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Oddysey Odesseus Essay, Research Paper

Throughout the history of traditional story telling, well developed characters have been a

fundamental aspect. We marvel at these characters as they become the universal heroes who we pass on to

future generations. These characters exemplify some of the most admirable of all human characteristics. The

famous greek story teller Homer speaks of one such hero in his epic poem The Odyssey. After fighting

victoriously in the Trojan war, Homer’s character Oddysseus begins a seemingly endless journey back to

his home land of Ithaca. On this voyage Oddyseus shows us the value of a quick and cunning mind and

demonstrates true bravery while still reminding us of his strong unbreakable love for his loyal wife

Penelope. Oddyseus’ bravery, wit, and endless love make him a character truly deserving of our homage.

Throughout Odysseus’ long journey home, he encounters several dangerous creatures in

countless unknown lands. The following excerpt displays Odysseus’ incredible bravery as he disembarks

and begins to explore the island he and his shipmates have uncovered:

The land was not far off, and when we reached it we saw a cave… these were the night-quarters of a monstrous man…Indeed he was a wonderful monster, not like a mortal man who eats bread, but rather like a mountain peek with trees on top standing up alone in the highlands… I had a foreboding that we would meet a man of mighty strength, but savage, knowing neither justice nor law… I picked out twelve of the best men I had, and we set out. (p.p. 103-104)

Odysseus is a man of many strengths and talents but in keeping with greek literary tradition we are

reminded that,as a human and not a god, he also posesses some weaknesses. Oddyseus fully understood

the dangers of exploring into the cave and yet the voice of his natural curious nature cajoled him in. Here he

does indeed demonstrate true bravery, however, some would say stupidity is equally showcased.

Homer only places our beloved hero in risky story lines because he provides the character with

features that allow him to manuever through them. Odysseus is a well developed character who’s quick and

cunning mind prove to be more than benificial in multiple situations. While Polyphemus, a monstrous one

eyed giant, is away from home tending to his daily buisness, Odysseus and his men proceed to enter into

his cave and eat his food. Upon his return, the outraged Cyclops devoures two of Odysseus’ men and

informs the others that it is only a matter of time before they suffer the same fate. Knowing his mens lives

are in danger, our hero comes up with a plan of attack in order to escape from the grips of the treterous

giant. When the monster requests to know our heros name, odysseus is put in a predicament. If he is to

attack polyphemus, he musn’t let him know his identity. Knowing he must comply but not wanting to reveal

his true identity, the witty Odysseus quickly comes up with a scheme: (Odysseus speaking)

Then I gave him a second draught. Three drinks i gave him; three times the fool drank. At last, when the wine had got into his head, I said to him in the gentlest of tones:

“Cyclops, do you ask my name? Well I shall tell you, and you shall give me the strangers due, as you promised. Noman is my name; Noman is what mother and father call me and all my friends” (p. 107)

When Odysseus pierces the eye of the Cyclops, the monster storms to the entrance of the cave and

screams to his fellow giants “Noman has harmed me.” His friends upon hearing “no man” has harmed me

assume nothing is wrong and therefore no one comes to his aid. Now, as a result of Odysseus’ quick

thinking, the remaining trojan warriors escape.

Homer balances Oddyseus’ masculine traits with a softer side of devotion and compassion. Oddysseus is a man of brains, bravery, and strength, but he is also a caring man of love. His dedication to his wife Penelope is perhaps the most praisable of all his characterisitcs. Oddyseus would even be willing to throw way guarunteed “good life”, all for the possibility of seeing his beautifull wife again. This quote from the epic poem perfectly exhibits his love, and self sacrificing devotion: (Nymph goddess Calypso speaking)

Prince Odysseus La rtiad s, now is the time to show your famous cleverness! so you want to go home at once?… If you knew what troubles you will have before you get to Ithaca, you would stay where you are and keep this house with me, and be immortal, however much you may want to see your wife,whom you long for day in and day out. Is she prettier than I? I think not. I don’t think it likely that a mortal woman would set herself up as a model of beauty against a goddess.

(Oddysseus responds:)

My wife is nothing compared to you for beauty… She is mortal, you are immortal and never grow old. But even so, I long for the day of my home-coming. And if some god wrecks me on the deep, I will endure it, for I have a patient mind. I have suffered already many troubles and hardships in battle and tempest; this will be only one more.

This inspring, beautifull love reveals values of greek society such as loyalty to family and country. When offered not only a beautifull goddess wife, but immortality as well, Oddysseus refuses and decides to endure the hardships of the sea journey back Ithaca, all for the chance to one day see his loyal Penelope.

Throughout history, the basics of literary tradition haven’t changed much. Wether it be in ancient day Greece or modern day America, when authors want you to appreciate a character, they make them well rounded. Usually portrayed are multiple, universaly admirable, characteristics. Homer’s Odysseus can easily be compared to fictional characters of today such as J. K Rowling’s Harry Potter. Both are given respected qualities like bravery, strength , leadership, and intelligence. Odysseus’ strength is of the physical type and Harry’s of the magical kind. Oddysseus leads his fellow war veteran shipmates and Harry leads his fellow classmates. Although differences exist, a comparison is still easily identified. Although the flow of the water beneath may shift slightly as time passes, the the bridge between the epic poems of history and the story books of today will always be standing strong.

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