In Homer’s prominent epic, The Odyssey, A male protagonist gifted with immense physical strength and power named Odyssey is traveling back home to Ithaca. Over the course of his 10 year journey across vast and treacherous waters, his physical attributes are not enough to help him reach home. He faces many obstacles that he must overcome. The most important obstacle is temptation. His journey home is full of temptation and will challenge his physical and mental capabilities that he must learn to control, and overcome, so that he can find his way back home.
The first example of these transgressions in Odysseus’ journey takes place on the island of the Lotus-eaters. The fruit of the lotus is a tasty and tricky fruit that can tangle the mind so that one forgets about home. While Odysseus’ crew devours the fruit, he chooses not to partake. The discipline that Odysseus shows in this book is unlike that of the rest of the epic. This demonstrates that Odysseus does possess self-control, and that his focus is on reaching home. Although he proves he has the determination to resist temptation, he later falters in the epic. His submission to temptation is a flaw he needs to learn how to control. Odysseus proves that he has the power to overcome; he just doesn’t always have the self-control to resist.
Odysseus is tempted again when he encounters the Cyclops, Polyphemos. Unlike his encounter with the lotus-eaters, he displays a more reckless side when he couldn’t resist screaming out his name in pride after escaping the Cyclops:
“…So they begged,
but they could not bring my fighting spirit round.
I called back with another burst of anger, ”Cyclops—
if any man on the face of the earth should ask you
who blinded you, shamed you so—say Odysseus,
raider of cities, he gouged out your eye,
Laertes’ son who makes his home in Ithaca!”(Book 9, pg 227)
Odysseus has no regard for the consequence of his actions and his self-control he once displayed before is now gone. Odysseus actions are problematic, but he is well aware of what he is provoking. The way he continues to provoke Polyphemos even when he knows it is wrong is very ignorant and childish. The result of his actions leads to a punishment of turmoil and pain produced by Poseidon, Polyphemos’ father. This punishment creates new adversities for Odysseus to master.
Odysseus’ next temptation comes when he and his crew travel to the Aeaean Island, home to the beautiful nymph, Circe. Even after Circe turned his crew into pigs and Odysseus rescues them, he and his crew decide to stay there on the island for an entire year. Circe, a mischievous temptress, offers food, shelter, and safety knowing that they wouldn’t be able to say no. The hospitality that Circe provides Odysseus with gave him a feeling of security. As determined as Odysseus is to reach home, he is unable to resist the temptation of comfort and warmth that Circe provides because he finds it...