The Duality of Odysseus: an Odyssey of the Mind
As William Makepeace Thackeray once said, "bravery never goes out of fashion." This theme is evident both in modern day life and ancient literature. As America found out this past August, men will go to all ends to prove their masculinity. William Lawson, of Louisiana, is among the more recent examples of this. Years after leaving the Marine Corps as a grunt, without fighting experience, he masqueraded as a Marine Corps General. His deception lasted for decades before his story unraveled. Similarly, men throughout time have come up with ways of cloaking their foolishness with a deep blanket of machoism. Such is the tale of Odysseus, of Homer's Odyssey. As Book Nine of the Odyssey reveals, Odysseus' tactful nature belies the many mistakes he makes.
From the onset, Odysseus's behavior clearly shows his tactful nature. From the opening scene of Book Nine of Homer's Odyssey, Odysseus uses his cunning to win the respect and honor of the Phaiákians and their king, Alkínoös. Immediately, the reader sees how Odysseus uses charm to win over the Phaiákians: Alkínoös, king and admiration of men,/how beautiful this is, to hear a minstrel/gifted as yours: a good he might be, singing!/There is no boon in life so sweet
" Clearly, Odysseus knows he must win the favor of his hosts in order to secure their help for passage to his beloved Ithaka. Furthermore, Odysseus lathers his story with drama, thus further increasing his chances for a safe journey home. While a more modest man would have given a straight forward account of his plight, Odysseus creates drama by elaborating on his schemes to free himself of his troubles. One potent example is where Odysseus provides great detail of the sacking of Troy to Polyphêmos, yet he fails to mention in much detail why he is not home yet. Furthermore, early on in Book Nine, Odysseus makes it a point to add to his already burgeoning masculine identity: "Men hold...
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