How Homer Uses Metaphors to Reveal Rhetorical Appeals in The Odyssey Essay Example

Figurative language and rhetorical appeals have been used in writing for an incredibly long time and can easily improve the quality of someone’s writing. According to, “Rhetoric is the ancient art of argumentation and discourse, rhetorical devices are used to manipulate language to effectively transmit the author’s message to a reader. Whereas, literary devices are applicable to literature that has a primary function as an art form, expressing ideas through language to readers.” Authors constantly incorporate literary devices and rhetorical appeals to elevate their writing and make it more engaging. Homer uses metaphors to reveal rhetorical appeals and to help convey specific ideas without directly stating them in The Odyssey.

Homer seems to use metaphors the most out of all the literary devices throughout the epic. He uses metaphors in specific ways to have a specific impact on the reader; in this instance, it’s ethos. The metaphor used is when Odysseus says, “O grey-eyed one, fire my heart and brace me! I’ll take on fighting men three hundred strong if you fight at my back, immortal lady!” The grey-eyed goddess Athena answered him: “No fear but I shall be there; you’ll go forward under my wings when the crux comes at last, and I foresee your vast floor stained with blood, spattered with brains of this or that tall suitor who fed upon your cattle” (Homer 339).  Homer uses this metaphor to have the effect of ethos; it instills Athena’s credibility as an ally of Odysseus. He tells her that he can defy any odds as long as she will fight alongside him and Athena automatically says she will. As a reader, Athena is seen as an avid devote of Odysseus and it reaffirms her status as his bastion.

Besides the usage of metaphors to display ethos, Homer also uses them to display pathos. A large number of metaphors are used in the epic to appeal to the reader’s emotions. In book two Odysseus says, “Nine years we wove a web of disaster; that made the rage of the monster boil over; his mind churning with thoughts of bloody work; Terror blanched their faces. (14)” Homer uses these metaphors to make the reader pity Odysseus and feel sad for him. This device allows the reader to feel Odysseus's pain and help understand it. So without this device, he wouldn’t be able to use ethos, and his 20-year long journey would not feel as treacherous, and Odysseus's feelings of sorrow wouldn't resonate with the reader.

As said earlier rhetorical devices are used to manipulate language, transmit the author’s message to a reader effectively, and convey specific ideas. Homer usage of metaphors is to reveal rhetorical appeals, to help manifest ideas and desired feelings. Without his constant usage of literary devices, the epic would be bland and boring to read. The devices keep the reader engaged and aid in the persuasion of the reader over certain matters by using ethos and pathos.