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Where Do Temptation and Conflict Meet

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Perhaps it’s simply learning from mistakes. Perhaps it’s all found in confining chaos. When referring to Homer’s Odyssey, as well as everyday life, the frontier of the necessity of conflict and the pitfalls of temptation starts to lose some of their fog. The stories in which these are found is in The Lotus Eaters, Cyclops, The Witch Circe, Sirens, and Calypso. 

By kicking off with The Lotus Eaters, one is able to find the first example of the connection between temptation and conflict. It is given in book 9, lines 94-99, “And whosoever of them ate of the honey-sweet fruit of the lotus, had no longer any wish to bring back word or to return, but there they were fain to abide among the Lotus-eaters…These men, therefore, I brought back perforce to the ships, weeping, and dragged them beneath the benches and bound them fast in the hollow ships” Just imagine having to hurriedly drag back ten to fifty men, singlehandedly, who are screaming and kicking like children. This would take an abundance of strength, so in a way, this was prepping Odysseus for the hard and narrow road ahead. 

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When looking at Cyclops, there are multiple clarifying quotes. One of which includes, “ ‘Godsake, Captain! Why bait the beast again? Let him alone! That tidal wave he made on the first throw all but beached us’… ‘Cyclops, if ever mortal man inquire how you were put to shame and blinded, tell him Odysseus, raider of cities, took your eye: Laertes’ son, whose home’s on Ithaca!” Instantly, Odysseus is seen as ignorant and taken over by temptation. He and his crew were already in conflict with the cyclops, Polyphemus, why enrage him even more by telling him the name of his wrongdoer? Alas, there is a positive side to the conflict. Odysseus’ name is now known not just to humans, but to the gods and cyclops. Odysseus might even praise himself for being worthy enough to have Poseidon take notice of him.

Next, in The Witch Circe, it starts out with Odysseus having the willpower to not fall into Circe’s trap. From book 10, lines 9-11, “Now sheathe your sword and come to bed with me. Through making love we may begin to trust each other more.” From this, one can tell Circe eventually woes him to bed. During his affair with Circe, he loses track of time and ends up spending five years with her. Although, he gained guidance from her for the rest of his trip home. For example, in book 10, lines 43-48, “Go to the house of Hades and the dreadful Persephone, ask the Theban prophet, the blind Tiresias, for his advice. Persephone has given him alone full understanding, even now in death. The other spirits flit around as shadows.”   

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