Examples Of Heroism In The Odyssey

1746 Words7 Pages

Soorya Haravu
Ms. Philipp
English I Honors
10 April 2023
A Fire Behind the Silver Mirror
The highlights of one’s career often outshine the darker experiences that really define his or her capability. Some of the most incapable leaders will hide their vast incompetencies under a spark of wisdom or strength that most think defines their career. An example of this type of leader would be Odysseus, shown in Homer’s The Odyssey. Odysseus is revered by many for his cunning and perseverance as he finally triumphs over the evil suitors after a 20 year journey to and from Troy. However, under those sparks of heroism are a blaze of inadequacies that take the form of two negative traits. Throughout Homer’s The Odyssey, Odysseus shows his incapability …show more content…

Odysseus again shows this shameless naivety right after he acquires the Bag of Winds from King Aeolus. When Odysseus and his men land in Aeolia, they meet the King of the Winds, Aeolus, who gifts them a Bag of Winds. This bag contains all winds except for the favorable West Wind that will take Odysseus and his crew home in 9 days. Odysseus however fails to tell his crew of the bag. Fearing Odysseus is hiding riches from them, the crew open the bag, letting out a hurricane and sending them straight back to Aeolia. Right before opening the bag, Odysseus’ men diplore, “He carries home fine things from/ the spoils of Troy, while we who went the same journey/ return empty-handed. Now Aeolus, for love alone, gives/ him all these gifts. Come on, let’s see how much gold and/ silver there is in the bag” (Homer 18-20). Fear of the unknown is one of the most fundamental characteristics of human nature. If a leader allows an already distrustful and disobedient crew to interpret a situation without guidance, they will act in deceit. However Odysseus lets this deceit occur by leaving the Bag of Winds up for interpretation. The men were told nothing of the importance of this bag. So when Odysseus is seen …show more content…

When Odysseus lands on Ismaros right after the victory at Troy, he and his men raid the island, taking women captive and extracting plunder. However Odysseus is unable to keep his men from getting drunk and letting the captives free, causing war with the skilled Cicones and loss of many of his men. Odysseus depicts the story on Ismaros as entirely the fault of his drunken men, removing his lack of leadership as a cause of the crisis. While telling the story of the Cicones on Phaeacia, Odysseus exclaims, “My men [are] mutinous/ fools, on stores of wine. Sheep after sheep/ they [butcher] by the surf, and shambling cattle,/ feasting—while the fugitive [go]inland, running/ to call to arms the main forces of the Cicones” (Homer 47-51). One of the main attributes of a military leader is to take responsibility. Any commander in the military will verify this. Because behind every failed troop action is a lack of leadership. Odysseus’s leadership on Ismaros has been known to be weak but the way he blames his men entirely for his shortcomings puts his arrogance on full display. He is unable to take responsibility for his actions meaning the problem of his weak leadership is not fixed; this same problem of weak leadership resurfaces after their sail away from Aeolia where his men decide to do as they please

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