However, one of the big problems in trying to live this way is the problem of temptation which sometimes thwarts our best efforts. In this essay, I will explain what I mean by this statement.
The Odyssey is a great story to examine issues such as ethics and values. It is the story of a man trying desperately to return home after many years away fighting in a terrible war. But he is being punished and his journey is very dilatory. He must constantly deal with obstacles. Each obstacle presents in its way a moral or ethical challenge that will try Odysseus. Although my own life is very different that Odysseus’, and much less straightforward, nevertheless, I too have been challenged by obstacles that have made me think hard about the values I live by. But I have been challenged by more than obstacles. I have also been challenged by the temptations that come with obstacles: the temptation to give in to what is easiest or safest and avoid taking responsibility for fighting on, for continuing to sail home.
Temptation is a powerful force that can make us turn our backs on the values we hold closest to our heart. This is a lesson from the Bible, when Jesus is tempted by Satan, but it also a lesson that again and again comes up in the Odyssey. When Odysseus spends time with Circe he begins to forget those he truly loves, he is caught in her spell and the temptation of an easy life that she offers. Also, when Odysseus approaches the Sirens, he is likewise tempted, but this time has taken precautions, asking his men to tie him to the mast to prevent him jumping into the sea to get close to the Sirens and their song, which would mean he would never see his wife or children again:
They sang these words most musically, and as I longed to hear them further I made by frowning to my men that they should set me free; but they quickened their stroke, and Eurylochus and Perimedes bound me with still