John Ruskin once said, “The first test of truly great man is his humility”. In The Odyssey, an epic poem by Homer, the central character Odysseus learns humility through his failures and growth in obedience making him a hero. Odysseus reaches a heroic status through the lessons learned on his journey, which ultimately taught him the value of obedience and the dangers of arrogance.
In Homer’s “The Odyssey,” Odysseus meets a cyclops named Polyphemus. The Ithacan army finds a cave full of food, and they decide to collect some goods. The cyclops then comes and encloses them in the cave. Since cyclops eat man, Odysseus must come up with a plan. His plan is to give Polyphemus wine, so then he falls asleep and he can poke his one eye out. Poseidon, the sea god, then gives Odysseus a challenging ride back to their hometown, Ithaca.
Odysseus is a typical example of a hero. He is able to pull off miraculous things to save himself and his crew seemingly without fail. The story of his journey is well known, and a great tale of his adventures. In the two parts we have read so far, we see what he is willing to do for his crew, and his intelligence and quick thinking in difficult situations. The first challenge that waits them is the island of Cyclopes. They begin by checking out the island to see if there is any danger, but they are caught. Odysseus then has to lie about the ship saying it had been destroyed. Then after his friends meet a terrible fate, he tells Polyphemus, the giant, his name is Nohbdy. After he stabs the cyclops in the eye, this leads him to say that nobody hurt him. After this Odysseus makes his escape, and is almost caught as they leave, so Odysseus taunts them, telling them his name and story. This is the end of act one. In act two they tell us of the island of Aeolus which ends up giving them a worthless gift, and then the land of Laestrygones, that destroy all of their ships but one. They then end up at Aeaea, and split up into two groups, one to search the island, and the other to watch the ship. The exploring group then gets trapped by Circe’s cunning magic. Following this news, Odysseus is offered help from Hermes for ways to avoid Circe’s magic. He then enters and tries to avoid the fate of his crew. Eventually he is told to bring all of his crew there, and he ends up
In the story, Odysseus is still speaking to the Phaeacians, but is now telling them of his encounter with Polyphemus, the cyclops. Strong winds blew Odysseus and his men to Polyphemus’ island, where they unloaded and entered a cave that Polyphemus happened to live in. When he entered the cave, he closed the entrance with a large boulder that only he could move, trapping himself, his sheep, and Odysseus inside. After he ate some of Odysseus’ men, Odysseus devised a plan to get the cyclops to move the boulder so that the men could escape. He gave Polyphemus liquor, making him drunk, and shoved a massive makeshift spear into his the cyclops’ only eye. Polyphemus immediately moved the stone, but then blocked the entrance with
Throughout the story, Odysseus demonstrates his courage that ultimately allows him to survive. One of these moments was during his journey back to Ithaca, where he faces a race of man eating giants called the Cyclops. Odysseus originally stops his ship there to relish a feast while on his journey back to Ithaca, but while doing so, out of curiosity explores the island. Soon, he finds a deserted house and decides to wait of the owner. The owner was unknowingly one the Cyclops, named Polyphemus. When the giant arrives home, he starts by eating two of the crew members alive. The remaining crew’s reaction to this was, “Crying out, we lifted our hands to Zeus”(Homer 9.287), But Odysseus thought differently, by quickly adapting to the situation and coming up with a plan. More
Odysseus was an effective leader in battle, an amazing fighter, and he was the person who helped defeat Troy by using the wooden horse. Although everyone thought this was a heroic action by Odysseus to obtain victory, the gods were not so happy with him, especially Zeus. The gods punished Odysseus by making his journey back home difficult for him and his men. Even though Odysseus was being challenged by gods, he had traits that were of an epic hero. Also, throughout his journey he had friends and companions to help him travel back to Ithaca safely and obtain his kingdom once again.
