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Odysseus Heroism Essay, Research Paper

Odysseus heroismThe journey in Homer’s tragic poem involves a test which will prove whether the main character, Odysseus, is worthy of achieving his goal. To be worthy is to posses the qualities of a hero, such as strength, courage, faith, intelligence, politeness, hospitality, respect for the gods and attachment to his family. During his journey, Odysseus faces many obstacles, such as sexual temptations, Poseidon’s storms, and his companions’ foolish acts, but at the end he is able to overcome these adversities because of his heroic qualities. During the journey that Odysseus undertakes, all these characteristics are presented. His faith is displayed in his conversation with Kalypso (V, 219-224). In this passage, Kalypso tries to convince Odysseus to stay with her by telling him the hardships he will have to go through, but he is faithful to his ultimate goal and responds that he will endure every difficulty sent to him by Poseidon. One of the most important heroic qualities that Odysseus possesses is his intelligence, which he shows throughout the poem. Through his intelligence, Odysseus is always able to avoid or overcome all his temptations and physical obstacles. For instance, in book IX Odysseus and his companions face Polyphemos. Poseidon’s son is much stronger than Odysseus and his companions, but the hero very cleverly tricks the cyclops (IX, 412-413), and they manage to escape. Furthermore, strength is another of Odysseus’ heroic qualities. Odysseus’ strength is displayed in the second part of the poem, when he very gently strings the bow which none of the suitors could string. This passage not only shows how strong Odysseus is, but also shows his delicacy when using his strength.

However, Odysseus has other qualities other than intelligence and strength. In book V Odysseus’ emotional qualities are displayed when Hermes goes to Ogigya and finds the hero crying in the beach (lines 151-158) because he cannot bear the pain of being separated from his family. In this passage, Homer gives the image of an affective and caring hero. The attachment to his family is what gives Odysseus the motivation to get home. Moreover, Odysseus possesses a virtue that is positively portrayed by Homer’s society: fame. In Homer’s society, to achieve fame one had to struggle and overcome many obstacles. Odysseus has suffered for a long time and become famous, as he states in a conversation with Alkino s (IX, 19-20). In the second part of the poem Odysseus finally arrives in Ithaca. Once at home, he uses his heroic qualities to kill the suitors and achieve his final goal. First, he needs courage and faith to follow Athene’s advice of killing the suitors. Then, using his intelligence, he thinks up a plan, and finally, with all his strength, manages to execute it. Odysseus cruelty in this part of the poem is understood by Homer’s audience to be a good heroic quality because the gods took active part in the killing of the suitors. Odysseus possesses all the heroic qualities that Homer depicts as positive in his society. In contrast, Odysseus’s companions were brave and courageous, but they did not have the moral values of a hero and they gave into despair. That is why at the end only the hero, Odysseus, passes all the tests and achieves his ultimate goal: his homecoming. by mr_campeador@yahoo.com


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