towards himself, and after he discovers that he was the one who had murdered King Laius he decides that the proper punishment is to gauge his eyes out. Much like in the Odyssey, these scenes use excessive violence and leads to intense sequences. However, if this were to happen today, I don’t believe it would end with the convicted man gauging his eyes out as punishment as our justice system is not as barbaric or even as impulsive as the one that was laid out in Oedipus Rex. That could stem from the Greek perspective on authority, like with the Gods in the Odyssey. The fact that Oedipus is King and was also the one who drove the Sphinx out of Thebes, the townspeople look up to Oedipus and trust his judgment more, or they could also just be scared of what he might do if they question his actions.

    Overall, our sense of justice seems to have evolved over time, and it does not really share the same violent nature that is present in both of these stories. Most of the time the violence depicted was very overblown, which could be due to the fact that the people who were executing these actions held some position of power (whether that be God or King). Or perhaps that was just more interesting to read? Either way the theme of “violent justice” shows up numerous times in both of these stories, helps to possibly establish character social status and intensity, and also goes to show just how different we view justice today.

  6. In my opinion, hatred is a dirty and disgusting thing. Even though Oedipus’s father deserved to be cursed, he was hated for all the wrong reasons. The Gods only cursed him because abducting and raping a King’s boy went against the hospitality rules, not because he ABDUCTED and RAPED a boy. So he definitely should have been hated and punished, but for everything else besides hospitality. Also, I can understand why Poseidon would hate Odysseus, but he should have realized his son Polythemos was a huge jerk and deserved to be stabbed in the eye. Odysseus was only trying to save him and his men. Overall, I believe people should be hated for the right reasons, and these stories show what to not hate people for.

  7. It is fairly easy to agree upon the fact that ancient Greek myths such as “The Odyssey” by Homer and Sophocles’ “Oedipus Rex” are crucial masterpieces. They touch upon central political themes such as hatred, violence, peace, kingship, etc. However, I believe hatred is very apparent in the two myths and quite simple to talk about.
    In “The Odyssey”, much of the story is based around how Poseidon, God of the Sea, pretty much despises Odysseus, the Greek hero. Book one of the myth explains, “All the Gods pitied him [Odysseus], except Poseidon, who stormed against the God-like hero” (line 25-26). Therefore, since Poseidon hates Odysseus (because Odysseus stabbed and blinded his son Polyphemus), Odysseus and his men have a terrible time traveling the seas to return home. Because of this, they face even more trials and tribulations.
    Now, regarding “Oedipus Rex”, there is an abundance of messed-up hatred in this myth. First of all, Oedipus’s father, Laius, abducts and rapes King Pelops’ son, which makes the Gods curse him, not for the abduction and rape of the boy, but for defying the “hospitality” respects. Therefore, since he had done so, this made the Gods pretty much hate him and curse him and his descendants, which brings us to Oedipus, his son. When Oedipus grows older, he unknowingly kills his father and sleeps with his mother, which enrages the Gods, since a boy crossing his father and sleeping with his mother are big taboo topics and are extremely frowned upon.
    In my opinion, hatred is a dirty and disgusting thing. Even though Oedipus’s father deserved to be cursed, he was hated for all the wrong reasons. The Gods only cursed him because abducting and raping a King’s boy went against the hospitality rules, not because he ABDUCTED and RAPED a boy. So he definitely should have been hated and punished, but for everything else besides hospitality. Also, I can understand why Poseidon would hate Odysseus, but he should have realized his son Polyphemus was a huge jerk and deserved to be stabbed in the eye. Odysseus was only trying to save him and his men. Overall, I believe the men in these stories were hated for all the wrong reasons and should have been hated for the rightful ones.

