What would it take to make Odysseus, the renowned warrior and the pride of all Greece, cry uncontrollably? Surely, he must be put through some sort of extreme physical pain that no other mortal could survive or perhaps he is even forced to watch the horrendous slaughtering of his comrades. But more often than not, it is only mere words and memories, driven on by self-pity, not atrocities committed against his crew, that make Odysseus cry. Instead of acting as a compassionate leader who grieves for his lost friends, Odysseus cries to indulge his own sense of sorrow at his problems, and uses this to gain attention from others. By examining Odysseus' outbreaks of grief, it becomes obvious that his selfishness and pride are at the very heart of the obstacles he has faced on his journey home.
Odysseus cries to satisfy his feelings of loneliness and despair at being so hated by the Gods. When we first encounter Odysseus, he is sitting alone on Calypso's island, "weeping, his eyes never dry, his sweet life flowing away / with the tears he wept for his foiled journey home" (5. 168-169). At this point, Odysseus has been a prisoner on Calypso's island for seven years, and has an understandably forlorn outlook regarding his journey home. However, Odysseus spends every night on the island acting as a lover to the beautiful goddess, whom he even admits is far more lovely and tempting than the wife he yearns to return to. Though he pines for Penelope, his acts of constant infidelity show that his guilt is not plagued by his actions. He is described as being an "unwilling lover" (5. 172), but there is no evidence to suggest that Odysseus feels he is committing a crime against his wife. Instead, Odysseus is described as being "no longer pleased" (5. 170) by Calypso, which suggests that at one point Odysseus may have been very satisfied with his situation, until he became homesick again. It is an admirable trait that Odysseus so longs