Odyssey: An Epic Hero with a Flaw
In one of Homer 's most ancient Greek epics The Odyssey, Odysseus is clearly defined as an epic hero. Although having no superpowers like the Gods, Odysseus is portrayed as brave, loyal and having cunning intelligence throughout his journey home following the fall of Troy. During his return back to Ithaca, Odysseus is faced with many challenges which derail him from his nostos / homecoming. Yet, these obstacles are not only because of the wrath of the Gods, but also due to the consequences of Odysseus ' mortal flaws and weaknesses. Although smart and decisive, Odysseus suffers because of his excessive pride.
Stranded in a gigantic cave with Polyphemus the one-eyed Cyclops by his side, the wise Odysseus devises a very strategic plan. As they both sipped the dark wine from their ivy-wooded bowls, the Cyclops asks Odysseus for his name. By this time, the wine had already started to affect the Cyclops ' perception. Odysseus answered wittingly: "My name is No-one. No-one 's the name they have called me - my mother, my father and all the rest of my war-friends." (McCrorie 128) Displaying his God like powers, he escapes the cave by courageously blinding Polyphemus. The Cyclops lets out a maddened call for help as he moaned in pain. When the other Cyclops heard him writhing with pain, they inquired. But fooled by the intelligent Odysseus, Polyphemus responds: "My friends, No-one kills me through cunning, hardy by great strength." (McCrorie 129) Odysseus finally escapes but undermines his entire plan because of his excessive pride. As he escapes, he foolishly reveals his identity while taunting the giant by exclaiming: "If anyone bound for the death-world should come by, asking about your shameful loss of your eyesight, tell them Odysseus blinded you, looter of cities, the son of Laertes, his home on Ithaka Island". (McCrorie 132)
By boasting and revealing his identity, Odysseus shows his lack of foresight and by consequence becomes the barer of Poseidon 's wrath throughout his return to Ithaca. After defeating Polyphemus, Odysseus feels glorious because of his victory. He wants to make sure that people know that he was the one who blinded Polyphemus. But this sense of pride becomes detrimental to his goals and causes Odysseus to suffer grave consequences. One of Poseidon 's rages is seen as Odysseus sailed to Phaiakia. As he sailed on his raft, the anger of the sea becomes apparent as Poseidon the "Earth Shaker" gathers clouds, roughs the seas and gathers huge waves. The storm mounts as "a giant wave struck him down from its fearsome crest when he 'd spoken. It twirled his raft in the water and threw him far from the craft, making the steer-oar drop from his hand. The mast was cracked in the middle by frightfully shifting winds that came at it gale-force. The man went under a long time, unable to bob up swiftly from under the drive and fall of the huge wave." (McCrorie 75) The great storm totally deteriorates Odysseus ' spirit. A tired and suffering Odysseus finds himself hoping to slip away from his own death.
Throughout his journey, the Gods favored Odysseus during his trials and tribulations. Often helped and guided by Athena, our epic hero faced many complex challenges during his battle towards redemption. However, his greatly delayed and derailed return home was not only because of Poseidon who held a grudge against him for blinding his son but also due to his character flaw. His excessive pride compromised his homecoming showing Odysseus ' imperfect human side. His lack of foresight made him believe that the height of glory is achieved by spreading your name when you achieve something. But at the end, he suffers grave consequences because of his foolish actions.
McCrorie, Edward. Homer: The Odyssey. The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004.
Bibliography: McCrorie, Edward. Homer: The Odyssey. The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004.