  8. The theme I am going to be analyzing in Oedipus Rex and the Odyssey, will be Violence. Violence is a theme that occurs often in both of these texts. In fact, violence is often a recurring theme in many myths and ancient Greek stories.
    In the Odyssey, violence plays an important role in the plot and the epic in general. Odysseus fought in the Trojan war for ten years, when he is on his journey home from the war, he gets cursed by Poseidon, the God of the sea. It takes him another 10 years to get home. As Odysseus returns to his kingdom in Ithaca, we see the theme of violence as Odysseus kills all the men who are trying to steal his wife. Violence is crucial to Odysseus’s return home as he murders all who are trying to steal his wife, and he proves that he is the real Odysseus. Although, we only had to read up to book sixteen in class the importance of violence, can be seen in book twenty-two. In book twenty-two, Odysseus reveals himself to all the suitors, and goes on to killing all of them. Although, this is gruesome it is an extremely crucial part of the story. Violence and the killing of the suitors is what helps Odysseus get his kingdom and his wife back.
    The theme of violence in Oedipus Rex is very important to the story. Laius, the old king of Thebes was murdered with no justice. The people of Thebes still have not found out who killed him, so Oedipus decides to investigate further, only to find out that he (Oedipus) is the one that killed Laius. The whole story of Oedipus, circulates around the theme of violence because the main parts of the story involve violence.

  9. As I was analyzing both pieces, I personally found that violence plays a big role in both the Odyssey and Oedipus the King. Violence is what is normally a common thing that I’ve found when it comes to studying greek mythology, so I’ve decided to discuss the use of it in both pieces of literature.
    To start off, The beginning of the Odyssey is just a sequel to Homer’s Iliad which just so happens to be a poem about the decade long Trojan War, which is the first act of violence I came to notice. Secondly, I found that in the last book of the Odyssey we find that Amphinomus,the leader of the suitors discussing killing Telemachus which is considered an act of violence.

    [400] “Friends, I surely would not choose to kill Telemachus; a dread thing is it to slay one of royal stock. Nay, let us first seek to learn the will of the gods. If the oracles of great Zeus approve, I will myself slay him, and bid all the others do so; [405] but if the gods turn us from the act, I bid you desist.”

    Lastly, we coincidentally find Odysseus brutally murdering the suitors in his household with his bow and arrow with the help of his son, Telemachus (Telemachus ends up killing Amphinomus). As described by many readers as well as myself, it is considered to be a very gruesome scene.
    While reading Oedipus the King, we find an act of violence in the beginning when we read of Laius, who ruled Thebes before Oedipus. We find out that he was murdered by a bunch of thieves and In order for the plague to end in Thebes, Oedipus must find the killer of Laius. As Oedipus is trying to find the murder of Laius, he comes to realize that he might actually be his son..and also his killer. In order to find more information, Oedipus ends threatening a shepherd with torture if he didn’t help him figure out the truth, which could be considered another act of violence. Lastly, we learn from the information from the shepherd that Oedipus is, in fact, the killer of Laius and is also his son. We also find out that Jocasta is Oedipus’s mother which leads to her committing suicide and to Oedipus stabbing out his eyes. All of these considered to be acts of violence.

    OEDIPUS: You said that he spoke of highway robbers who killed Laius. Now if he uses the same number, it was not I who killed him. One man cannot 980 be the same as many. But if he speaks of a man travelling alone, then clearly the burden of the guilt inclines toward me.

    Although, Oedipus the King isn’t the same violence as we see in the Odyssey, we still see an equal amount of brutality in both pieces. The lines that I have chosen have shown this brutality and how the characters have contradicted themselves. Ironically, Amphinomus ends up being killed by Telemachus instead of the other way around and the same goes to Oedipus when he finds out that he married his mother and killed his father.

  10. When comparing Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex and Homer’s Odyssey, a common theme of justice can be examined, whether it be self-inflicted or divinely influenced. In terms of the Odyssey, divinely influenced justice is seen being prayed for by Polyphemos the Cyclops. After Odysseus and his men get Polyphemos drunk and stab him in the eyes so that they may escape, Odysseus’ cockiness overcomes him and he yells his name out to Polyphemos. When hearing this, Polyphemos prays to his father Poseidon that justice may be exacted upon Odysseus. He prays “If truly I am your son, and you acknowledge yourself as my father, grant that Odysseus, sacker of cities, son of Laertes, who makes his home in Ithaka, may never reach that home” (9:528-532). When Poseidon hears his prayer, he exacts justice upon Odysseus, blowing him off his course back home and leaving him to travel around aimlessly for ten years without getting home. Likewise in Oedipus Rex, Oedipus’ justice is self-inflicted. As a form of punishment for his misdeeds, Oedipus proceeds to gauge his eyes out with his recently hanged mother’s gold pins, stating as he does so “The pain of spikes where I had sight, the flooding pain of memory. Never to be gauged out.” This is Oedipus’ ultimate justice for himself, now that he is blind, he has become all knowing and his ignorance he carried throughout the whole play goes away. Both examples depicted in both works show the Greek belief in justice which directly coincides with my own personal belief about justice. Any evil deed should go punished, whether it is in the form of divine intervention or personal guilt which can be lived with for the rest of one’s life.

