Glory In The Odyssey

Better Essays
In Homer’s The Odyssey, protagonist Odysseus faces many challenges throughout his journey from Troy to Ithaca, where he is king. Perhaps one of the most taxing and gruesome obstacles that Odysseus faces, which nearly compromises his return to Ithaca, is Odysseus’ encounter with Polyphemus, the Cyclops son of Poseidon, god of the sea. This encounter is significant because it portrays the contrast between civilized and uncivilized, explores the risks and consequences of temptation, and ultimately reveals Odysseus’ desire for glory. In The Odyssey, Odysseus’ confrontation with the Cyclops Polyphemus is significant because it analyzes both the hero’s and the giant’s characteristics and how those traits contribute to Odysseus’ hero journey.…show more content…
In ancient Greece, “kleos” was an important cultural value of glory. Typically, kleos is achieved through a glorious death. Throughout his journey, Odysseus is constantly striving to gain kleos while still alive. First, he tries to gain glory by obtaining extravagant gifts. Despite his men insisting on raiding the unprotected cave of its loot and leaving the island, Odysseus decided to wait for Polyphemus, the giant to whom the loot belonged, in hopes of receiving a welcoming gift. “But I would not give way – and how much better it would have been – not till I saw him, saw what gifts he’d give” (9.256-259). Odysseus understands that returning home with more gifts will help deliver to him the glory he so desires. As a result, he seeks any opportunity, dangerous as it may be, in order to receive more gifts. This is problematic, since Odysseus does not always realizes when the risks outweigh the benefits. Lastly, Odysseus tries to gain glory by spreading his name across each land he visits, so that his heroic tales are passed along throughout each population. This too, unfortunately for Odysseus, comes with a price as well. After blinding the Cyclops, Odysseus cannot help himself but to shout, “Cyclops – if any man on the face of the earth should ask you who blinded you, shamed you so – say Odysseus, raider of cities, he gouged out your eye, Laertes’ son who makes his home in Ithaca!” (9.558-562). After calling out to the Cyclops and revealing his complete identity, Odysseus’ ships were driven off course in the complete opposite direction, further delaying their journey home. Odysseus’ struggle for kleos while living repeatedly affected him negatively. He continues to seek glory, regardless of the circumstances, and therefore ends up on the brink of death time and time again. Odysseus’ seek for kleos inhibits his ability to identify when the risks outweigh the benefits of any
Get Access