The Odyssey - What Is a Hero?

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Ashley
Literature and Composition 1
8 March 2010
“The Odyssey” by Homer
What is a hero? One who holds a proud countenance or obtains a strong build? Different cultures and ethnicities may have their own, unique definition of a hero. Although the Greeks believed that such a principled individual is someone that people look up to, and a title such as this cannot be bestowed upon the ordinary. In Homer’s “The Odyssey”, it is Odysseus who possesses the true characteristics of a hero wisdom, loyalty and showing moral improvement. Homer describes Odysseus as an intelligent individual; this statement is proven fact when in the cave of the Cyclops Polyphemus, Odysseus’s first thought was to kill the giant. Instead of acting upon his first thoughts Odysseus takes the time to use his intelligence and realize that Polyphemus is the only way out of the cave. Odysseus offers wine to Polyphemus who then asks his providers’ name, Odysseus wittily replies with “Nohbody: mother, father, and friends, everyone calls me Nohbody” (Homer Lines 360-361). “Even as he spoke, he reeled and tumbled backward, his great head lolling to one side and sleep took him like any creature” (Lines 360-366). Odysseus and his men blind Polyphemus while sleeping which results in the giant yelling to his brothers that, “Nohbody, Nohbody’s tricked me. Nohbody’s ruined me!” and no one came to his aide (Line 443). In this example, Odysseus shows his intelligence, a trait one can infer that the Greeks admired, by lying to Polyphemus to save the lives of his men. Also, after 2

returning home to Ithaca to find many suitors begging for his wife’s hand in marriage, Odysseus disguises himself as a beggar to avoid attention. The seemingly beggar at first glance enters the home of Odysseus to witness the emotional destruction of his wife Penelope. Odysseus is disguised until the last possible moment when he eventually reveals himself after completing the task to win Penelope’s...
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