  11. Homer’s “Odyssey” and Sophocles’ “Oedipus Rex” are both Greek classics that show the culture and characteristics of ancient Greek society. Although these texts are different in many ways they both have a central theme of violence. More specifically, how hatred and justice contributed to the violence portrayed in both works. Although there are other themes incorporated in these two texts, hatred, justice, and violence are the most prominent.
    In Homer’s “Odyssey,” Odysseus spends 10 years after fighting in the Trojan war trying to get back to his home in Ithaca. Early on in this journey he encounters a Cyclops. When first arriving at the island of the Cyclopes, Odysseus wanted to find out what one was like; he wanted to see if they fear the gods as they do or if they are savages. Odysseus met a Cyclops, Polyphemus, and asked him to give them the gifts that they deserve as told by the gods. To this Polyphemus responded, “You’re dumb, stranger, or from far away, if you ask me to fear the gods. Cyclopes don’t care about Zeus or his aegis or the blessed gods, since we are much stronger. I wouldn’t spare you or your men out of fear of Zeus. I would spare them only if I myself wanted to” (Homer 276). At this point, Odysseus and Polyphemus have both shown xenophobic hatred for the other because the other person does not have the same religious views as themselves. After this, he preceded to eat two of Odysseus’ men. From this moment on, Odysseus wanted justice for his fallen crew members. He then devises a plan to escape and get justice for the people that Polyphemus ate. He precedes to get Polyphemus drunk on wine, stab him in the eye with a sharpened stake, and steal his sheep. Not only this, but Odysseus added insult to injury when he taunted Polyphemus from his shot as he sailed away. Polyphemus, wanting justice of his own, prayed to his father, Poseidon, He said, “Hear me Poseidon, blue-manned Earth-Holder, if you are the father you claim to be. Grant that Odysseus, son of Laertes, may he never reach his home on Ithaca. But if he is fated to see his family again, and return to his home and own native land, may he come home late, having lost all companions, in another’s ship, and find trouble at home” (Homer 282). Poseidon responds by fulfilling this request throughout the duration of the epic. He kills all of Odysseus’ crew members, tries to drown him at sea when he sails on a raft to the nearest island, and he is forced to return home in another’s ship 10 years after he was originally supposed to be gone. When he arrives home, his son is grown, everyone he knew thought he was dead and there were other men attempting to court his wife.
    In Sophocles’ “Oedipus Rex,” Oedipus soles the mystery of the former King Laius’ murder to save his kingdom from a pollution that causes them despair. But, in doing so, learns secrets about his past he never thought he would uncover. He learns that the prophecy that foretold that he would kill his father and have children with his mother came true. He learns that his birthmother got rid of him as a baby out of fear of her own prophecy that said their son would kill his father and have children with his mother. He is then given to a herdsman, who gives him to another herdsman, who gives him to the king and queen of another kingdom. Oedipus, later, runs away from his home after haring his fate to try and escape it. On his journey, he is harassed by a man and his servants, he then kills them out of self-defense. He discovers that the man he killed was King Laius and he was given away by his wife. After this information is revealed, his wife weeps about what she has done and hangs herself. “When he saw her, he cried out fearfully and cut the nose. Then as she lay, poor woman, on the ground, what happened after was a terrible sight to see. He tore the brooches- Gold chased brooches fastening her robe- away from her and lifting them up high dashed them on his own eyeballs, shrieking out such things as: they will never see the crime I have committed or had done upon me” (Sophocles 1450-1460). They had both committed these violent acts to seek justice for King Laius and to punish themselves out of hatred for themselves. They hated themselves and felt that they needed to be punished because of the horrendous acts that they committed.
    Homer’s “Odyssey” and Sophocles’ “Oedipus Rex” exemplify the violent nature of the Greeks during the time that these classics were written and that the violence stemmed from, mostly, hatred and justice. I think that most of the violence portrayed was unnecessary and that they were very capable of solving their problems in a more civilized manor. However, one can never truly know the mindset of those during that era, we can only speculate as to their values based on what has survived the test of time.

