The Odyssey is an example of Greek history portrayed in literature. As in all Greek literature, the epic hero Odysseus answers a call to action, suffers through great confrontation, and returns with a better understanding of life. Greek stories such as, The Odyssey set the stage for today's modern action movies with epic heroes such as Indiana Jones, Frodo from the Lord of the Rings, and Western cowboys like Roy Rogers and The Lone Ranger.
The first characteristic that makes Odysseus an epic hero is that he answers a call to action. Odysseus answers two calls to action in The Odyssey. His first call is to go to Troy with Agamemnon and rescue Helen even though his son Telemachus has just been born and his wife Penelope doesn't want him to go. Odysseus does not have much of a choice due to the promise he and the other men made when Agamemnon won Helen's hand in marriage. Odysseus' second call to action is to get home to his family after the war in Troy despite all of his confrontations on his journey home. Odysseus does not give in to temptation and not return home, he continues on his journey so he can reclaim his wife and island.
The second characteristic Odysseus possesses that shows that he is an epic hero is the confrontations he faces throughout his journeys. His first confrontation is at the land of the Cicones where he and his men get carried away by greed and stay until the Cicones turn on them and kill six men per ship. His next confrontation is with the Lotus Eaters. The Lotus Eaters feed his men some intoxicating fruit and make them forget about going home. Odysseus has to carry them off the island and lock them up on the ship to continue on his journey.
Then he and his men go to the land of the Cyclops where Odysseus lingers in Polyphemus' cave eating his food and drinking his milk. When Polyphemus returns he first shows hospitality, then he turns violent and eats two of Odysseus' men and imprisons the rest of the men by putting a boulder in front of the entrance that only he can move. Odysseus realizes that Polyphemus is the only one that can move the boulder and devises a plan to blind Polyphemus while he is asleep. When Polphemus awakes, he moves the boulder to tell his brothers what has happened to him. Then Odysseus and his men sneak out of the cave by hiding under Polyphemus' sheep. When Odysseus' pride gets the best of him and he reveals his identity to Polyphemus, then Polyphemus lifts up a prayer to his father Poseidon and curses Odysseus.
Next Odysseus and his men go to the home of Aeolus, ruler of the winds. Aeolus gives Odysseus a bag containing all of the bad winds and stirs up a wind to send Odysseus and his men back to Ithaca. However, Odysseus' men thought that Aeolus had given Odysseus a bag of treasure and thought he wasn't going to share the treasure with them. When Odysseus falls asleep his men open the bag and the winds blow them away from Ithaca back to Aeolus. This time Aeolus will not help them...