Odysseus as an Epic Hero
In an epic poem, epic heroes exist. An epic hero, an important figure from a history or legend, has to relate to society. By having similar traits as humans, people will look up to the hero. In the epic poem, Beowulf, the epic hero, “Beowulf”, has the ability to die. Since he has this trait, he relates to the civilization and they look up to him. The “Odyssey”, another epic poem, has a hero also. Odysseus, the hero in the “Odyssey,” fits a model of an epic hero because he has the important traits of an epic hero and relates to society. His traits include the ability to feel fear, his cunning, and physically impressive traits. Odysseus fits the model of an epic hero because he feels fear. The epic hero cannot relate to society unless he has the ability to feel fear. In having something to lose, the epic hero must demonstrate courage by overcoming the source of his terror. Odysseus experiences this terror mentally and physically, he faces it, and ultimately overcomes it. As Polyphemus, the Cyclops, speaks, Odysseus and his men feel “a pressure” on their hearts, “in dread / of that deep rumble and that mighty man” (246-7). Odysseus and his men face the possibility of death when the encounter the Cyclops. Odysseus’ actions show his humanity because of his ability to feel fear mentally. He also expresses his fear physically when he raises his hands in supplication to Zeus, crying out “lifting our hands to Zeus, / powerless, looking on at this, appalled” (284-5). Because Odysseus experiences fear physically and mentally, he relates to his men, Greek society, and the reader. Like all men, Odysseus must face his fear in order to overcome it. As Homer says, “Now, by the gods, I . . . cheered my men along with battle talk / to keep their courage up: no quitting now. / . . . So with our brand we bored that great eye socket / while blood ran out around the red-hot bar” (368-83). In this case, Odysseus and his men use physical...
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