  12. The theme I am going to focus on is violence. Both pieces Odyssey and Oedipus Rex has violence with them. Whether it be the main characters of both (Odysseus and King Oedipus), the gods, or someone they know and love. Violence results in them not being smart about their decisions or their way of solving a problem.
    In Odyssey there is a major example of violence. After Odysseus and his crew meet the cyclops, the cyclops ends up killing and eating some of Odysseus crew. To get revenge Odysseus plans to blind the cyclops. He gives the cyclops wine to make him fall asleep. While he is sleep Odysseus drove a Stake into his eye, the stake was so hot that the cyclops’ lids and brow were singed. The cyclops called his father Poseidon to get revenge and he did. His revenge made Odysseus’ trip back home a struggle he didn’t get back until 20years later. Odysseus could’ve been home sooner if he didn’t mess with the cyclops.
    In Oedipus Rex, Oedipus starts off with being violent when he’s on a journey to Pytho. He ends up killing a group of travelers. The situations he ended up in wouldn’t have happened if he didn’t kill the travelers. He later finds out that one of the travelers was his father. After all the situations he goes through, he is ashamed and stabs his own eyes out.
    Violence should not be the first thing in mind in a situation. There are other ways solve a problem or get through a situation. Both of these characters could have thought out what they wanted to do instead of just resulting violence.

  13. Homer’s Odyssey and Sophocles Oedipus both play major roles in Greek society culturally and politically. Although these pieces maybe totally different, they do interact with the same quality of violence. Odysseus is forced to roam helplessly through the ocean after he defeated the cyclops in a fight. While they are lost at sea, his men are eaten by a monster and furthermore his men were all dead by the time Odysseus arrived back. Odysseus continues the fight because, above all he wants justice for all the wrong doing happening to him. In Oedipus Rex on his journey he continues to kill several people including his father and eventually stabs his own eye out in the end. Justice seems to be the motivator for all these violent actions and its evident that Greek society weighs justice most important because the Greeks sure do love to kill for whats right.

  14. In the Odyssey, the story’s tragic hero, Odysseus, is sent sailing from island to island for ten years after the Trojan war ends. However, he could have avoided this complicated journey by simply demonstrating self-control and not boasting his name to the Cyclops after he blinds it. In doing this, he provoked Poseidon, god of the sea and father of the Cyclops. Poseidon immediately develops an intense hatred for Odysseus and attempts to drown him on several occasions. He held a consistent grudge against him and did everything in his power to destroy him, especially when he discovered his fellow Olympians went behind his back and tried to help Odysseus return home.
    The theme of hatred can also be observed in Oedipus Rex. When King Oedipus receives confirmation that the fate Tiresias’s described to him was true, feelings of shame and self-loathing emerged. He even goes as far to blind himself and banish himself from his own kingdom. At the beginning of the play, Oedipus is overly-confident that his fate could not be true, but as he began to string together pieces of information, his confidence levels and self-esteem dropped. The steep decline of his self-assurance led to violent acts of self-hatred by the end of the play.
    Hatred is a commonly used theme in literature. It can assist in creating a central conflict and establish the protagonist and antagonist. In my opinion, I think it helps the reader or audience to connect emotionally to the characters and plot. However, the hatred does not need to come along with violence like it does in both the Odyssey and Oedipus Rex. Overall, the hatred is typically settled in the end, with or without violence, resolving the main conflict of the plot sufficiently.

  15. The Odyssey and Oedipus Rex both contains the ideas the of violence, hatred and authority. I would like to focus on the idea of authority.
    In the Odyssey, really shows the power that Odysseus have over the gods and his men. He had fought in the Trojan War for ten years and had earned the respect of the goddess Athena and many other gods and by being on their good side, they were able to help him with his journey back home. Although along the journey, he did not make many good decision by sleeping with multiple women and killing most of his men; he was still pitied by the gods and was saved in numerous instance. When Odysseus blinded Poseidon’s son, Polyphemus, he anger Poseidon. Poseidon make sure to take his revenge upon Odysseus by making his journey home with a lot of obstacles. One of them would be when Odysseus was trapped on Calypso’s island, Ogygia, and was forced to stay on the island with no way of getting out. Zeus sent Hermes to persuade Calypso to let him go. In spite of him sleeping with Calypso and cheated on his wife, the gods still was on his side. He holds that authority over the gods even when he does not make a good decision.
    In another light, Oedipus did not get the same kind of treatment like Odysseus. Oedipus father, Laius, had brought Oedipus great misery even before he was born. Before Oedipus was born, King Laius abducts and rapes King Pelops’ son, and this made the gods very angry. Later on when Laius had his own son, the god promise to take revenge on Laius by making sure his son will receives a bad fate. So when King Laius learn that his son is going to suffer from a bad fate, he decided to abandoned his child so the child could be free of the gods’ wrath. However, the son grew up to ruling the kingdom that his father had left behind without realizing it. As the new king he wanted to find out who had killed the old king. In the process of doing so, he married a woman who turns out to be his mother and finds out that he actually killed his own father.This just shows that the gods have a strong authority over a mortal life and there is nothing they could do to change their fate.

