One Hero: Odysseus

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Hero, noun, a person who distinguishes courage, intelligence, perseverance, and extreme ability. Courage is the willingness to face your fears, intelligence is the ability to solve problems, and perseverance is not giving up even though you want to. In Homer’s epic The Odyssey Odysseus shows heroic qualities such as bravery, intellect, and the determination to get home to Ithaca.
For example, Odysseus displays valor and a will to help his men in the episode “The Sirens; Scylla and Charybdis.” He demonstrates this when he says to the Phaecian court, “Going forward I carried wax along the line, and laid it thick on their ears. They tied me up, then, plumb amidships, back to the mast, lashed to the mast, and took themselves again to rowing” (12.744-48). Fearlessness is a true trademark of heroism and Odysseus displays that by volunteering himself to be tied to the mast and listen to the deceiving Sirens. It might just be his ego saying that the Sirens won’t affect him, but in any way this is a very valiant act. To get his men ready for the Sirens, Odysseus says, “Friends have we never been in danger before this? More fearsome, is it now, than when the Cyclops penned us in the cave? What power we had!” (12.772-75). In this dramatic speech of Odysseus’s, he is rallying his men like all great leaders and heroes do. Courage is one of the true trademarks of heroes.
In addition, Odysseus manifests cleverness that no one after him will ever match in the episode “ The Cyclops.” We see this in Odysseus’s keen plan: “Straight forward they sprinted, lifted it, and rammed it deep in his crater eye” (9.376-78). After handicapping Polyphemus, Odysseus and his men stabbed Polyphemus’s eye with a spear and made him blind. Talking to his fellow Cyclops’, Polyphemus says, “Nohbdy’s tricked me, Nohbdy’s ruined me! To this rough shout they made a sage reply: ‘Ah well, if nobody has played you fail, there in your lonely bed, we are no use in pain given by great Zeus” (9.403-08). In this excerpt, Odysseus reveals his true ingeniousness by stabbing Polyphemus in the eye and then fooling the other Cyclops’ by making them think Polyphemus meant that “nobody tricked me” instead of “Nohbdy tricked me.” A great hero can’t always use brute strength to get out of their predicaments. Sometimes they have to use intelligence and Odysseus shows that throughout the poem.
Finally, Laerte’s son exhibits perseverance over the twenty years of trying to get home. Although all the gods had forgiven Odysseus, one god still hadn’t, “Yet all the gods had pitied Lord Odysseus, all but Poseidon, raging cold and rough against the brave king” (1.29-31) Odysseus has to persevere through these bad times because he has upset Poseidon, and the god of the seas roughs up the oceans and altars Odysseus’s journey. When he finally gets home, Odysseus finds his son Telemachus, “Throwing his arms around this marvel of a father Telemachus began to weep” (16.1028-30). After twenty years, Odysseus finally gets rewarded for his efforts and gets to rejoice with his son. To experience all the hardships he faced, Odysseus has to have great fortitude. Without his attitude, he would have given up and stayed with Calypso or Circe.
Courage is getting past the Sirens, intelligence is fooling the Cyclops, and perseverance is spending twenty years to get back home. By showing temerity, smarts, and persistence, Odysseus is definitely a hero. By textbook definition and my own definition, Odysseus is a hero.





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19ewilkerson said...
Mar. 30, 2016 at 11:06 am
Can someone please tell me when this article was published? Thank you.
 
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