Theme Of Pride In The Odyssey

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The line between self-confidence and arrogance is a fine line to walk, especially for those fortunate enough to be skilled and praised widely for it. The interactions between humans and gods make up a significant portion of classical mythology as we know it. One of the most common themes that is explored in a multitude of Greco-Roman myths is hubris, which Dr. Arnold Mitchell defines as “insolence stemming from excessive pride [. . .] It is a pride which challenges the gods, that is, defies the nature of reality, and destroys a man.” While a hero in one of these myths may be justified in their evaluation of their talent or characteristic of pride, when it defies the gods, divine punishment is enforced accordingly, sometimes leading to death.…show more content…
During Odysseus’s long journey home from the Trojan War, he and his crewmates stop an island inhabited by Polyphemus the Cyclops. Odysseus cleverly executes an escape for himself and his crewmates after blinding the Cyclops with a stake. However, even as their ship sails away, a hubris-filled Odysseus continues to taunt Polyphemus, even recklessly announcing his identity, “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!” This instance of Odysseus striving for glory and boasting of his own cleverness catalyzes the demise of the rest of Odysseus’ journey home since Polyphemus curses Odysseus by name, and Poseidon answers his Cyclops son’s prayers. Odysseus is now stranded on Calypso’s island, having lost all his crewmates to additional acts of hubris. However, in this state of utmost despair, Odysseus regains his humility. He rejects Calypso’s offer to immortalize him, the penultimate act of hubris in which one ascends directly to the status of the gods. Instead, he spends his days “wrenching his heart with sobs and groans and anguish, gazing out over the barren sea through blinding tears.” It is at this…show more content…
The stories of Arachne, Hippolytus, and Odysseus consistently show the disastrous effects of defying social hierarchal norms like irreverence toward one’s superiors. The epic of Odysseus showcases the potential of reward after the dismissal of hubris and the reinstatement of devotion to the gods. While one may be justified in one’s egotism, these stories in classical mythology send the message to citizens of ancient Greece and Rome that above all, one must abide by the rules within hierarchal power structures and pay due respect to those at the heads of
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