  16. Homer’s Odyssey and Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex both share a common theme in violence. In the Odyssey, Odysseus was very familiar with violence. He spent ten years fighting in the Trojan war and then had to find his way back home and encountered more violence. At one of the islands Odysseus landed on, he was trapped in a cave by a cyclops named Polyphemos. Odysseus and his men wanted to escape from this cave, but needed to keep Polyphemos alive so he could remove the bolder that was blocking off the entrance. Odysseus created a plan, which had him and his men stab Polyphemus in his eye and lead them out of the cave. In Oedipus Rex, Oedipus encounters a group of men who start to harass him. Oedipus decided to defend himself and ended up killing the entire group of men including Laius. Laius turns out to be Oedipus’ father. Oedipus later learns that his mother was also his wife so he ends up gauging out his own eyes, and his mother/wife ends up hanging herself.

  17. The themes of violence and authority is present in many Greek mythological texts. Usually, the characters in the text use violence to assert their authority. In Oedipus Rex by Sophocles and The Odyssey by Homer, both main characters have countless scenes where they inflict cruelty and brutality on others to display their power and make a statement for their personal sovereignty. In Oedipus Rex Oedipus ventures to the prophet Teiresias to uncover his prophecy. Teiresias previously knowing the prophecy is reluctant to share it with Oedipus. Teiresias’s faltering angers Oedipus and he threatens the prophet with death. When Oedipus realized he was not in control of Teiresias he felt a lack of power in the situation. This feeling was new and uncomfortable with Oedipus, therefore he decided to threaten the old man with death. Furthermore, in the Odyssey, Odysseus finally returns how to learn of his home, and his throne more importantly, had been overthrown by suitors. They were causing turmoil in the palace and were striving to win over Odysseus’s wife Penelope. Odysseus and his son Telemachus then plot to assassinate the suitors and bandits. Odysseus’s lack of power in his own home and desire for prestige and dominance over his wife leads him to slaughter the suitors and leave no mercy. In both texts, the main characters struggle to beat being mediocre and regain power drive them to wreak havoc and violence among people.

  18. “Oedipus the King” and “The Odyssey” can be compared in many aspects but one specific component is that of hatred. In “Oedipus the King” the main character Oedipus is hated by his parent’s due to the telling of a prophecy that he clearly had no choice in. The prophecy states that Oedipus would ultimately kill his father, Laius, and lay/marry his mother Jocasta. While neither parent wanted their end of the prophecy to come true, they agreed to outcast Oedipus and therefore hopefully out casting the prophecy from existence. Oedipus ends up killing his Laius at a crossroad and then goes to Thebes and somehow rises to the crown. Along with crown Oedipus also earns the queen, his mother Jocasta. Clearly neither of the two knows the others true identity which we can see because when they find out their relationship to one another Jocasta kills herself and Oedipus stabs his eyes out. If his parents had raised him in spite of the prophecy instead of choosing to hate him, I feel that the prophecy would have turned out differently.
    In “The Odyssey”, Poseidon hates Odysseus for many reasons but I feel it is one less explored by the everyday reader. In Odysseus’s travels, he blinds Poseidon’s son Polyphemus on his quest back to Ithaca. While some may say this was the main reasons for Poseidon’s hatred, I feel that is was his hatred for Athena that truly made Poseidon hate Odysseus. In an older myth, Poseidon and Athena get into a contest to see which of the two would be the patron god of a great greek city. Poseidon gave the city a salt water river while Athena gave them an olive tree which proved more useful in the end therefore naming the city Athens. While this is just a myth, it could show why Poseidon had a hatred for his wise sister. The support of Odysseus by Athena was clear among the gods, and the fact that Odysseus blinded his son gave many valid reasons for Poseidon to hate Odysseus.
    While I feel hatred is a useless emotion, I agree that it is an important aspect in many literatures. Without hatred, there would be no “Romeo and Juliet” or “Oedipus the king” in order for people to discuss and talk about.

