Odysseus's Heroic Attributes Essay

1080 words - 4 pages

The epic poem The Odyssey, written by Homer, centers around the main protagonist Odysseus and his long journey back home. Odysseus, the king of Ithaca, returns home after defeating the Trojans in a ten year war. On his way back, he angers Poseidon, god of the sea, by blinding his son, Polyphemus the Cyclops. Due to Odysseus’ actions, Poseidon refuses to let Odysseus reach home, and Odysseus and his crew are forced to go through a series of obstacles throughout the epic. Through this adversity, Odysseus must show his heroic attributions in order to survive. Homer portrays Odysseus as a hero by giving him characteristics such as: craftiness, loyalty, and bravery.
In situations where brute force has failed, Odysseus uses his craftiness to create a plan and escape a difficult situation. Without his cleverness, Odysseus would not be able to survive. An example of Odysseus’ inventiveness is demonstrated in the following quote:
My moment was at hand, and i went forward
holding an ivy bowl of my dark drink,
looking up, saying:
‘Cyclops try some wine.
Here’s liquor to wash down your scraps of men.’ (Homer pg. 991, lines 294-298)
When Odysseus and his men realized they were trapped inside the cave, Odysseus was smart enough to realize that they would be trapped forever by the Cyclops boulder if they killed him. Not only is Odysseus smart enough to create a plan of escape by getting the Cyclops drunk but also stays calm and collected to trick the Cyclops into drinking the wine without arousing suspicion. As a result, they stab the Cyclops, blinding him. To hide his identity as king of Ithaca and to trick the neighboring Cyclops he gives a false name by saying, “My name is Nohbody: mother, father, and friends, / everyone calls me Nohbody.” (Homer, lines 315-316). By doing so he anticipates Polyphemus’ cry for help and avoids getting chased by the other Cyclops. Odysseus’ craftiness sets him apart from the other characters as a hero because he succeeds when others fail.
Another trait that Odysseus demonstrates repeatedly throughout the story is his loyalty. In various situations he never gives up on his crew, even when he has reason to. During an episode in the epic, Odysseus travels to the underworld to receive a prophecy. He meets his great friend Elpenor, who has died earlier in Circe’s hall. Because he is unburied and unmourned he asks Odysseus to build a cairn in his honor. Odysseus replies, “Unhappy spirit, / I promise you the barrow and the burial.” (Homer, lines 609-610). Although Odysseus is preoccupied with finding Tiresias, he shows loyalty to his crew mate by spending time with his spirit, and carrying out the spirit’s request. It could have been easy for Odysseus to ignore the spirit of Elpenor, but Odysseus shows a real emotional reply to this meeting. Not only does he show loyalty to his crew but his homeland as well. Although he could have given up during the ten year span Odysseus wandered from home, he persisted even...

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