Odysseus A Different Type of Hero
The Homeric epic, the Odyssey, is set in the peaceful years following the Trojan War, and concerns the returning heroes on their journeys home, in particular Odysseus of Ithaca. Odysseus is an epic hero; he displays courage, superior strength, and leadership, all qualities that people admire. While displaying these archetypal heroic traits he also displays his weaknesses as a man, particularly his excessive pride, which actually make him easy to relate to. So by demonstrating his strengths, and overcoming his weaknesses he becomes an epic hero, not only in Homer's time but in the 21st century as well. Yet these archetypal heroic qualities are not his only heroic qualities, in order to win his battles and find his way home he needed to display other qualities such as cunning, shrewdness, and ingenuity. The early part of The Odyssey concerns Telemakhos and his journey. In Sparta at the court of Menelaos and Helen, Telemakhos learns of the bravery of his father; "
and how he fought through hardship for my sake" (Homer IV 176-177). More importantly Telemakhos is given an insight into the ingenuity of his father from both Helen and Menelaos. Helen describes how Odysseus: "He had, first, given himself an outrageous beating and thrown some rags on" (Homer IV 257-258) in order to get inside the city so that he might see the defenses of the city. Once inside the city walls, disguised as a beggar, he was able to merge in with the people of Troy completely unnoticed. Helen recognized him, questioned him, but with his cunning: "How shrewdly he put me off!" (Homer IV 265). Helen then goes on to recount how Odysseus; "
sworded many Trojans through the body on his way out" (Homer IV 272-273), again demonstrating his courage and strength. Menelaos tells Telemakhos of the Trojan horse, Odysseus's supremely cunning plan of how to enter Troy and defeat the Trojans: "In my life I have met, in many countries, foresight and wit in many first rate...
Cited: Homer. "The Odyssey." Trans. Robert Fitzgerald. The Norton Anthology of World
Literature, Volume A. Eds. Sarah Lawall & Maynard Mack. New York, NY: W. W.
Norton & Company, Inc., 2002. Book IV, 176-77, 257-258, 265, 272-273, 283
-285. Book VI, 150-157. Book IX 316-318, 383, 426. Book XIII 342-348. Book
XVI 291-292, 303-306.
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