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Knowledge Is Power Essay

1515 words - 6 pages

When describing an epic hero, most individuals would envision a man who is stunning with supernatural strength. Nevertheless, there is more to power than just strength alone. It is not uncommon for knowledge to take the back seat to strength. In Homer’s “The Odyssey,” Odysseus is faced with many situations where he utilizes cunning over strength. When it comes to stereotypical epic heroes, Odysseus is a different breed. Odysseus possesses extraordinary strength; however, he relies on his wisdom to deliver him and his men from compromising situations. Odysseus uses his intelligence to overcome the Cyclops, the Sirens, and the Suitors.
When Odysseus falls captive to the Cyclops, Polyphemus, he is forced to take action. The stereotypical epic hero might have tried to display his strength by using physical force to overcome the one-eyed Giant; however, Odysseus chooses wisdom as his weapon of choice. The plan that Odysseus forms for the Cyclops is very intricate. His emotions are provoked when his men are brutally slaughtered by the brute; nevertheless, he refrains from physical violence and devices a plan. Regarding his intense desire to avenge his men, he “refrained, realizing [he] would seal [his] own fate” it was “ impossible with …unaided hands to push aside the huge rock with which [Polyphemus] had closed the great mouth of the cave” (118, lines 303-306). Odysseus and his men face Polyphemus in the recesses of a cave that is blocked by an enormous stone; a stone that cannot be budged by a company of men. He displays his wisdom by observing the surroundings of the cave. Without the observations he made, they would have killed Polyphemus and sealed their fate. In order for them to escape the recesses of the cave, he forms a plan that is devised to entice Polyphemus to flee from the cave. His plan consists of an elaborate scheme to gauge out Polyphemus’s only eye and force him to exit the cave. Battling with emotions to kill Polyphemus, he tries to deceive Polyphemus with generosity. Polyphemus is gigantic in comparison to Odysseus and his men. In order for Odysseus and his men to reach the giant’s eye, Polyphemus had to by lying on the floor. Odysseus manipulates the Cyclops enticing him to “have some wine to wash down the meal of human flesh” (119, lines 45-46). Then, after a drink to many, “he toppled over and fell face upwards on the floor” (119, lines 371-372). Polyphemus, unlike Odysseus, uses his brute strength more than he uses his knowledge. Overindulging on the wine that Odysseus presents to him, Polyphemus falls asleep and makes himself vulnerable to Odysseus and his men. Odysseus’s cunning scores a victory over the Cyclops’s brutality. Odysseus is presented with the greatest opportunity. With the one-eyed giant deep in slumber, he can simply slaughter him. However, he is too clever to simply kill the giant. He controls his emotions and places his knowledge ahead of vengeance. He brings his intelligence to...

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