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By sammi0609 Jun 02, 2014 731 Words
Odysseus: A Good Leader
Odysseus is the story of a Greek hero’s ten year journey home from war and the trials he and his men faced while his wife and son in Ithaca were troubled with suitors during his absence. Some question whether Odysseus was a good leader, given that it was his fault the crew was at sea for ten years. But it is not merely that one action that should consign Odysseus to the fate of being a bad leader. Other issues should be considered, issues such as determination, ruthlessness, and cunning. These factors should determine whether Odysseus was a good leader, and it is clear that he was, because he didn’t give up on his goal, he didn’t show mercy to those who betrayed him, and he used clever tactics to outsmart his enemies. Odysseus never gave up on returning to Ithaca and to his family. From the very beginning, he said, “Cyclops, if ever mortal man inquire how you were put to shame and blinded, tell him Odysseus, raider of cities, took your eye, Laertes’ son, whose home’s on Ithaca!” (p 827) That passionate outcry shows that his main goal was to get home. At that point he had broken free from the Cyclops, showing his determination to get home (especially considering he left on an animal’s belly). Odysseus, once he returned home, said, “You yellow dogs, you thought I’d never make it home from the land of Troy!” (p 871) That shows not only that he made it home despite others lacking confidence in him, it also shows that he kept his power in the process of returning to Ithaca. Once back in Ithaca, Odysseus didn’t show mercy to the men who betrayed him in his absence. Over the course of ten years, suitors tried to win his wife Penelope’s hand in marriage. Those suitors were quite unruly and difficult to deal with, causing much strife in the life of his wife and son, Telemachus. When Odysseus returned, he made short work of setting things right. “You took my house to plunder, twisted my maids to serve your beds. You dared bid for my wife while I was still alive. Comtempt was all you had for the gods who rule wide heaven, contempt for what men say of you hereafter. You last hour has come. You die in blood.” (p 871) Odysseus expected nothing less than loyalty from his people, and he dispatched those who were disloyal to him in a swift and final manner. The suitors claimed they would pay him back and then some, to which Odysseus replied, “Not for the whole treasure of your fathers, all you enjoy, lands, flocks, or any gold put up by others, would I hold my hand. There will be killing till the score is paid.” (p 871-872) That is proof that he not only didn’t tolerate betrayal, he followed through with his vengeance against his enemies. Sometimes it’s not enough to fight an enemy outright. When enemies are bigger, stronger, and faster, a good leader needs to be cunning to win. And Odysseus employed clever tactics in battle to defeat superior enemies. When Odysseus fought the Cyclops, it was his quick wit that won the battle. First Odysseus plied the Cyclops with drink, tempting him until he “saw the fuddle and flush cover over him.” (p 822) Getting the Cyclops drunk assured that the monster’s defenses would be down. He would also be less able to fight effectively. Odysseus said, “My name is Nohbdy: mother, father, and friends, everyone calls me Nohbdy.” (p 822) This was a smart tactic. Calling himself by a name that sounded like “nobody” made the Cyclops free him when he was actually calling for help. The Cyclops yelled, “Nohbdy, Nohbdy’s tricked me, Nohbdy’s ruined me!” (p 823) which made his neighboring Cyclopes think nothing was wrong. Then no one came to his aid and Odysseus was in the clear. Although Odysseus made some less-than-intelligent decisions along the way, it is evident based on his successes that he was a good leader. Despite his mistakes, his resolve, ruthlessness, and cleverness made him an excellent leader. Odysseus had many obstacles to overcome and the odds were not in has favor, yet he still came out victorious, and that’s what being a good leader is all about.

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