Much like Gilgamesh’s quest for fame, of wanting his “name stamped on bricks” (70), Odysseus also demonstrates a lust for power and fame. Odysseus relates to Gilgamesh in the sense they are both self-centered, proclaimed heroes. Gilgamesh seeks Humbaba to slay him simply for the fame of it while Odysseus reveals his identity to Polyshemus simply to boast of his accomplishment. This completely backfires on him when the Cyclops throws a slab of mountain at their boat, resulting in the near death of his entire crew. Fame plays the role of motivation in Homer’s The Odyssey, and causes Odysseus to make irrational decisions throughout the epic tale.
Odysseus rejects the offer of immortality from Calypso, so he can return home alive to his wife and his city with the fame and fortune of the incredible journey. His rejection of immortality demonstrates his burning desire to acquire even more fame, because his craving for fame outweighs the universal want for immortality in Greek mythology. By returning home he gains the fame for returning from Troy because all of his fellow soldiers have been killed so he alone carries the stories and tales from the journey. He has a thirst for the spot light which ultimately drives him home, not his wife or son.
Another instance that reflects his desire for fame is when he challenges Broadsea, the young Phaeacian, to the athletic challenges at the celebration honoring Odysseus. This shows that even with an entire evening devoted to Odysseus he still feels the need to go and defeat someone in order to get more fame. This is a subtle but illuminating detail that shows that no matter what the occasion, he is going to try to achieve more fame and build up his reputation.
When Odysseus encounters Polyshemus, the son of Poseidon, his ego and quest for fame puts his crew’s life at risk. When Odysseus and the crew enter the cave because of Odysseus’s curiosity they have the perfect opportunity to escape. However, Odysseus’s...
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