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"The Odyssey" - 9th grade paper

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This is DD's second draft of her paper on the Odyssey.  I marked all over the first draft, and she's made some improvements.  I realize that the direct quote are not cited properly because it is something we have not covered yet.  Other than that what suggestions do you have for her?


Odysseus and Athena

                People need help. Help with chores, work, relationships, and personal care are all essential for a normal person at some point or another in order for them to successfully deal with an issue. Not even Odysseus, hero of the Odyssey, is an exception to this rule. He could not have reached his home and retaken his throne without the help of the goddess Athena.

                His biggest obstacle was Calypso. When Odysseus came to her island, the nymph fell in love with him and held him prisoner for seven years, constantly trying to persuade him to forget his wife and kingdom and marry her. Always Odysseus refused, but he had no way of escape and so stayed upon Calypso's island in misery. (" 'Now he's left to pine on an island, racked with grief in the nymph Calypso's house- she holds him there by force.' ") Athena freed him from his prison when she persuaded Zeus to send Hermes to tell Calypso to send Odysseus back to his own home. Calypso could not go against the will of the gods, so she had to send Odysseus home.

                As Odysseus sailed, Poseidon sent a storm that destroyed Odysseus' raft and washed him up on the seashore of the Phaeacians. He fell asleep in the bushes of a wood nearby, and Athena went to the palace of the Phaeacians to the Princess Nausicaa's bedroom. There she helped Odysseus again by encouraging Nausicaa to go to wash her family's clothes in the morning. In the morning Nausicaa went and she found Odysseus. She gave him clothing and told him how to reach the palace and secure a free journey home from the Phaeacians; " 'Go past my father, grasp my mother's knees- if you want to see the day of your return, rejoicing, soon, even if your home's a world away. If only the queen will take you to her heart, then there's hope that you will see your loved ones, reach your own grand house, your native land at last.' " Only if the queen agreed to help Odysseus would he receive help from the Phaiacians. As Athena herself said, " 'The men here never suffer strangers gladly, have no love for hosting a man from foreign lands. All they really trust are their fast, flying ships that cross the mighty ocean.' "

                When Odysseus reached his home, Athena disguised him so that he could safely reach his house and assess the situation there without being slain by the suitors, who were quite determined that he should not reclaim his throne and wife (" 'Even if Odysseus of Ithaca did arrive in person, to find us well-bred suitors feasting in his halls, and the man were hell-bent on routing us from the palace- little joy would his wife derive from his return, for all her yearning. Here on the spot he'd meet a humiliating end if he fought against such odds.' ") Indeed the odds were anything but in Odysseus' favor: " 'These suitors are not just ten or twenty, they're far more- you count them up for yourself now, take a moment . . . From Dulichion, fifty-two of them, picked young men, six servants in their troop; from Same, twenty-four, from Zacynthus, twenty Achaeans, nobles all, and the twelve best lords from Ithaca itself' "- all these were against him. However, when at last the time came to fight them, Athena protected him and his men from being slain by the suitors, repeatedly sending the suitors' salvos of spears wide and preserving Odysseus and his men from harm. And finally, she prevented the families of the slain suitors from killing Odysseus and his men: " 'Hold back, you men of Ithaca, back from brutal war! Break off- shed no blood- make piece at once!' . . . And Athena handed down her pacts of peace between both sides for all the years to come".

                Athena's help provided Odysseus with the ability to reclaim his kingdom. From Calypso's island to the land of the Phaeacians  to his fight in Ithaca, Athena was by his side, helping and protecting him. Those people who remember this ancient example of how good helping others is should follow it and provide help to others when they need it.

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She has done a good job setting out her thesis, providing good examples and then wrapping it up in a conclusion.  I really don't have anything to criticize on that.  Her thesis is fine for a 9th grader but I will point out that it is a bit weak.  A thesis should be something that someone could argue with.  I doubt that many, if any, would argue the other side of the coin - that Athena didn't help Odysseus.  If she meant her thesis to be that a hero, mortal that he may be, still needed the help of the gods, then I suppose some could argue that, but it would then need to be a paper that compared all the different Greek heroes and their exploits and whether they needed the help of the gods or not.  

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