Top-Rated Free Essay

Character Analysis of Odysseus

Good Essays
Character Analysis: Odysseus
Smart, yet Arrogant

In books 9-12 of Homer’s The Odyssey, Odysseus shows three prominent character traits: quick-wittedness, hubris, and self control. Odysseus has gone down in stories and history books for his life-saving quick-wittedness. An example of his quick thinking is in the scene where Odysseus and a few of his men are trapped in Polyphemus’, a cyclopes, cave and Odysseus devises a cunning plan to help them escape. He gives Polyphemus all the liquor he has to get him drunk and tells Polyphemus that his name is Nohbdy so when Odysseus stabs his eye out and Polyphemus calls for help, he ends up saying “Nohbdy, Nohbdy’s tricked me, Nohbdy’s ruined me!” (9.44). Therefore, his fellow cyclopes go home thinking that Polyphemus is just crazy. Another part of his escape plan from the same scene that displays his wits is when, the next morning, Odysseus and his men put ram pelts on their backs and walk out with all of the other rams. This works because, since Polyphemus cannot see anymore, he feels each ram go by instead and Odysseus can sneak by, undetected. A second noticeable characteristic of Odysseus is his hubris, or arrogance. For instance, after he has escaped from Polyphemus’ cannibalistic nature he goes on to yell back to the cyclopes that “if ever mortal man inquire how you were put to shame and blinded, tell him Odysseus, raider of cities, took your eye: Laërtês son, whose home’s on Ithika,” which put not only Odysseus in danger of the cyclopes retaliating, but also his crew (9.549-552). Another example of Odysseus’ hubris is when he insists on being the only one of his crew to listen to the sirens’ irresistible voices so he can boast to people in the future that he has been the one of the only mortals to ever resist the magnificent melodies of the sirens. At times when he is not busy being arrogant, Odysseus is showing self control, such as at the beginning of his trials in book 9 when Odysseus and his men raid a coastal village of Ismaros. They have killed and enslaved plenty of men and women when Odysseus shows self control and decides that it is time for them to leave before the real army comes. Unfortunately, Odysseus’ men do not have the self control he does and they continue to plunder the village, giving a few fugitives enough time to alert the main army, which ends up killing many of Odysseus’ men. Another example of Odysseus’ self control is on the island of the Lotos Eaters when he resists the enticing thought of being content staying on this wonderful island and remembers he is needed at his home on Ithika. A third instance when Odysseus shows self control is after making it through three difficult trials, the sirens, Skylla, and Kharybdis, he and his men are extremely tired and famished. Yet, when they pass Helios’ island, which holds ample cattle, Odysseus tells his men that they cannot hunt on this island because he has been warned by Kirke and Teiresias that their fate shall not be good if they do. Unfortunately, his crew, yet again, does not listen and they kill some of Helios’ cattle. And, just like Odysseus told them it would be, they had consequences.

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • Satisfactory Essays

    Odysseus: A Tragic Hero

    • 364 Words
    • 2 Pages

    All heroes have a certain attribute or character that made them stand out from the rest of the crowd or society. Some are very strong, some are very smart, some are very rich that they can afford to create gadgets to make them do unnatural things, like Batman and Iron Man. Odysseus is no different from the common heroes we hear today. The most heroic attribute of Odysseus was that he was smart. He was also courageous as well as confident.…

    • 364 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Satisfactory Essays
  • Good Essays

    Odysseus Epic Hero

    • 691 Words
    • 3 Pages

    This is close to his only concrete character flaw, yet it easily overshadows any of his other traits. As CliffsNotes says, “He is confident that he represents virtue even when a modern audience might not be so sure” (Character Analysis Odysseus). His prideful arrogance follows him throughout the entire epic, yet it is most blatantly exhibited after he and his men’s escape from the Cyclopes’ cave. As if Odysseus simply can’t resist taking credit for his defeat of the monster, he declares, “Odysseus, raider of cities, took your eye; / Laertes’ son, whose home’s on Ithaca!” (Homer 9.18-19). This was a rather unintelligent move, as he able to escape by cleverly tricking the Cyclops by saying his name was Nohbdy, and he only threw his disguise away because he wanted to be famed and known for defeating the monster. Odysseus’ pride is one of his most noticeable shortcomings, and similarly, one of his most…

    • 691 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Odysseus has the standard qualities that make him a hero; strength, bravery, courage, nobility. He is also the embodiment of the standards and morals of his culture. But his most redeeming quality is his intellect. He proves time and time again that not only is he smart but also extremely clever. He shows this not only by openly evaluating situations but also by outwitting his opponents, such as the Cyclops. He uses this to his advantage, to overcome the obstacles preventing him from returning home. He also uses it in ways, such as lying, stealing and cheating,…

    • 479 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    One quality that separates Odysseus from the many other heroes of his time is the ability to be clever and cunning. Odysseus shows…

