The Odyssey

The Odyssey Metaphors and Similes

"great Odysseus melted into tears... as a woman weeps, her arms flung around her darling husband, a man who fell in battle... So from Odysseus' eyes ran tears of heartbreak now" (8.586-597) (Simile)

When Odysseus hears Alcinous' bard sing of the Trojan War, the agony of his tears is conveyed to the audience by analogy to a woman who, like Odysseus, has lost extremely close loved ones to war, and was powerless to save them.

"They speared the crews like fish and whisked them home to make their grisly meal" (10.135-136) (Simile)

Odysseus uses this simple simile to convey how mundane and commonplace the brutalizing and disregard of human life was for the ruthless Laestrygonians.

"there slowly came a grand array of women, all sent before me now by august Persephone, and all were wives and daughters once of princes. They swarmed in a flock around the dark blood" (11.258-261) (Metaphor)

The description by Odysseus of women in the underworld as a "flock" frames them as less-than-human, suggesting that they have lost an essential aspect of themselves in death.

"As a man aches for his evening meal when all day long his brace of wine-dark oxen have dragged the bolted plowshare down a fallow field -- how welcome the setting sun to [Odysseus], the going home to supper, yes, though his knees buckle, struggling home at last. So welcome now to Odysseus, the setting light of day" (13.34-39) (Similie)

Here, Homer uses analogy to raw tiredness and hunger to express phenomenologically how deeply Odysseus yearns to be home once again once, after so many years away, his final passage is in sight.

"Why, just now you were old, and wrapped in rags, but now, look, you seem like a god who rules the skies up there!" (16.226-228) (Simile)

This comparison of Odysseus to a god by his son, Telemachus, combines insight into the imposing and handsome figure of the man, as well as the divine providence by which his journey has been ordained (it was Zeus who agreed to allow him passage home, and Athena who directly facilitated his homecoming).