Telemachus: the True Hero of the Odyssey

Topics: Odysseus, Odyssey, Penelope Pages: 6 (2192 words) Published: October 20, 2008
In The Odyssey, the reader is easily able to distinguish that Odysseus is a hero in the story. He is a god-like figure. Odysseus’s wife, Penelope, is a hero and seen by many readers as such especially females. Both possess characteristics of heroes and they deserve to be considered such but that does not mean that they are the true hero of the story. Their son Telemachus is the true hero in The Odyssey. The reader should be able to identify with him the most and realize everything that has happened in his life and he deals with it with extreme heroism. He handles the situation in his life the way every human being should.

Majority of my classmates will argue that either Odysseus or Penelope is the true hero of the story. Most of the men in my class will argue that Odysseus has all the characteristics of what a true hero. Odysseus is the stereotypical hero. He is the man that every man wants to be and the man every woman wants to be with. He has conquered every enemy, beast and monster that he has faced during his lifetime. He is stronger than all other men. The soul of Amphimedon revels to the readers “No one of us was able to stretch out the string Of the mighty bow, for we were too weak by. But when the great bow came into Odysseus’s hands… Then godly Odysseus, who had endured much, took it in his hands, Easily strung the bow and shot through the iron.” (Homer 257) Odysseus was stronger than any of the best men the world could offer. All of the suitors that tried to persuade Penelope to marry them were unable to use the bow and only the mighty Odysseus was able to do it. They would argue that there is nothing that Odysseus has not done or could not do. He is the definition of a hero, he is not only exceptional at everything he does, he is the best at everything he does.

I would be wasting your time if I even attempted to argue that Odysseus is not a hero. There is a difference between a hero and a true hero. The true hero is a role model to other human beings and Odysseus does not fit into that category. He commits adultery numerous times. A man that cheats on his wife as often as Odysseus should not be considered a true hero. Odysseus returns home to Ithaca by himself which make one wonder what happened to the rest of the men that started out of the voyage with. How could you call Odysseus a true hero when he only saves his own life? He did go off to war and fight for his country but that was what he had to do. Did Odysseus have to kill all the suitors? The suitors did not deserve death for their actions and are the readers to believe that the suitors would not have listened to Odysseus if he told them to leave. The suitors were only there because they wanted to marry Penelope and take Odysseus throne. That became impossible when Odysseus returned. Odysseus was a great man and a god like figure but he lacked the morals and the true qualities to even be an exceptional man let alone a true hero. Odysseus and his superior skills compared to Telemachus would have been unable to handle the situations and problems that Telemachus has to deal with.

Most of the ladies in my class will state that Penelope is the true hero in the play. She does everything in her power to prevent other men from seizing her husband’s throne. She uses her mind to outsmart the suitors who want to marry her. She stays loyal to her husband for more than twenty years. Penelope has just as many chances to cheat on Odysseus as Odysseus has to cheat on her but she choose to do the noble, heroic and thing and remains faithful. She does things that would not be expected from a woman in those times. They would say that because Penelope had to deal with the fact that her husband was gone for twenty years and she had to raise her son alone. Penelope had to keep many men astray for many years to prevent one of them from grasping Odysseus throne. She ruled as a king without the official power and recognition of the king.

It is obvious that Penelope is...

Cited: Bayne, Christina. “Heroes.” Unpublished Manuscript, March 26, 2007.
Dickey, William. “Telemachus” Retellings, Clarke, M.B. and A.G. Clarke. McGraw Hill. New York, NY. 2004. 265-267
Gluck, Louise. “Telemachus Fantasy” Retellings, Clarke, M.B. and A.G. Clarke. McGraw Hill. New York, NY. 2004. 267-268
Hanabergh, Ken. “The Heroes of The Odyssey.” Unpublished Manuscript, March 26, 2007.
Homer. “The Odyssey” Retellings, Clarke, M.B. and A.G. Clarke. McGraw Hill. New York, NY. 2004. 256-257
Howard, Richard. “Ithaca: The Palace at Four a.m” Retellings, Clarke, M.B. and A.G. Clarke. McGraw Hill. New York, NY. 2004. 261-263
Pastan, Linda. “Rereading The Odyssey in Middle Age” Retellings, Clarke, M.B. and A.G. Clarke. McGraw Hill. New York, NY. 2004. 264
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