    • 949 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Truthful, loyal, born leaders, and honesty. These are all the characteristics of a real life hero. Odysseus has features almost similar to real life heroes. Real life heroes save lives and help people which is exactly what Odysseus did. Odysseus represents a strong hero because he was a great leader, he had a smart mind, and he was very brave.…

    • 470 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Odysseus played both the hero and villain role in The Odyssey; it all depends on whose perspective you see him through. Penelope saw her husband as a hero who fought hard to get back home to her. To Polyphemus, Odysseus was a villain who tricked him and blinded him. During the Trojan War he expressed an enormous amount of hero traits, but later in his journey, especially in books 9-12 his heroic behavior diminished.…

    • 571 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Odysseus: An Epic Hero

    • 619 Words
    • 3 Pages

    Odysseus, man of exceptional wit, bravery, and intelligence, epic hero The Odyssey written by Homer, is nothing short of extraordinary. He fearlessly leads his remaining men home to Ithaca, doing everything in his power to get them back alive and well. While this is undoubtedly a noble deed, Odysseus slips up more than he does any good, therefore making it unfit to call him a hero. A hero is someone who is compassionate, selfless, and wise. He is selfish, disloyal, hypocritical and harsh; everything a hero is not. Odysseus may be an epic hero, but he is far from a true one.…

    • 619 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    The main character of Homer's Odyssey, Odysseus, is a cunning man. The Odyssey is a tale of Odysseus' long and trying journey home after fighting in the Trojan War. On his way home, he upsets Poseidon, god of the sea, by blinding Poseidon's son. In retaliation, Poseidon strives to make Odysseus' sail home to his kingdom as hard as it can be. During this odyssey, Odysseus' encounters many enemies and must use his cunning to keep himself and his men alive.…

    • 594 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    In book 9 when Odysseus impales a burning wooden staff into Polyphemus’ eye then informs the raging cyclops that his name is nobody is an ideal instance in which directly exemplifies Odysseus’ intelligence significantly benefitting him where using his somatic fortitude would not. Before stabbing Polyphemus in the eye, Odysseus gets him drunk first to ensure he would not have enough coordination to attempt to kill him and his remaining crew members. The triumphant plan of intoxicating Polyphemus before impaling him so that his coordination will be disoriented rather than actually fighting him portrays why Odysseus is often times looked at as an respectable character. In attempt to get the cyclops tipsy, Odysseus says, “Three bowls I brimmed and three he drank to the last drop” (9.405). Then, Polyphemus asks Odysseus…

    • 406 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Odysseus ensures his security and protects his identity while deceiving Polyphemus, thus displaying his true cleverness. Odysseus tells Polyphemus that “Nobody is his name,” (9,365) he uses this clever deception so the other Cyclopes do not go after him after he escapes. Also, if Polyphemos knew who Odysseus really was then Polyphemos would've treated him differently. Odysseus wouldn't had received the hospitality that he did. By being his witty self, Polyphemos stated “I will eat you last” because he liked his cleverness which was actually his decievence. Odysseus is in sense a nobody, no one cared if he was king of Ithaca. This was his lowest point as he started to lie more in order to reconstruct his identity.…

    • 744 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    The Demonstration of Wit in The Odyssey In Greek literature, many writers include an epic hero, with many heroic qualities. In the epic poem, The Odyssey by Homer, Homer portrays a captain named Odysseus, who needs to use his wit to get himself and his men home to Ithaca by ship. Odysseus and his men face different obstacles that require Odysseus’s great strength in mind, so that they may pass through safely. Although Odysseus faces several hardships, it is Odysseus’s wit and aptitude, not his physical strength, which is instrumental in his eventual success. Because of this Wit Odysseus will live on long after death and the cleverness with which Odysseus deals with the Cyclops helps Odysseus survive so he can eventually return to his homeland.…

    • 415 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Odysseus: Hero or Villain

    • 663 Words
    • 3 Pages

    blinded, tell him/ Odysseus, raider of cities, took your eye:’”(pg. 160, ln 548-550), but later he yells “‘…

    • 663 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Odysseus's arrogance later reverses into his best quality, his confidence. Without his confidence Odysseus would…

    • 606 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Better Essays

    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.…

    • 1449 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Better Essays
  • Good Essays

    Odysseus was a man who was known for both his good and bad leadership qualities. Homer, the blind poet and the author of ‘the Odysseus’ has portrayed Odysseus as an ambiguous character. However, in my opinion and in this argument Odysseus have more good leadership qualities than bad leadership qualities. Throughout this epic, readers can see that Odysseus made many leadership decisions and took actions when it should be made. He was intelligent, fair and fearless. Many incidents in Homer’s epic, points out his intelligence, fairness and fearlessness throughout their journey.…

    • 637 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays