Essay about Odysseus as a Hero in ‘The Odyssey’
Heroism by definition, is characterized as a person who possesses great bravery and selflessness. A hero is a leader, a savior, who has the respect but also the hatred of many. At times, heroes are faced with decisions that not everyone can handle or support, but a true hero knows the difference between right and wrong. Heroes are ultimately good and choose righteousness. Even though Odysseus can be extremely arrogant, it is what seems to keep him alive. Odysseus holds many admirable character traits that qualify him as a hero, as proven throughout the Odyssey.
Many times throughout the story, Odysseus is faced with challenges or fights that others cannot withstand because they are afraid. Odysseus faces these challenges head on and despite his possible fears of being overcome, he pushes through it. One of the beginning obstacles in his path back to his kingdom was something he had been warned about by the enchantress, Circe: the sirens. The sirens are deadly and use their charming voices to lure sailors to their deaths, but Odysseus had ordered his men to wear candle wax in their ears to avoid becoming trapped by their song, except for himself. “…yet she urged that I / along should listen to their song” (Homer lines 726-727). He urged his shipmates to keep him at bay as he openly listened to the sirens, even if it would be terrifying or painful. One may argue this idea was reckless since it was simply an arrogant call, but he managed to be the only man to survive the sirens.
How it works
Another significant hero trait is wisdom, and when used correctly it is a lifesaver. A hero who uses knowledge as a weapon can be almost unstoppable. For example, when faced with a giant cyclops that had just killed some of his men, Odysseus managed to outsmart the monster and get away. “when sudden fear stayed me: if I killed him / we perished there as well, for we could never / move his ponderous doorway slab aside” (Homer 293-294). The one-eyed monster was the only one strong enough to lift the heavy rock he uses as a door, and Odysseus realized this as he was about to kill him. Rather, he made a plan to be able to sneak out with his remaining crew. Odysseus tricked the cyclops into thinking his name was Nohbdy, so when he attacked him the cyclops said, “Nohbdy, Nohbdy’s tricked me. Nohbdy’s ruined me!”, making him seem insane (Homer 403). After this scene, Odysseus disguised his men by having them hide under sheep as they left the island. Odysseus’s overbearing cockiness prevailed once again because he taunted the monster as they sailed away, but he contradicted it by saving his men.
Finally, a hero is someone who is strong both mentally and physically. With everything they face, heroes must keep a strong head in order to continue leading. This includes: morals, motivation, and resilience. Odysseus bravely and wisely defeated the monsters that stood in his path because he kept going. Also in the story, Odysseus had disguised as a beggar when he reached Ithaca only to find many suitors competing for the hand of his wife. Penelope created a test to challenge the suitors, “…except your lust to marry me. Stand up then / we now declare a contest for that prize” (Homer 1114-1115). The test the queen conjured was to string and shoot Odysseus’s famous bow, which is extremely difficult for anyone besides the king himself to use. The task at hand, once completed, results in the queen. Still disguised as a beggar, the almighty Odysseus took a chance to win the opportunity and successfully did so. “Odysseus in one motion strung the bow / Then slid his right hand own the cord and plucked it” (Homer 1191-1192). Despite the other contenders jeering and picking on the “old beggar,” Odysseus soon demonstrates his incredible strength and worthiness as he effortlessly wins the contest. The test of the great bow further
In the Odyssey, readers follow a king named Odysseus as he fights to find his way home. The king journeys for ten years, and in those ten years he must survive mythical monsters who are constantly trying to kill him. Odysseus proves multiple times his remarkable strength, wisdom, and bravery as he makes his way back to Ithaca. To simply illustrate what a hero is, a hero is someone who cannot be waived. Heroes have fears that they face everyday, problems they must solve on their own, and dangers they survive. Odysseus is the king of Ithaca but also a hero because he found his way home after the countless struggles that tried to stop him. Not only did he deem himself as worthy, he learned many lessons along the way and grew on his journey.