    Sources:
    1)http://abs.kafkas.edu.tr/upload/225/Oedipus_the_King_Full_Text.pdf
    2)http://abs.kafkas.edu.tr/upload/225/Oedipus_the_King_Full_Text.pdfwww.greek-gods.info/greek-gods/poseidon/stories/poseidon-athena-contest/

  19. While Examining both texts it is apparent to see that violence played a major part in Greek history. By examining both tales as historic documents rather than pieces of ancient literature we can argue that ancient Greeks viewed power, and safety not as rights but as goals only obtainable by violence. Both Oedipus and Odysseus are very violent men who can be pushed to violence by the slightest of aggressions. For example, Oedipus killed his (unknown) father for giving him a shove on the road while Odysseus killed all his wives’ suitors for presuming he was dead. Both heroes in the stories are rewarded for these acts of violence, Odysseus is rewarded directly with the return of his home stead and Oedipus is rewarded indirectly with his kingship. It is interesting to question whether Greeks viewed violence as a justifiable means to victory, Odysseus is punished by the gods for his violence against others but only when the people he hurts are important to the gods, while Oedipus is only punished by himself because of guilt and disgust four what he had done.
    In my opinion, Greek culture justifies violent acts on others as long as they have wronged you in some way, in the case of Oedipus his father tried to have him murdered because an oracle told him his son would kill him, Odysseus hurts Polyphemus and is completely justified in doing so but is only punished for his bravado when mocking the son of Poseidon in defeat. In a way, it seems Greeks saw violence as a part of common day to day life and could be perpetrated honorably or carried out with malcontent. In closing The Odyssey and Oedipus Rex give an interesting window into the values of Greek society and let us get a feel for what one of the most influential thought about one of the most debated topics in history violence.

  20. After reading both the Odyssey and Oedipus the King, it is clear how many similarities these stories have with each other. Both King Oedipus and Odysseus are well respected leaders of their cities and share similar personality traits. Also, the stories themselves share a reoccurring theme which is violence and ambiguity.
    I was overwhelmed by the graphic violence in the Odyssey. There were battle scenes almost every page that involved some type of violent act or result din death. Odysseus is glorified and celebrated for being courageous and willing to go into battle. Although, each major battle in the story is met with the question of wether the benefits of violence have outweighed its consequences and the answer is almost always no.
    In Oedipus the King, violence doesn’t make an appearance as often. A big contributer to the violence of this story is the fact Oedipus himself is an ignorant man, with an extremely violent nature. The violence is shown by his reaction to the insult and painful strike he received from the king and his entourage as they were approaching the crossroad. His violence is triggered when he learns the prophecy.
    Overall, violence serves in both stories as unfortunate, tragic and even unjustifiable, and contradicts the idea of honor and greatness of violence in the Greek world.

  21. Hatred is everywhere in the world, showing up constantly in everyday life. It’s a necessary evil that taunts the world, and can be very apparent in literature. For example, in the era of war-torn Greece, classics like The Odyssey and Oedipus Rex provide a gaze into how culture was, along with how apparent these themes were in everyday life. In the Odyssey, many cases of hatred are displayed. One prime example is Poseidon’s hatred for Odysseus. After what Odysseus did to his son, the cyclops, Poseidon was enraged. He made Odysseus’s journey home impossible. He was engulfed by rage and sent the Greek war hero drifting into endless conflict for ten whole years. Much like in the Odyssey with Poseidon’s rage of punishment, Oedipus goes on a hate fueled rampage looking for whoever killed King Laius. He tortured who he believed to have committed the unsolved, only to realize that it was himself. Obviously angry over it, Oedipus had to take it out on himself by killing himself. I find that in both stories, hate is so strong and apparent, that the desire to punish overtakes sense of reason and critical thinking.

