Odysseus The Hero Essay

1519 words - 6 pages

A hero accepts who he is as an individual, but strives to change himself for the better. In the epic poem, The Odyssey, by Homer, the main character Odysseus is a valiant king who embarks on a life-changing voyage. While traveling from Troy back to his home in Ithaka, King Odysseus overcomes daunting obstacles, and in doing so discovers his place in the world. Odysseus is truly a heroic figure because he demonstrates courage, improves his character, and wins the support of the gods.
Odysseus is a hero because he acts courageously while facing the many challenges he encounters. Odysseus’s shows great bravery when he engages in physical challenges. Odysseus daringly fights against the suitors, while significantly outnumbered: “For I must tell you this is no affair / of ten or even twice ten men, but scores, throngs of them” (XVI, 291 – 293). Even though Odysseus is facing hundreds of men, his bravery keeps him confident that he can win the battle. Odysseus must use his physical strength when Poseidon punishes him with turbulent waves: “Odysseus’s knees grew slack, his heart / sickened, and he said within himself / Rag of man that I am, is this the end of me?” (V, 307 – 309). Odysseus is exhausted from the torrential sea, yet refuses to give up because of enormous courage and his unwillingness to surrender. Odysseus must also cope with emotional challenges throughout his journey. His emotions are tested when he ventures to the underworld, Hades, and must confront his greatest fear, death: “From every side they came and sought the pit / with rustling cries; and I grew sick with fear. / But presently I gave command to my officers” (XI, 45 -47). Although Odysseus is deeply fearful when he comes face to face with the dead, his mental fortitude helps him to overcome this fear. Odysseus is challenged emotionally when he is tempted to eat the forbidden cattle on the Island of Helios. He is stricken with hunger and longs for nourishment, but he is able to triumph over this temptation by remaining mentally strong: “One day I withdrew to the interior / to pray the gods in solitude, for hope / that one might show me some way of salvation” (XII, 426 – 428). Instead of giving in to temptation, Odysseus heroically prays to the gods. In addition to physical and emotional challenges, Odysseus faces intellectual challenges, and is able to overcome these challenges with quick thinking. Odysseus must utilize his cunning wit when he devises a plan to surprise the suitors in an attack, and hide their weapons: “I / shall signal to you, nodding: at that point / round up all armor, lances, gear of war / left in our hall, and stow the lot away” (XVI, 335 – 338). This challenge tests Odysseus as a tactician, and he is able to succeed with intellectual valor. Odysseus encounters a mental challenge when he is on the Land of the Kyklopes. He quickly tells Polyphemos that his name is “Nohbdy”, and then once the Polyphemos is stabbed, the other Kyklopes think that “Nohbdy” hurt...

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