Moral Value of the Odyssey

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Updated: Mar 28, 2022
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In Homer’s The Odyssey, the author discusses what occurred to the hero Odysseus’ after the war and what occurred during his expedition home to Ithaca. Throughout his journey, Odysseus’ and his crew battled many of life’s temptations in order to gain forgiveness from the Gods. Even so, the author uses Odysseus’ and his crew as an example of how human flaw can lead even heroes down the wrong path. Two major human flaws that caused their mistakes throughout their journey are inattentiveness– failing to attend to the comfort or wishes of others, or not paying attention to something, and impulsivity– a tendency to act on a whim, displaying behavior characterized by little or no forethought.

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Despite Odysseus’ and his crew’s heroic behavior throughout their journey to Ithaca, it doesn’t change how Odysseus’ impulsivity and his crew’s inattentiveness led to it becoming almost impossible for them to return home. Impulsivity is one of the major human flaws that Odysseus’ exhibited throughout his journey to return home.

When he and his crew finally escaped the Cyclops, Odysseus’ began to taunt him about the fact that he is blind and can no longer catch him. His crew warned Odysseus’ of the dangers that could unfold but he ignored them and continued saying “Cyclope, if ever mortal man inquire how you were put to shame and blinded, tell him Odysseus, raider of cities, took your eye: Lactres son, whose home’s on Ithaca!”(Homer 9. 970-974). This depicted how Odysseus’ ego got the better of him and made him unconsciously reveal where he lived without thinking of the consequences it would have on him or his crew. In the end, the God Poseidon cursed Odysseus’ for blinding his son by creating dangerous sea storms that made it impossible for them to travel by sea. Even though Odysseus’ flaws had some fault in him not returning home sooner, the crew’s inattentiveness was at fault as well.

The Crew also displayed the human flaw of inattentiveness when they ignored Odysseus’ warnings. When they reached the island of the Sun God, Odysseus had remembered Circe’s warning about not eating the cattle of the Sun God. He warned them to“…. swear me now a mighty oath, one and all, to the intent that if we light on a herd of kine or a great flock of sheep, none in the evil folly of his heart may slay any sheep or ox; but in quiet eat ye the meat which the deathless Circe gave” (12. 184). This quote demonstrated how Odysseus’ believed in Circe’s warning and wanted to respect the Gods while also protecting his crew. Despite the crew having been warned there would be consequences to their actions, the men ate the cattle and suffered the wrath of Zeus with their lives, leaving Odysseus as the sole survivor. The human flaw of inattentiveness was not only exhibited by Odysseus’ crew but it was also seen with Odysseus’.

After leaving the Island of the Wind God, Odysseus’ received an airbag as a gift which contained all the storm winds in order for them to travel smoothly. Having not slept for many days, Odysseus’ fell asleep leaving the airbag unattended and “……. the suspicious and curious sailors open the bag (thinking it contains treasure) and the evil winds roar up into hurricanes to plague the luckiest Odysseus again”(book 10). This revealed how Odysseus’ inattentiveness and lack of trust in his crew led to their route being redirected and them losing their chance to return. Overall, both Odysseus’ and his crew’s inattentiveness play a major role in the obstacles that they had to face during their journey home.

In the end, it was their impulsivity and their inattentive that ultimately led to the crew’s demise, leaving Odysseus’ as the sole survivor. If Odysseus’ has not let his ego get control of him, he would have never revealed his real identity and Poseidon would have never made it impossible for him to get home. In the case of the crew, if they had not let their hunger get the best of them and if they listened to their captain’s warning, they would not have suffered the wrath of Zeus and lose their lives in the process. Human flaw plays an important role in humans lives; the main key is to learn from one’s mistakes and fix them for future reference.

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Moral Value of The Odyssey. (2021, May 29). Retrieved from