The Role Of Loyalty In Homer's Odyssey

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What would you consider loyalty? Would you consider a man who has stayed away from home for twenty years, away from his wife and child, loyal? A man who put himself into life-threatening circumstances for all but no reason, without telling his family? What about a man who slept with multiple women multiple times, while married? Well, Odysseus, from The Odyssey, did all that and more, proving just how loyal he isn’t.

The first offense Odysseus had on his loyalty to Penelope was when he slept and flirted with different women on three different occasions. The first being when Odysseus slept with the Cicones women, the second being when he slept with Circe for a year, and the third being when he slept with Calypso during his imprisonment on her
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(Homer, 10.515-20)

Once again, Odysseus proves he is not loyal to Penelope by just how many dangerous situations he puts himself in. One may say that it was necessary for his return home, but there were some that were not. He risked his life for no reason, almost leaving Penelope and Telemachus without him with no way of knowing so. One of these times being when Odysseus and his men invaded and then fought the Cicones:
[...] we stood and fought them off, massed as they were, but then when the sun wheeled past the hour for unyoking oxen, the Cicones broke our lines and beat us down at least.
Out of each ship, six men-at-arms were killed; the rest of us rowed away from certain doom. (Homer, 9.66-70

Multiple points with multiple reasons show that Odysseus is not loyal to his wife, Penelope. He left her and their son for twenty years cheated on her multiple times, and put himself into many life-threatening situations when they knew nothing of where or how he was. Odysseus was not loyal to Penelope, his own wife, and should not be seen as such. While he may be the hero of the story, he is not Penelope’s
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