Clever Victor

May 5, 2013
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Odysseus, strong and clever, mighty and brave, whom faced many trials and tribulations on his epic journey back to his homeland Ithaca, was certainly a classic heroic figure in the past and is still a heroic figure in the present. Homer creates Odysseus’s character as a very manly, powerful, cunning figure, showing extraordinary qualities, risking his life for his country, men, and family. Homer’s writing is an example to all civilizations regarding whether or not Odysseus is a moral hero or a hero who becomes moral--a question argued for 3,000 years. Today the heroic qualities of Odysseus can be examined through reading and studying Homer’s Odyssey.

The Odyssey is the written journey of Odysseus Laertes, his journey of keeping hope, finding home, and discovering the true meaning of family. He left for Troy a celebrated, selfish leader and returned to Ithaca a strategical, selfless leader. “He had traveled far in the world, after the sack of Troy, the virgin fortress; he saw many cities of men, and learnt their mind; he endured many troubles and hardships in the struggle to save his own life and to bring back his men safe to their homes” (Homer 11). Due to their lack of respect, many of Odysseus’s men perished in their own madness, which is a huge contribution to the opposing side of Odysseus’s stance as a hero. According to Cambridge University Press, “Homer wanted to challenge the idea of a classical hero. Not the one who dies on the battlefield, but the one who is strong and clever enough to survive the war, come home and continue to be a leader” (Finkelberg 1). Homer certainly claimed his prize, Odysseus the hero, who did arrive home and continue to be a mighty leader.

When introducing the state of one’s mind, one must not act dubiously, but certain in the way they approach their own knowledge. Odysseus’s cleverness came fourth in all corners of his tale, and he did not act shyly upon it. Within Homer’s Odyssey, Odysseus stirs up trouble everywhere, but always ends up outwitting his opponent, escaping the tale end of the danger. “Odysseus is not dishonourable in The Illiad, but he uses deceptive, clever language to persuade the enemy. In The Odyssey he tells flat lies and has a reputation for ‘craftiness and will’” (Stanford 3). Certainly Odysseus’s cleverity does get him into occasional trouble that may send him in wayward directions, but the gods and goddesses always seem to be lurking near with a helping hand. The trait of being clever is not one of Odysseus’s flaws.

Odysseus acquits himself of any wrongdoing when he speaks of himself, he tells of his brave heart the way he wants others to see it. Homer doesn’t tend to write with bias, or a one-sided view and presentation of a hero’s glory, he typically shows the pain and suffering of a singular man. Odysseus’s brave actions throughout the whole novel are expressed through mythos or mystification, as either divine gifts from the gods or through songs sang by fictionalized minstrel’s (Zerba 315-16). Homer’s absence of bias is seen through the character of Odysseus and his portrayal of a human being while allowing himself to be glorified as a mystical hero. “Odysseus is different from other heros because other heroes give examples of how to die; Odysseus sets the example for how to live; such as escaping Calypso, resisting eating the cattle of Helios, and because he’s just an ordinary person” (Finkelberg 10).
Homer appeals to the reader’s ethos about how enduring our hero is, he uses situations such as the pain of personal suffering, loss, coping, and mortality to make his writing more credible, even though he has a very male focalization of the hero (Zerba 316). When offered the chance to live forever as a glorified god, “He did not choose immortality offered by Calypso. He's content with his human life, even though it's full of suffering and makes him just as much of a hero as others” (Finkelberg 10). Odysseus shows much endurance throughout all his trials and tribulations.
Although many will argue that Odysseus is not a moral hero, one continues to argue 3,000 years later that he must be. If heroes were only good people, there would be no heroes. “Homer wanted to challenge the idea of a classical hero, not the one who dies on the battlefield, but the one who is strong and clever enough to survive the war, and come home and continue to be a leader (Finkelberg 1). Odysseus has flaws, like every other mortal being, yet he has great heroic characteristics other mortals do not. One must learn to accept his vices. Through those experiences Odysseus becomes virtuous, he heroically changes himself for his family and home.

Works Cited

Dobel. JPatrick."Mortal Leadership in Homer's Odyssey". Public Integrity, Summer 2006.

Finkelberg, Margalit. "Odysseus and the Genus Hero."Greece and Rome, Second
Series, vol.42,No.1 Cambridge University Press. 10 August, 2012 07:20

Rouse, W.H.D. “The Odyssey by Homer”. Signet Classic: New York , 1999.

Stanford, W.B. "Astute Hero and Ingenious Poet: Odysseus and Homer." The Yearbook
of English Studies, Vol 12, Heroes and the Heroic Special Number. print. Modern Humanities Research Association. 10 August 2012

Zerba, Michelle. "Odyssean Charisma and the Uses of Persuasion". American Journal
of Philology, Volume 130, number 3 (whole number 519). Fall 2009, 313-339. The John Hopkins University Press. Project Muse.

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