Doherty, The University of Chicago Press, 1985, pp. 16-21. Originally published as Précis de littérature grecque, © Presses Universitaires de France, 1980. The author outlines the developments of Greek literature throughout history, as well as the times and individuals of the era of their creation; she begins with Homer, the epic poem, and the traditional ideal of a hero. “The men who people the epic are heroes, and almost all are kings. Even in the Odyssey, where humbler people appear — the swineherd, the nurse, the beggar — these belong to the entourage of a prince” (17). De Romilly outlines the core belief that honor is achieved by the aristocracy through exploits upon the battlefield. However, The Odyssey does not focus on the heroism of the Trojan war; it deals in the aftermath. Odysseus, a man of great glory, wealth and power, is forced on
In the section “In the One-Eyed Giant’s Cave” from Homer’s The Odyssey, Odysseus is portrayed as a hero through his character traits and behaviors. When Odysseus and his men attack the city of Ismarus, the Cicones’ strong hold, Odysseus made sure to fairly distribute the spoils among his men. Odysseus’s behavior shows that he is a great leader, a characteristic of a hero. While Odysseus and his crew are in the Cyclops’ cave, Polyphemus, the cyclops, notices them. Polyphemus asks who they are with a monstrous tone, “‘Strangers!' he thundered out, 'now who are you? Where did you sail from, over the running sea-lanes? Out on a trading spree or roving the waves like pirates, sea-wolves raiding at will, who risk their lives to plunder other men?'” Odysseus and his crew become frightened, but despite this, Odysseus shows the heroic trait of bravery by answering back confidently, “The hearts inside us shook, terrified by his rumbling voice and monstrous hulk.
Throughout Homer’s epic poem, The Odyssey, the main character, Odysseus, exhibits multiple signs of cunning behavior, which therefore drives the plot and aids in characterization. One instance where Odysseus exemplifies his role as a cunning character is when he tricks Polyphemus in an effort to escape the Cyclops’ cave. He develops a plan in which he and his men blind Polyphemus and use the Cyclops’ sheep as a form of escape. This plan is comprised of a series of steps, including the development of a weapon, intoxicating Polyphemus, gouging out his eye, hiding on his sheep, and ultimately, escaping his cave. In an effort to keep his identity a secret, Odysseus tells Polyphemus that his name is “Nobody.” By doing so, when Polyphemus is stabbed, he is unable to inform his startled neighbors about what is happening to or who is harming him, and can only tell them, “Nobody’s killing me now by fraud and not by force!” (Homer 224.
The Epic of Gilgamesh and The Odyssey have been a part of human literature for several years. Both poems are from the category of epic poetry and have a time difference of at least one thousand years apart. Their themes explore different aspects of human cultures and ideologies. The Epic of Gilgamesh is a poem from early Mesopotamian culture while the onset of the Greek civilization inspired The Odyssey. The main characters for these epics are Gilgamesh, a demigod and ruler of Uruk, and Odysseus a great warrior returning home to his wife from war. The two main characters of these epic poems, Gilgamesh and Odysseus share similar and dissimilar traits. Among the qualities these characters display in the respective poems, connection to the gods, pride and courage come as shared traits between the two of them. While strength is a primary trait of both characters, they differ in the degree of strengths they possess. Odysseus displays suburb mental strength while Gilgamesh has more than mortal physical strength.
In The Odyssey, the character Odysseus can be considered a hero because he demonstrates many characteristics that are attributable to most heroes. After the battle at Troy, Odysseus strives to sail back to his homeland (Ithaca); however, he encounters some issues along the way and Poseidon attempts to make it impossible for Odysseus to return home. At the beginning of this journey, Odysseus wants to make it back to Ithaca with all of his crew alive. This selfless goal displays Odysseus acting for the greater good because he knows that these men have families that depend on them and would like for them to come home. Along the journey home, Odysseus and his crew come across a cyclops and become trapped in the cyclops’ cave. Odysseus’ over eagerness
A major theme in the Odyssey is reciprocity: people getting what they deserve. Reciprocity is an important theme in the Odyssey because it explains why Odysseus’ journey was very long and treacherous. Eurylochus, Antinous, and Odysseus all suffered consequences due to poorly made actions. Each of them made the wrong decisions which lead to death and a long/adventurous journey.
From Odysseus’ time with Calypso in Ogygia up until the moment he takes back his home and wife from the suitors in Ithaca, the struggles he faces help answer what makes for a good life. Homer uses Odysseus’ journey throughout “The Odyssey” to identify four aspects of a good life: mortality, honor, hospitality, and experiences. Homer reveals that mortality is necessary for a good life when Odysseus denies the opportunity for immortality that Calypso offers, he shows the significance of honor in his description of Odysseus’ bravery in the Trojan war and the consequent respect that Odysseus’ crew has for him, Homer reinforces the importance of hospitality in each city Odysseus travels to, and he conveys that experiences, good or bad, define a good life.