The Odyssey, Analysis of Hubris, Ate, Nemesis
The Cycle That Continues Today Many people get off a plane and think that was a terrible trip because the security lines were long, the flight was delayed, and the food was terrible. Odysseus’ journey is guaranteed to be a hundred times harder. He spends ten years trying to get home after the Trojan War and has a series of mishaps along the way. Homer, who was a famous bard in Ancient Greece, tells Odysseus’ story in the epic poem, the Odyssey. Throughout the poem, many characters go through the cycle of Hubris, Ate, and Nemesis, causing hardships that never needed to happen, and their mistakes teach readers lessons.
The cycle begins when a character is arrogant, acts upon it, and then gets punished based on their actions. Iros, a beggar, decides that he doesn’t want to share the space with Odysseus, who he thinks is a weak old beggar, but he pays in the end. The suitor, Antinoos, leads the pack of men taking over Odysseus’ castle; he dies for his disloyal actions toward the king. Finally, Odysseus’ plan to return to Ithaka is slowed by over eight years after he angers Poseidon’s son by being arrogant. Iros isn’t closely related to the suitors or Odysseus but he still goes through the cycle.
Iros’ experience with the cycle results in a loss of food and shelter after he commits his Ate. Iros meets an old and weak beggar whom he thinks he is better than because he is much younger and looks stronger. Then, during his Ate, he challenges the beggar to a fight for the castle‘s Great Hall. In his Nemesis, the beggar, who is actually Odysseus, breaks his jaw in the first punch and then hurts his leg with just a quick kick. Readers can learn through Iros not to judge others by their looks or age. Before the fight, Iros encourages the suitors to pay attention and cheer him on.
Iros tells Odysseus, “Clear-out grandfather or be hauled by the ankle bone. See them all giving me the wink? That means, ‘Go on and drag him out! ’ I hate to do it. Up with you! Or would you like a fist fight” (Fitzgerald 335). When Iros commits his Ate, he angers Odysseus by insulting him. This shows that people should learn to share, and not take advantage of elders. The cycle continues throughout the story in Antinoos. During Odysseus’ absence, Antinoos thinks he can take over the castle and his wife; this causes him to lose his life.
When Odysseus doesn’t return from the Trojan War, people begin to question if he is alive or not. Antinoos and the other suitors decide to take advantage of this opportunity by invading the castle. His Ate is committed when they drink Odysseus’ wine, slaughter his cattle, and mistreat Penelope, Odysseus’ wife, and the other servants. When Odysseus finally returns, still disguised as a beggar, Antinoos throws a chair at him. In the end, his nemesis is being the first suitor to die, since he is the leader of the pack.
Readers can learn not to take advantage of others or take what has not been earned. Odysseus and his most trusted servants lock the suitors in the Great Hall, in order to try to kill them. Homer writes, “He drew the cruel head of an arrow for Antinoos just as the young man leaned to lift his beautiful cup… Odysseus hit him under the chin and punched up the feather through his throat” (Fitzgerald 409). Antinoos’ Nemesis is death at the hand of Odysseus’ arrow, and it is revenge for taking over his castle. Although Odysseus causes the Nemesis of Iros and Antinoos, he experiences the cycle himself.
Even though Odysseus is considered the hero of the poem, he still goes through the Hubris, Ate, and Nemesis cycle. In order to escape Polyphemos’ cave, where he is trapped, Odysseus blinds the Kyklopes. After escaping the cave, he boards the ship and with arrogance reveals his name and where he is from. In anger, the Kyklopes asks his dad, Poseidon, to punish Odysseus by making it almost impossible to return to Ithaka, Odysseus’ home, this is his Nemesis. The lesson the reader can learn is that boasting can get in the way of the ultimate goal. Bragging makes others even more mad, and they try to get revenge.
Odysseus couldn’t just leave quietly. Polyphemos tells his dad everything he knows and how to punish him. He yells, “Oh hear me lord, blue girdler of the islands, if I am thine indeed, and thou art father: grant that Odysseus, raider of cities, never see his home again. Laertes son, I mean, who kept his hall on Ithaka. Should destiny intend that he shall see his roof again among his family in his fathers land, far be that day, and dark the years between. Let him lose all companions, and return under strange sail to biter days home” (Fitzgerald 161). Polyphemos determines Odysseus’ fate.
It takes ten years for him to return home finally. All of his crew dies, and when he arrives, he finds that suitors have invaded his castle. The lessons learned from Odysseus’ mistakes are important for people today, not only for people the past. Arrogance can’t always be controlled, and still today self-importance gets in the way of peoples life goals. The Odyssey’s exciting adventure teaches lessons about life and human nature. None of the characters are perfect, so this allows people to relate to their personalities and mistakes, keeping this poem popular.