Great Books and Ideas I
11 October 2017
“A true leader has the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions, and the compassion to listen to the needs of others,” said Douglas MacArthur. In the epic, Odysseus proves to be a good leader in certain ways, but doesn’t always live up to everyone’s expectations. Odysseus shows sides of him that only a good leader would show throughout his journey back to Ithaca. He sacrifices and risks a lot throughout the voyage to make sure his wife, Penelope, and son, Telemachus. The hope he upholds allows his men to stand by his side and try and return home too. His bravery, perseverance, and strength are exposed to the readers through the challenges he faces along the way. He’s both physically and intellectually strong, which is what every good leader should attain.
I believe that Odysseus is a prime example of a good leader in the epic. It’s very easy to say he does exhibit moral responsibility through his actions. During the Battle of Troy, Odysseus played the role as a strategist and advisor. His persuasion is what kept Agamemnon from withdrawing from the battle. He was known for his brilliant creation of the Trojan horse, a wooden horse that was supposedly a gift to the Trojans from the retreating Greeks. The Trojans fully accepting the gift got drunk that night and so the hidden Greek warriors revealed themselves and defeated the Trojans. Odysseus’ plan lead to their ultimate victory over the people of Troy.
Being a good leader requires intelligence, a trait Odysseus proves to have. In book 9 of the Odyssey, the Trojan War had ended and Odysseus was leading his man back home, the island of Ithaca. The storms, however, were so strong that it landed them on the island of the Cyclops Polyphemus. There, Odysseus and his troop try to find supplies including food but end up being eaten by the Cyclops. They get trapped in Polyphemus’ cave. At this point, you would think that Odysseus would give up since he can see his men being eaten by the awful monster. However, he doesn’t and instead develops a plan to escape the cave. He decides to use the fire to make a spear in which he will us on Polyphemus upon his return to the cave. When Polyphemus returns, he is blinded and crying for help from the other Cyclops. When asked for his name, Odysseus replies “Nobody is my name. My father and mother call me Nobody, as do all the others who are my companions.”(Homer 366) And so when the other Cyclops asked Polyphemus who hurt him, he would tell them nobody. This allowed for Odysseus’ identity be kept a secret. Following this incident, Odysseus immediately thinks of a way to get his men back to the ships safely without getting caught. His initial idea is to tie them to the sheep’s belly that way they aren’t detected by the Cyclops. “…but I was planning so that things would come out the best way, and trying to find some release from death, for my companions and myself too,...