Odysseus: Man of Many Traits

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Odysseus, the ruler of the island kingdom of Ithaca, was known by all for his cleverness and cunning, but what I noticed throughout my readings of Odysseus is that he is also shows some weaknesses at times. I will discuss examples of each of these prevalent traits throughout this essay. Throughout The Odyssey, Odysseus is driven to many wanderings during which he sees many wonders and endures many sufferings. Part of Homer’s theme in The Odyssey is the vicissitudes that have promoted Odysseus’s various character traits. He can be clever, as seen when he tricks Polyphemus by calling himself “nobody”. .. “So, you ask me the name I’m known by, Cyclops? / I will tell you. But you must give me a guest-gift / as you’ve promised. Nobody-that’s my name. Nobody- / so my mother and father call me, all my friends.” (9.408-412) When Polyphemus is moaning and calling to his friends that he has been injured, they come running to his cave. They ask their fellow Cyclops what has happened and when he replies that he has been harmed by “nobody”, he receives no sympathy or help. He also is very clever when faced with the obstacle of the Sirens. Because he knows how dangerous it is to hear the song of the Sirens, he uses wax to plug the ears of his men, and leaves his own free to hear. He has his men tie him down tight to the ship and they manage to, yet again, escape the danger courtesy of Odysseus’ clever mind, and navigate to safety.

Though Odysseus may not always have a handle on his pride and gloat, he is quite able to handle mind-over-matter situations like the one he is faced with on Helios’ island. When they come to the island, Odysseus demands that his crew will not eat the sacred livestock. Though they are trapped on the island for so long that their food supply dwindles and they begin to starve, Odysseus keeps his word and though he is slowly starving while surrounded by luscious herds, he never gives into the temptation of killing and eating the cattle....
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