The strong character traits of the main characters Odyssey and Job in the epic The Odyssey and The Story of Job help develop their plots from the beginning to the rise of conflict and their resolutions. Although written by different authors, periods and places, the two characters’ physical strength is not as important as their intelligence in handling their difficulties.
The Odyssey is an epic that describes the tales of Odysseus, who is the main character in Homer’s story. Its setting is around 3,200 years ago. It begins on an island in the Ionian Sea. Throughout the plot as Odysseus travels to the war in Troy as a warrior, and his journey back where he is taken captive by the nymph Calypso, he remains intelligent.
The book of Job is said to be set around the 4th century B.C. Job is a dedicated and faithful servant of God. He is tempted in the effort to challenge his perspective of God. Everything he possessed, both health and wealth, is gone. For Job to deal with the devil’s temptations and still remain faithful to God, shows great wisdom. Although his first response is anger, he is careful not to curse God as advised by both friends and family. In his pursuit of litigation, he wants God to intervene on his behalf.
In both, the Greek Gods in Homer’s The Odyssey and Job’s God, humans are subordinate to the gods who have to be approached with fear and respect. However, in Job’s case, God allows the suffering in which Job wisely uses his freewill to make choices: the knowledge that his adversity is the enemy not God.
Both Odyssey and Job have well developed traits; as perseverant, self sacrificing and faithful. In the plot of the book of Job, Job clearly understands that his suffering is not an aspect of cause and effect. This dogmatic approach enshrined even among his friends and his own wife, whose response is to blame Job for either doing wrong or respond in cursing God, is foolish.
From the beginning, Job is described as blameless, his faithfulness and wise response to God is as a result of his understanding that this was not retribution. He applies dissenting wisdom instead of conventional wisdom in responding to the questions and advice from his friends or family.
Odyssey battles with the Cyclops and Polyphemus, considering their superiority in physical strength, challenges his intelligence further. The confrontation with the gods, Zeus and his daughter Athena, goddess of wisdom, also shows great wisdom. He remains focused during these struggles and captivity that separates him for 20 years from his family.
In Greek literature, Odysseus’s strong relationship with his wife Penelope allows him to remain loyal and strong in his most difficult periods and their long separation. Despite, that Nymph Calypso tempted him and sleeps with her against his will; his feeling for Penelope helps him persevere.
Job, in his relation with God and the choice to maintain a positive perspective of God despite his unbearable circumstances, is wise. The pressure for his friend does not distract him from believing God’s faithfulness. Although his friends understand God’s just principles, they think he has wronged God, resulting into the punishment.
It is only Job’s foundation of wisdom that gives him a better understanding that it is God’s policies being challenged. His belief that if God is wise means He is just too takes him a long way. Dealing with the devil and the decision not to take his wife’s advice to curse God, takes not only integrity and patience but also wisdom. He tells her off as it is foolish not to expect evil by cursing God.
Although Odyssey’s sorrow and pain is obvious to the readers, his choice not to express this to his crew serves to maintain a good relationship with them. Odysseus sheds tears from under his brows therefore, nobody else noticed. Odysseus offers sacrifices of thanks throughout the epic even as Zeus strikes down his crew for disobedience as they eat the Cattle of the Sun.
It is because Athena admires Odysseus’ intelligence that this goddess of wisdom aides him during the war of vengeance waged against him by the suitors’ parents. His ability to disguise himself and hide all weapons helps in defeating the suitors who outnumbered him.
He defeats the giant Cyclops by making it drunk without the help of his crew because they are all fearful of the giant. The giant helps him move the stone from the door, only to escape wrapped on a sheep.
Both Job’s and Odyssey’s response to their difficult circumstances throughout their journey maintains a perspective that transcends their current circumstances. As they go on a perilous journey in pursuit of good and knowledge, they discover that man can never fully understand the mysteries of God and the universe. In their quest for answers, they undergo numerous challenges and it is only in following this path that they get closer to the truth.