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The Odyssey Response Paper

2396 words - 10 pages

True wisdom, according to the Odyssey, is having the ability to reflect on your experiences and tradition, and then doing what ought to be done in similar situations based on the virtues you learned and gained through these insights. The Odyssey portrays a man’s journey toward and growth in true wisdom through his better knowledge of human nature. He undergoes many different trials on his journey back to his home and family, and it is during these trials that Odysseus has insights into human nature. These insights lead to Odysseus’s newfound wisdom, which he achieves by the time he returns home to Ithaca. It is thus during Odysseus’s journey and return home that we most clearly see him ...view middle of the document...

In some instances, it might be considered wise to be cunning, but this does not make cunning a mark of wisdom. Odysseus finally learns how to relate cunning and wisdom after he reaches Phaiacia and reflects on his past experiences. These reflections are the way he gains the virtues (parts of true wisdom) that he actually uses to make the relation between the two.
The relationship he finds is wisdom is needed to direct cunning. Both cunning and cunning with wisdom require much planning and reflection, but the purpose of this planning and reflection determines if you are using your skill of cunning well. If you are constantly manipulating others regardless of the cost to them just to get your way, you are not allowing wisdom to guide your cunning. This is shown when Broadsea is able to rope Odysseus into joining in the Phaiacians’ sports (p. 95). He was doing this to get his way and make Odysseus participate, and in the end paid for it by being shown up by Odysseus in sports and being forced to give him a gift. On the other hand, if you reflect on the purpose of your cunning or on previous experiences you have had in similar situations, wisdom is directing your cunning and it is used well. Manipulation without reflection is a selfish act, but when you are manipulating after making insights into human nature, based on reflections on tradition and past experiences, you are allowing wisdom to guide your manipulation. This makes sure the means by which you are manipulating are good, and the end is also a just cause. Odysseus allows his growing wisdom to guide his cunning when he engineers a plan to retake his home from the suitors (p. 205). This plan was the best way to retake his house because the odds would be against him if he attacked right away (a rash move). Instead, he decided upon a plan that implemented the virtues he gained throughout his journey and used new reflections he made after Telemachos gave him information about the suitors. This plan was also helpful to many people besides himself who were being pressured or maltreated because of the suitors, showing he did not do this out of selfishness but realization of the connection between cunning and wisdom. These virtues he gained and used to relate cunning and wisdom were all focused around one central aspect of true wisdom, which he had to learn before he could learn any of the others.
This central aspect of true wisdom is humility. Humility involves having self-knowledge, such that you know you are not the best and not the worst, but somewhere in between. If you think you are the best, pride will not be considered an aspect of fallen human nature for you. If you think you are the worst, you will not realize envy is a part of fallen human nature because it is all you will know in your life. Once you know your place, you lose your misconceptions about human nature and are able to make good, true insights into human nature. Odysseus fully learns his place when he visits Phaiacia and is...

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