Why do we consider Odysseus to be a hero? Was he all bullets and bravado like the “heroes” of today? Was he a testosterone and power armor kind of hero we see in video games? No, but he was heroic nonetheless. His loyalty, valor, humanity and most importantly, his intelligence, sets him apart from many other heroes from his era and from ours. He exemplifies the most important ideals of Homeric Greeks and is portrayed not only as a proud adventurer, but also as a caring father and a husband.
Loyalty is one of the most important of Homeric Ideals. Odysseus has always been seen as loyal to his family in Ithica and the men who he travelled with. Some examples of his loyalty towards his family are his journey itself, traversing stormy seas and vicious locals to see his family again. His outstanding loyalty kept him going for twenty years until he was finally reunited with his beloved family. He also never lost sight of his goal to return home, even during his stays with the two sultry goddesses Circe and Calypso. His stay with Circe can be seen as unfaithfulness to Penelope; however, it was necessary to free his men from their pig-form enchantment.
Outstanding valor is a very common trait among heroes from all time periods and Odysseus is no exception. He faced the most fearsome creatures such as Cyclopes, Scylla and Charibdys. He even blinded Polythemus, son of Poseidon. While he may have wept for his fallen men during these encounters, his courage never once faltered, and drove him to surpass these obstacles no matter how terrifying. And his journey to Hades chilled his men to the bone, but Odysseus never gave into fear. Beowulf also had valor to spare. His horrors might even have been greater then those encountered by Odysseus. Both had watched their kinsmen slaughtered before their eyes, both have slain monsters, but Beowulf always killed his prey alone. It takes far more courage to face an inhuman opponent without your comrades to aid you.
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