The Odyssey: Is Odysseus Really a Hero?

Topics: Odyssey, Odysseus, Poseidon Pages: 3 (881 words) Published: May 8, 2013
Odysseus can be portrayed as an antihero in The Odyssey. A hero is clever, respectful, brave, and shows mercy. Odysseus is the complete opposite of a hero. He is immature, barbaric, unfaithful, and a coward.

Being faithful, or loyal, is one of the main aspects of being a hero. Book V shows us that Odysseus might not have been so faithful to Penelope: “Now as he spoke the sun set, dusk drew on/ and they retired, this pair, to the inner cave/ to revel and rest softly, side by side” (5. 234-236) This quote describes Odysseus with Kalypso, before he left her cave to return to Ithaka. “Resting softly, side by side” might mean more than what Homer is giving us.

Odysseus is also very immature and childish. After tricking the Kyklops, Polyphemos, his men run for the ships. Odysseus is so proud of himself; he dares to shout back at the Kyklops: “Kyklops/ if ever mortal man inquire/ how you were put to shame and blinded, tell him/ Odysseus, raider of cities, took your eye:/ Laertes’ son, whose home’s on Ithaka!”(9. 548-552) His rant made the Kyklops angry and he prayed to his father, Poseidon, to kill Odysseus. Poseidon then destroyed Odysseus’ ship, killing everyone on board but him. His immature behavior cost him his crew and his time.

Odysseus is also a coward. Instead of fighting Polyphemos, he ran away to his ship. He should have fought the monster and showed his men how brave he was, but he ran: “The blind thing in his doubled fury broke/ a hilltop in his hands and heaved it after us./ Ahead of our black prow it struck and sank/ whelmed in a spuming geyser, a giant wave/ that washed the ship stern foremost back to shore./ I got the longest boathook out and stood/ fending us off, with furious nods to all to put their backs into a racing stroke-/ row, row, or perish. So the long oars bent/ kicking the foam sternward, making head/ until we drew away, and twice as far.”(9. 524-534) Odysseus and his men could have killed that one Kyklops. Instead, the scared leader...
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