What should OSU freshman be reading? If I were asked about what literary work every freshman at OSU should be reading, I could suggest that every first-year student should study the Odyssey written by Homer almost three thousand years ago. It is in fact a work of high artistic merit, which rises such important topics for discussion as faithfulness to family and devotion to homeland, and therefore is required for reading.
Homer’s Odyssey is everlasting and required for reading not because of its beautifully stated style but because of the eternal truths brought up by the Greek poet. The Odyssey shows that it is no matter how warm and reach are far-away lands, the heart and soul are always homesick: “Mine is a rugged land but good for raising sons – and I myself, I know no sweeter sight on earth than a man’s own native country” (Homer). Odysseus was beside himself with worry and continued to offer up his prayers: “Father Zeus, if you really willed it so – to bring me home over land and sea-lanes, home to native ground after all the pain you brought me…!” .(Homer). The subject of relationship between a son and a father is also developed in the poem. It also highlights the importance of being a person, who honors parents, just like Odysseus, who demonstrates his devotion to his father in the following lines: “Odysseus’ heart shuddered, a sudden twinge went shooting up through his nostrils, watching his dear father struggle… He sprang toward him, kissed him, hugged him, crying…” (Homer). One may also consider the topic of returning home as the one of finding the way to one’s own self. Hence it appears that the poem may help the readers (in this particular case, the first-year students) to give heed to the values, which are of particular importance, like family, or love for one’s country.
Speaking about other literary works of Ancient Greece suggested for the students in their first year, one should stress that they are also of particular interest for the students. For instance, Plato’s philosophical text Symposium concerns itself with in-depth study of the concept of love. Promoting understanding of love the philosopher claims that “Love is born into every human being. it calls back the halves of our original nature together. it tries to make one out of two and heal the wound of human nature” (Cohen, Curd, Reeve, 2011, p. 337). Another work, a didactic poem Works and Days written by Hesiod is also deserving students’ attention. In his poem, Hesiod attracts reader’s attention by means of various mythological, ethic and working knowledge of different life aspects. It should be noted that these attainments are still of current importance. Hence, he writes “And whatever be your lot, work is best for you, if you turn your misguided mind away from other men’s property to your work and attend to your livelihood as I bid you” (Hesiod, 1914).
Cohen, S. M., Curd, P., Reeve, C. D. C. (2011). “Readings in Ancient Greek Philosophy: from Thales to Aristotle”. Hackett Publishing: 1008. Print.
Hesiod. (1914). “Works and Days”. Translated by Hugh G. Evelyn-White. Retrieved from: http://www.sacred-texts.com/cla/hesiod/works.htm
Homer. .“The Odyssey”. Translated by Robert Fagles. Retrieved from: http://www.stt.org/document.