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Challenges In The Odyssey Essay

1058 words - 4 pages

Challenges in The Odyssey

There are many challenges throughout the Odyssey the most significant being his arrogance that Odysseus must overcome in order to reach home. In book 9, beginning with line 113 Odysseus and his men begin a journey in the land of the Kyklops. This set of challenges for Odysseus shows the reader the battle between arrogance and wisdom within Odysseus. The choices that Odysseus makes during this portion of his journey home will help him to realize his arrogance and the downfalls of yielding to it, which he must overcome to regain his kingdom and property from the suitors.
When Odysseus first decides to explore the nearby island he makes a wise decision to take only his own ship and company. The reason he does this is to [book 9; lines 187-189] "find out what the mainland natives are- for they may be wild savages, and lawless, on hospitable and God fearing men". This proves to be a wise decision because the natives are Kyklops. Kyklops have no laws, no councils, and no interest in hospitality or civility of any kind. A reader could reasonably believe that Odysseus decision to only bring his own ship and company prolongs the lives of the men he left behind.
Beginning with line 201 in book 9 Odysseus begins to describe the type of men that resides in the cave he is now in. He describes the absentee resident of the caves by what he sees in the cave. He describes the resident as being in the cave alone, remote, knowing nothing but savagery. He goes further to call him a huge brute. Once again Odysseus shows his wisdom in leaving all but twelve of his men at the ship to go ahead. In line 229 through 231 he states "for in my bones I knew some towering brute would be upon us soon- all outward power, a wild man, ignorant of civility". His men want to plunder and leave before the resident returned. This desire is in direct contrast to what they did in Ismarus when he advised them to leave Ismarus immediately with their riches. Furthermore, Odysseus show his arrogance when he ignores the advice of his men to take the plunder and leave but instead opts to stay and wait for the caveman to return home to test the owners hospitality. Odysseus makes a costly mistake in his decision, all of the evidence he sees in the cave points to a savage and uncivil being, but Odysseus, in his arrogance, elects to wait for the caveman's return anyway. A reader could use these instances to support a theory that it is better to "quit while you're ahead".
Starting in line 273 when the Kyklops sees Odysseus and his men. The one eyed giant is curios at first as to who they are. He begins in line 274 by asking "strangers who are you? And where from?" Odysseus responds to the questions of the one eyed giant by describing in great detail where they are from and who they are but becomes arrogant in the end of his description by instructing the Kyklops on what is acceptable behavior according to Zeus. Polyphemus, the one-eyed giant,...

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