- Finalist: “The Importance of The Odyssey,” published in Believing in Greatness (Elder & Leemaur, 2007)
In the epic tale of The Odyssey, Homer writes, “It is tedious to tell again tales already plainly told.” Since the publishing of The Odyssey many centuries ago, other authors have been emulating stories that can loosely be based off of The Odyssey. Ideas from modern stories such as The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Little Women can be traced back to Homer’s well-known, Greek poem. The Odyssey is definitely the greatest literary work of all time because it set the standard of how a story should be told in literature.
To begin with, every great story since The Odyssey has placed a hero on a specific journey. This hero is seeking adventure and ultimately, chasing his home. Most authors have emulated this way of storytelling, bringing a hero into a different land than his own and setting him on a quest for something greater than himself.
The story of The Odyssey is told as Odysseus, the title character, commences on his journey back to his home of Ithaca after the fall of Troy during the Trojan War. He falls into many obstacles along the way, such as his raft getting destroyed by an angry Poseidon, the Greek God of the sea. Odysseus is also held captive for seven years by the beautiful and mysterious goddess, Calypso. While he is living this perilous and unpredictable life on his quest back to his homeland, Odysseus’s wife, Penelope is being bombarded with marriage proposals in Ithaca.
A concrete example of literary work that follows the structure of The Odyssey is Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. In Little Women, Amy March, the youngest of the four March sisters, travels abroad after her relationship with her sister Jo is deeply strained. There, Amy is put into a land she is not familiar with, searching for who she is and what she ultimately wants to do with her life. Like in The Odyssey, Amy eventually comes back home knowing who she is and married to Jo’s former love, Laurie.
Another example of Homer’s work being essentially replicated is in the story of Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. After Huck gets a hold of a substantial amount of money, his father kidnaps him and moves him into a desolate house in the woods. Reluctantly, Huck fakes a suicide and escapes and sets out on his own journey. The antithetic character of Huck Finn always felt as if he did not belong. However, as the story comes to a close and his adventure is over, Huck feels a sense of belonging.
The Odyssey is certainly the greatest literary work of all time. Modern writers have followed his example for centuries, as in Little Women and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. The story of a hero going into a new land, searching for adventure, but ultimately trying to go back home, is the distinct basis of every great story.