  22. Justice is a concept which has undergone many evolutions in our society as we have come to consider ourselves more civilized than our predecessors. However, judges and verdicts were once very different in ancient Greece. Odysseus returns home after an arduous journey to find suitors in his home attempting to marry his wife. The man had been missing for ten years and it was a reasonable assumption by all that he was dead. Odysseus promptly plans to slaughter them all with his son even though he is rightly king and can have any command he orders carried out. Homer even has the gods themselves bless this course of action by Athena giving direct aid to Odysseus and Zeus as well as he could have stopped Athena had he not wished it so. In Oedipus Rex, yet another gruesome act of justice is carried out when Oedipus blinds himself and orders Creon to banish him to a mountain where he will not have human contact again until he dies. His crimes, while killing his father and laying with his own mother are wrong, were not of his choosing. Having been abandoned and raised by the sovereigns of another country it is expected that he would not have known the identities of his mother or father so how could Oedipus have avoided such prophecies without having been given a full account of his origins and a drawn image would have helped as well. In both stories, men, kings, have gone out of their way to personally commit overly violent acts for small slights that they had the position to order the outcome any way they would have liked. Furthermore, not one of the retainers, aids, or gods surrounding them did anything but encourage their course of action. This shows that the ancient Greeks valued a swift and sure method of justice, not some drawn out debate of finding right or wrong. The Graecian culture valued a loud form of justice that sent a public message of the proper punishments to be dealt out for crimes. Hammurabi’s code of an eye for an eye almost seems tame when faced with such literal overkill.

  23. The theme that I chose to discuss between Oedipus Rex and the Odyssey was violence. While the Odyssey shows more battles and more violence overall, Oedipus Rex still has violence in it. Odysseus fought in the war for 10 years and then after that had many more battles including a battle with a cyclops which ends up causing Odysseus to delay his getting home for another ten years, a battle with some suitors and some other battles along the way. Basically everything in the Odyssey revolved around battle. While in Oedipus Rex, we see violence when Oedipus killed his father, the king of Laius and we later see violence again when he stabs his eyes out. While this doesn’t contain nearly as much violence it still plays a vital role in this story. Overall, both of these stories are stories of violence and focused on violent acts to keep the story alive. They also can either completely contain violence like the Odyssey or just have some parts of violence like Oedipus Rex.

  24. Viewing the two texts, “The Odyssey” and “Oedipus Rex” as political documents we can see central themes of revenge. Both texts primarily have to do with war and violence, but the vengeance factor is what I will be focusing on. “The Odyssey” follows mighty Odysseus while he tries to make his way back home after the Trojan War. His journey home consists of 10 years of fighting cyclopes, sirens, storms, lustful woman, vengeful Gods, manipulative Gods, and much more. This harsh journey is brought upon Odysseus due to his arrogance. He stabbed out the eye of the a cyclops known as, Polyphemos. Due to his arrogance he shouts out his name so the cyclops knows who blinded him. Polyphemos then requests that his father, Poseidon to seek vengeance on Odysseus saying,“Hear me, Poseidon who circle the earth, dark-haired. If truly I am your son, and you acknowledge yourself as my father, grant that Odysseus, sacker of cities, son of Laertes, who makes his home in Ithaka, may never reach that home; but if it is decided that he shall see his own people, and come home to his strong-founded house and to his own country, let him come late, in bad case, with the loss of all his companions, in someone else’s ship, and find troubles in his household.”
    “Oedipus Rex” follows King Oedpius after saving the city of Thebes. The city is cursed by the Gods due to the death of the last king, Laius. To save the city from the plague his killer must be tracked down and killed. Everyone is turning on each other and blaming one another. Oedipus is going about finding Laius’ murder in a harsh manner and the city is doing very badly. This vengeance in inflicted by the Gods according to an oracle. Creon says, “By banishing a man,or expiation of blood by blood, since it is murder guilt which holds our city in it’s dying arms.”
    I believe what we can take away from the violence and vengeance in these texts is that the Greeks were used to it. They must have had many cruel and irrational rulers that inflicted violence among the people carelessly as the Gods and leaders in these myths did. It’s known that Greece was very divided politically which was cause for the conflicts and violence. I believe that the Gods reflected humans very closely with their flaws. Depicting Gods and Goddesses like themselves helped the people accept cruel treatment in their way of life. They didn’t exactly get an explanation as to why violence was necessary, but they understood that it would happen.

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