Being one of the most famous Ancient Greek plays, “Odyssey” has entered the realm of global culture, having left its mark on countless artworks and generations of readers. The poem addresses a large variety of themes, yet the father-son dynamics is one of the more subtle ideas integrated in it. While not lying on the surface, the significance of father-son dynamics in “Odyssey” is tremendous since the father and the son learn to build relationships while being far apart from each other.
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Analysis: Father-Son Dynamics in “Odyssey”
The specifics of father-son interactions in “Odyssey” are quite clear, if not a bit monotonous. The image of a father distancing himself from his child and the issues that both have to manage in the process can be seen quite clearly in the relationships between Odysseus and Laertes, the latter fleeing his parental responsibilities. Odysseus treats his son in a similar way, thus distancing himself from Telemachus despite caring for him: “I wish at least I had some happy man/as father” (Homer lines 261-262). The dialogue between Polyphemus and Poseidon reiterates the same idea, yet the power balance between the two is rearranged in this case, Poseidon being a literal god to whom Polyphemus prays: “O Father Zeus, O gods in bliss forever” (Homer line 323).
By building distance relationships between the leading character and the father figures that he encounters, the author emphasizes the significance of the emotional rapport between a father and a son. The described idea is evident in communication between Odysseus and Laertes, as well as Odysseus and Telemachus. The connection between Polyphemus and Poseidon is somewhat different in this case due to the godly status of Poseidon, yet the distance and the need for a parental bond is also evidently present in this case.
Homer. The Odyssey. Translated by Robert Fitzgerald, Random House, 2010.