The Great Hero Odysseus Essay

1294 words - 5 pages

Fictional heroes in literature are characters that embark on grueling, mind-altering journeys even though they receive no personal gain from these missions. Heroes overcome difficult challenges and resist temptations while also learning important life lessons and acquiring an enlightened perspective. The epic poem The Odyssey by Homer chronicles the great hero Odysseus’s return trip to Ithaka. His long and demanding voyage to his homeland leaves Odysseus a changed man. However, many argue whether Odysseus truly earns the title of “hero.” There is evidence for both sides of this argument. Because of his cleverness, his undying bravery and his ability to learn from past mistakes, Odysseus proves himself a hero.
Odysseus’s clever and cunning skills allow him to make it back to Ithaka after a demanding expedition. He creates well thought-out plans to destroy obstacles in his path. When Odysseus and his men are trapped in the dwelling of Polyphemos, the Kyklops, he devises a plan to escape, knowing full well that utilizing his brains over the giant’s brawn will be the only way to make it out alive. Here Odysseus not only shows he is clever but also displays selflessness by put his men before himself. After returning home, Odysseus still have one more challenge to conquer: the suitors. With his son, Telemakhos, Odysseus is able to kill the suitors despite the uneven numbers. This is due to his carefully strategy that required sharp wits and enormous patience. Odysseus also proves he is not easily fooled by not immediately revealing his true identity to strangers. He knows that it is wise to keep his identity a secret. The beggar Odysseus is a great example of this deception. Odysseus returns to Ithaka a beggar so that the suitors do not know that the great Odysseus has returned. This allows for him to kill the suitors later on. Odysseus even lies to Athena about his true identity when he first arrives on the island. Athena describes Odysseus as a “chameleon” and a “bottomless bag of tricks” (XIII, 374-375). Even in his own homeland, Odysseus does not let his guard down so easily because he knows everything is just beginning. The great hero is also able to think quickly on his feet and trick others to avoid sticky situations. For example when Polyphemos asks Odysseus his name, he replies simply: “My name is Nohbdy: mother, father, and friends, everyone calls me Nohbdy” (IX, 397 -398). When Polyphemos calls for help from his fellow Kyklops, they believe he is crazy for screaming, “Nohbdy, Nohbdy’s tricked me, Nohbdy’s ruined me--” (IX, 444), and do not run to help him. This enables Odysseus and his men to escape the giant unharmed. Quick-thinking and wily skills permit Odysseus to prevail over challenges.
The iron courage Odysseus displays in the face of danger builds a strong sense of loyalty and obedience among his men. By battling monsters and powerful gods, Odysseus proves to his crew that he is fearless. He first proves this...

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