Homer s The Odyssey is a story of a valiant and courageous man named Odysseus and his hardy crew of Ithacan sailors. Odysseus sacks cities, vanquishes monsters, and mercilessly taunts and tricks his opponents in order to attain victory for himself. In addition to these great physical feats and intellectual wit, he also sleeps with the most beautiful women on the earth. By today s standards, he is real macho man. Uncharacteristically, however, Odysseus is prone to shedding tears of sorrow. Such an act is not a rare occurrence either. Whether he watches one of his friends die or recollects his beloved wife at home, Odysseus often cries. Telemachus, Odysseus son weeps when he thinks of his absent father. Even the crew also joins in the sobbing after a particularly terrifying event. In The Odyssey, men are not afraid to cry. Telemachus, Odysseus only son, is the spitting image of his father. Rough and handsome, he chooses to go on a quest to locate is lost father. He departs from his beloved homeland and leaves his house in a state of disarray, voyaging to see first King Nestor of Pylos and then King Menelaus of Sparta. When the latter reminds young Telemachus of the noble deeds of his father, he breaks down and allows tears to flow down his cheeks in front of the gathering of diners. King Menelaus, often referred to as the red-haired warlord, does not think anything less of him for his display of sensitivity. The tears are actually seen as a sign of respect to his father, and the great warrior understands this, as do his other guests. Even the great Odysseus is susceptible to tears when he is reminded of his past. When dining with King Alcinous, the bard sings a tale of the Trojan War, which conjures up Odysseus memories of the campaign. Breaking into tears when the bard sings his melodic song, Odysseus covers his face with a cloak to hide the tiny droplets of water. Ashamed of his apparent weakness, he hides it from all the Phaecians save Alcinous who notices his guest s sorrow. Instead of ridiculing him or being disgusted, Alcinous hospitably seeks to help his guest by announcing games to distract him from his unpleasant memories, showing acceptance of his display of emotion.
Crying is not reserved solely for the memory of past evils. When Odysseus informs his crew that they will venture into the House of Hades instead of directly home, they begin to weep. This action is also spurred on by the loss of their comrade, Elpenor, who plummeted to his death from the heights of Circe s roof. Here, in the presence of only tough, sailing men, none of them are ashamed to openly cry. Again, after losing six crewmembers passing by Scylla, the men cry and console each other on the Sun God s island. Despite all being brave men they are not fearful of showing their sorrow. Upon his return home, Odysseus comes into contact with his son, whom he had not seen since infancy. After the goddess Athena reveals the King to his son, they embrace each other and allow the tears fall down their cheeks. Shortly after this they slaughter a room full of men and execute an equal number of women. Even these violent, vindictive men are capable of crying if something moves them so profoundly. The tears shed in The Odyssey are all from men who are brave and strong. In today s society, this action is typically exhibited by men that lack these characteristics. The tears are significant to the story because it differentiates this classic story of adventure and action from those stories today on the big screen. In such movies, men who are capable of fighting and mercilessly destroying an adversary never loose a tear. The Odyssey does not portray its heroes as mindless thugs, but as sensitive men capable of expressing their emotions. This novel shows that even men who cry are capable of sacking great cities, blinding prodigious monsters, fighting off savage peoples, and slaying unwanted houseguests.