Machiavelli and Odysseus

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Power and Leadership

The Connection of Power and Leadership between The Odyssey and The Prince

Research Assignment
Stories in Diverse Media
LAPS/HUMA 1780

Prepared for:
Dr. Gillian Helfield
Mr. Julian Manyoni

Prepared by:
Samuel James Ysip
212-697-983
Power and Leadership
Power and leadership play a big role in accomplishing the objectives of a team. A person having these two attributes can direct a group of people towards achieving their common goal. These two components of authority are also essential to each other in order for the leader to be successful. Power is a person’s ability to influence others and leadership is a person’s talent to guide a group of people to achieve their common goal. A person that has power but without the capacity to make the right decisions for the team will definitely fail to lead a team to their goal and a person without the influence on others but with the talent to lead a team will sure not be able to implement the qualities of a great leader to a group. Homer’s The Odyssey and Machiavelli’s The Prince are two books that both contain themes about power and leadership. Homer’s The Odyssey contains information about Odysseus’ leadership capabilities during his journey home to Ithaca and how he reacted on different situations that involve critical leadership decisions. It also contains the status of his leadership in his homeland and what kind of monarchy he has. On the other hand, Machiavelli’s The Prince gives out information and guidelines on what a Machiavellian leader should be and how he should react in different kinds of situations. It also contains different theories on how the structure of a monarchy affects a king’s superiority in his own kingdom. Throughout Odysseus’ journey, he made questionable decisions that contradict the teachings of Machiavelli. By not following the guidelines of Machiavelli on leadership and power management, as a result, Odysseus failed to lead his team safely back to Ithaca. Through Machiavelli’s theory, on could also argue that because of the structure of Odysseus’ kingdom in Ithaca, it resulted to the noble men in Achaea to take advantage of his absence, thus resulting to the exploitation of his land. The disobedience of Odysseus’ crew members to his orders resulting to their death, the act of contempt of Eurylochus against Odysseus and the effects of political structure in Ithaca to Odysseus’ supremacy as king are the three factors that constitute the power and leadership issues in The Odyssey which are connectedly criticized and discussed through the guidelines and theories of Machiavelli in The Prince. The disobedience of Odysseus crew members to his order of not eating the cattle of Helios which resulted to their death is the outcome of Odysseus’ failure to apply the teaching of Machiavelli about being compassionate or cruel. In chapter seventeen of The Prince, Machiavelli stated that, “A ruler mustn’t worry about being labelled cruel when it’s a question of keeping his subjects loyal and united . . . he will prove more compassionate than the leader whose excessive compassion leads to public disorder, muggings and murder. ” (65). Odysseus’ compassion towards Eurylochus; a high ranking crew member that insults him and constantly tries to lure Odysseus’ crew members to disobey his orders, resulted to the death of the crew members and further delayed his return to Ithaca. Eurylochus’ exploitations in the story began to develop when they arrived at the island of Aeaea. Eurylochus disagreed with Odysseus’ decision to go back to Circes palace to have his men rest after a long travel. He then insulted Odysseus by saying, “So too it happened with the Cyclops, when our companions went into his yard, and the bold Odysseus was of their company; for it was by this man’s recklessness that these too perished.” (10. 435-438). These two incidents alone have enough grounds for Odysseus to take actions on Eurylochus’ obvious disregard of his...
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