Odysseus as Epic Hero of Homer's Odyssey
Homer's epic poem The Odyssey is about Odysseus' ten-year journey home from the Trojan War and what Odysseus has to do when he returns. The journey itself is quite a story. Odysseus and his men come in contact with many obstacles that they must overcome and there are more hurdles to jump when Odysseus reaches his destination. Odysseus is an epic hero who, besides showing superhuman characteristics in strength, bravery and cleverness, also proves himself through his emotions, leadership, and the corrections in his faults.
Odysseus' emotions are rare, yet profound enough to enhance the way Odysseus is viewed as an epic hero. The first sign of Odysseus' true emotions occur once Odysseus chooses to take the path past Scylla, a six-headed monster who devours sailors in passing ships, rather than the one through Charybdis, a whirlpool. While Odysseus watches below, Scylla snatches six of his best men, one for each of her heads. Seeing his men being devoured while calling his name is the worst sight Odysseus has ever had to suffer through on all his journeys on the sea (646-662). When Odysseus returns to his home on Ithaca, many more emotions take over him when he comes in contact with people he hasn't seen for twenty years. Odysseus tells Telemachus, his son, what his true identity is and the men weep and embrace to try to make up from the twenty years where this kind of bonding was unavailable (896-906). Also, Odysseus has feelings that he has to hide when he sees Argos, the dog he trained from a puppy, being mistreated and not cared for properly. However, since Odysseus is in disguise he cannot reveal his true emotion and hides his tears away (1002-1019). These examples of Odysseus showing or hiding his emotions provide the reader with an accurate picture of Odysseus' character. Epic heroes, who already have superhuman strength and many more attributes that exceed those of humans, need a way to connect with their audience through a common characteristic and emotion is a quality everyone can relate to.
Odysseus takes on the roll of the leader in The Odyssey by always knowing what needs to be done and carrying out whatever that may be. Odysseus and his men are trapped in the Cyclops' cave by a slab of solid rock and the only one who can move the stone is blind and doesn't want Odysseus and his men to leave. This type of situation needs a plan, and Odysseus steps up to supply his men with one. Each of Odysseus' men hide beneath three of the Cyclops' rams while Odysseus clings to the underside of the biggest ewe. When the Cyclops takes away the stone to let his sheep outside, Odysseus and his men are able to escape (360-400). Soon after, Odysseus and his crew must pass between the terrifying monster Scylla, who...