Weaknesses of Odysseus and His Crew in the Odyssey

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Through every obstacle Odysseus and his sailors face, Odysseus shows courage and wisdom that surpasses his shipmates', but he also displays some of the same weaknesses they have. The sailors open the bag Odysseus received from Aeolus, who controls the wind, thinking that Aeolus had given him money. Instead, they release the winds and are blown off course. This act illustrates the greed of the sailors, but Odysseus also faults by his greed and arrogance on the island of the Cyclops. He wants so badly to have the honor of escaping the Cyclops that Odysseus stupidly shouts his name back to the Cyclops. As a result, the Cyclops becomes increasingly angry and almost kills them by throwing giant rocks into the sea beside them.

Again, both the crewmembers and Odysseus display a similar weakness at the island of Circe. Both suffer from overindulgence. Odysseus stays for an entire year at the island sleeping with Circe when he had a wife waiting for him back in Ithica. Similarly, one of the sailors, Elpenor, overindulges on wine and passes out on the roof. The next morning, he awakens too quickly and falls off the roof to his death.

Although Odysseus shares some weaknesses with his crew, there are times when he is more courageous and admirable than his men. For example, without his plan to use the Cyclops' club as a giant spear and to hide under the bellies of the goats and sheep they all would have died in the Cyclops' cave. Also, Odysseus volunteered to go alone the same way his first group of men had gone in search of Circe. Even though the first group of men had been turned into swine and the messenger, Eurylochus, was extremely frightened, Odysseus had the courage to go after them and try to bring them back.
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