What Defines a Hero?

Topics: Trojan War, Homer, Odyssey Pages: 3 (1022 words) Published: April 3, 2013
What defines a hero, is it their strength, courage, accomplishment, or maybe determination? Over time the definition seems to change which is shown in Greek mythology. In the Iliad, the common factor for a hero seems to be strength to win battles and the later story; the Odyssey a hero is defined by their wit. Odysseus’ cunning intelligence was expressed by Helen saying

I couldn’t begin to tell you All that Odysseus endured and accomplished, But listen to what a hero did once In the land of Troy, where the Acheans suffered. First, he beat himself up-gave himself some nasty bruises-Then put on a cheap cloak so he looked like a slave, and in this disguise, he entered the wide streets of the enemy city. He looked like a beggar, Far from what he was back in the Greek camp, and fooled everyone when he entered Troy. I alone recognized him in his disguise and questioned him, but he cleverly put me off. It was only after I had bathed him And rubbed him down with oil and clothed him And had sworn a great oath not to tell the Trojans Who he really was until he got back to the ships, That he told me, at last, what the Achaeans planned. He killed many Trojans before he left and arrived back at camp with much to report. The other women in Troy wailed aloud, But I was glad inside, for my heart had turned Homeward, and I rued the infatuation Aphrodite gave me when she led me away From my native land, leaving my dear child, My bridal chamber, and my husband, A man who lacked nothing in wisdom or looks (Od. 4.258-283). Odysseus shows that he can persuade Helen, deceive the Trojans, and win the war becoming a hero to the Greek people.

Odysseus’s plotting began when he entered Troy in disguise; no one seemed to question him except Helen. Helen tried to ask Odysseus about his identity however because he was so quick Odysseus cleverly disregards her. Helen bathed Odysseus, revealing his identity. Helen was very intrigued by Odysseus that he was able to persuade her to keep his...

Citations: Homer. Odyssey. Translated by Stanley Lombardo. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, Inc. ,2000.
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