Odysseus, the main character of The Odyssey, certainly qualifies as an epic hero. He has help from numerous characters, defeats a handful of supernatural enemies, and is known by many individuals from across the land. These three qualifications are what set apart a normal character in a story from a true epic hero.
Throughout Odysseus's long journey to his home in Ithaca, many minor characters help him in any way they can. For example, Hermes knew that Odysseus would not be able to withstand the magical powers of Circe, and so Hermes gave him the Moly plant. This plant allowed Odysseus to drink the potion that Circe had given him without turning into a pig, which in turn gave Odysseus the chance to retrieve his crew and eventually leave the island. Later on in thestory, Odysseus receives a life saving tip from Athena. She tells him that there are about one hundred suitors trying to marry his wife, and she disguises him as a beggar so that he could sneak in undetected. Another point in thestory where Athena helps Odysseus is towards the end of the giant battle between the suitors and Odysseus's crew, where she fought along side Odysseus to kill the last of the men. Three other men, Eumaeus, Philoetius, and Telemachus, stayed true to Odysseus and fought to the end of the raging battle between the suitors and themselves. Each of these loyal companions had separate roles in the fight, but helped Odysseus with the same overall purpose. Eumaeus closed the gate so that the suitors could not escape; Philoetius locked all of the women's quarters, and Telemachus, Odysseus' son, brought swords and shields for them all to fight with. Without the help of Hermes,Athena, his son, and his old friends, Odysseus would never have lived through to the end of his journey.
Further proof that Odysseus was an epic hero is the fact that almost all of the beings he had to overcome in this story were supernatural in some way. One of the most obviously supernatural characters was the Cyclops Polyphemus. His enormous size was difficult to imagine, and the extent of his strength far surpassed any man. Another character of equal if not more supernatural ability was Circe. She was an immortal witch, and she used her magic against Odysseus's men. After defeating both the Cyclops and Circe, Odysseus goes further into his journey, and has to pass the path of yet another supernatural being, Scylla. Scylla was a monster, and her body's shape and size were unlike any natural beings'. It's not rare for a character to encounter a supernatural being on their journey; however, being able to take on as many as three opponents and only losing a few men is the mark of an epic hero.
Odysseus was not only popular among his friends and family, but among the entire world, a characteristic which truly signifies anepic hero. He was the king of Ithaca, but everyone knew him as so much more. In the beginning of the story, when Odysseus is seated at the banquet among the Phaecians, he overhears stories of himself being told. Unaware that they are in the presence of the King himself, the Phaecians still talked admirably about Odysseus. He is again recognized in Book nine when Polyphemus said that he had always imagined Odysseus as a strong, giant man. This happened after Odysseus blinded the Cyclops, convincing the beast that his attacker must be none other than the great Odysseus. In a similar situation, Circe is able to identify Odysseus when he does not turn into a pig because she knew that he was smart enough to find a way around her magic. When three characters from entirely different locations know of Odysseus for reasons beyond his kingly status, it can be assumed that he is a popular fellow.
Where a normal character might overcome an obstacle, battle a few monsters, and get some help from a friend, Odysseus goes above and beyond and sets himself apart as anepic hero . Other characters consistently offer their help for Odysseus, he fights his way through many supernatural encounters, and is known by almost all as an extraordinary man. These three things considered, Odysseus will certainly go down in history as anepic hero.