A hero has many admirable traits that are attributed to them. Today, one would describe a hero as someone with courage, bravery and a clear conscience to invoke good deeds. In mythology, heroes are also present and hold the same qualities as our modern heroes. Heroes just like Odysseus who after spending ten years trying to return home from the Trojan War, wants nothing more than to get back to his wife, son and reclaim his position as king of Ithaca.. But hardships that appear during his voyage demonstrate his courage and intelligence. Using these traits he is able to reach his ultimate goal and become the hero he is meant to be. But to become the hero, Odysseus needs to fulfill the six steps that were set by Joseph Campbell, who illustrated these steps in his text Hero with a Thousand Faces. These steps include: 1. Leaving home; 2. Deciding upon a quest; 3. Encountering dragons; 4. All-out fights; 5. a wound (left upon the hero from his/her encounter with a dragon.; 6. Wisdom which the hero learns that informs his or her life thereafter, or a wisdom won that can be shared with the hero’s people. Odysseus almost illustrates the true definition of a hero and, goes on a hero’s journey to attempt just that. Odysseus must face many challenges and dangers to reach his objective. Through the way he eradicates them, it is evident that he has successfully completed parts of the hero’s journey but fails to complete the last step.
Odysseus is successful in completing the first two steps of the hero’s journey and starts off his journey by leaving home. Odysseus leaves his beloved home of Ithaca to fight in the War of Troy and knows that he will not be able to return for a long time. This demonstrates the first phase of the hero’s journey because: “He had traveled far in the world, after the sack of Troy” (Homer: 11). He has not returned in such a long time that his absence leads his son to think that “... Even if there are people in the world who say he will come back. No, the day of his return will never dawn” (Homer: 15). His son, Telemachus has given up hope that Odysseus will ever return home. Odysseus’ quest is to return to his kingdom, which demonstrates the second phase. Odysseus is “...alone, longing to get home to his wife” (Homer: 11). He leaves Ithaca unwillingly knowing that he will have to face many unprecedented dangers and wants to remain in Ithaca, the one safe place that has no real dangers or monsters to preoccupy him.
Along his journey, Odysseus encounters many monsters during stage four and is involved in a fight in stage five that brings him close to death. Monsters are often portrayed as wicked and cruel beings and those are the traits the Cyclops Polyphemus exhibits. When Odysseus encounters Polyphemus, it seems as if he has finally met someone who has the ability to best him. In order to defeat this “monster” Odysseus must examine all angles of the situation carefully. From Odysseus’ perspective, Polyphemus is seen as: