Odysseus As An Archtypal Hero Essay, Research Paper
The Hero in Homer?s The Odyssey was Odysseus. Odysseus went through many hardships. He proved himself as an archetypal hero through his great wit, wisdom, courage, and ability to resist temptation that was unmatched by other Greek heroes.
Odysseus was a very witty person. He outwitted nearly everyone he met. One instance was when Odysseus stabbed out Polyphemus? eye. He used the false name of ?Nobody? to escape attack from the other Cyclopes. ?O my friends, it?s Nobody?s treachery, no violence, that is doing me to death.(150)? The other Cyclopes thought that Polyphemus was sick, not attacked by Odysseus. That was extremely witty. There were many times when Odysseus? wit was displayed. He was always ?quick to the gun? at making up false stories. When Odysseus first arrived back to the island of Ithaca he told the goddess Athena (disguised as a young shepherd) a false story about his past with only seconds of thought. When Odysseus arrived at Eumaeus? hut he must not reveal himself, so he also tells Eumaeus a false story. He told him about a place where he wasn?t really from. ?I am native of the broad lands of Crete…(221)? He told him of adventures he never really traveled. ?On the fifth day we reached the great River of Egypt…For nine days we drifted, and on the tenth night, in pitch darkness, a great roller washed me up on the coast of Tesprotia, where my lord Pheidon, King of the Thesprotians, gave me free hospitality…(223)” He told very elaborate stories to this man. It took a great mind to think of a story as complex as this in such a short amount of time. When Odysseus was about to attack the Suitors, he asked some swineherds to assist him in the attack. He did it in a way that expressed a great deal of wit on his part. ?If it came to fighting for Odysseus, what line would you men take-supposing he were to blow in from somewhere, suddenly, just like that? Would you be on the Suitors? side or his? Tell me where your feelings lie.(321)? If Odysseus would have asked them straight out and told them who he was it could have made him run into big problems Whereas he used his surpassing wit to ensure his well being. There was no other Greek hero that could do this as well as Odysseus. Odysseus excelled.
Another thing Odysseus was supreme at was his ability to resist temptation. He resisted to tell Eumaeus that he had returned. He was in his hut staying with him. Eumaeus was talking about how much he wanted Odysseus to come back.
…Yes, sir, even though he is not here, I hesitate to use his name. He loved me and took thought for me beyond all others. And so, though he is far away, I still think of him as my beloved lord. (219)
He went on and on about it. Odysseus did, however, wait until the right time to reveal himself to Eumaeus. Despite how badly he must have wanted to reveal himself, he didn?t. Another time he resisted temptation was when he was tempted to end the life of a beggar. ?Odysseus considered carefully whether he should hit to kill outright or lay him flat with a gentler punch. (278)? He refrained. Yet another situation that required resistance. Many times, Odysseus was faced with the temptation of attacking or eradicating one of the Suitors, but he chose to wait. The Suitors continuously attacked him verbally and physically. ?…Antinous threw a stool at his back and hit him on the right shoulder. (272)? Odysseus constantly took this abuse, but he just stood fast and took it like a man. He never retaliated until it was time. Other heroes, especially Hercules, would have hit their breaking point and killed anybody who attacked them. Not Odysseus; Odysseus was a step above the other heroes.
Another one of Odysseus? hero qualities was wisdom. Odysseus showed his wisdom many times. When he would arrive at various islands and other strange foreign lands, he would only send a few people on an exploration mission. He did not want to lose his crew all at once. This was repetitively a wise thing to do for Odysseus. Several times he lost crew members or had horrendous things happen to them on those inglorious expeditions..
…We followed your orders…My men gave out a shout to attract her attention. In a moment she came out, opened the polished doors, and invited us in. Not knowing better, my men followed her into the house in a body. But I stayed where I was, for I thought it might be a trap. And now the whole party have vanished. Not a single man showed up…(162)
If something like this happened to the entirety of Odysseus? crew, his odyssey would have been cut short very quick. It was very wise of him to send only a few explorers. Another example of his wisdom was his failure to inform his crew about Charybdis and Scylla. If he would have informed them of the destruction power of these forces, his crew would have never followed his orders to proceed. Scylla was a truly terrible creature. ?She has twelve feet, all dangling in the air, and six long necks, each ending in a grisly head with triple rows of teeth, set thick and close, and a darkly menacing head.(191)? His crew would have never continued if they knew a horrible monster was on the way. It was wise of Odysseus just to stay quiet about it. It was also wise on Odysseus? part to keep quiet about his return to Ithaca. If he would have revealed himself it would have created certain death from the Suitors. They were already planning to kill his son, Telemachus. ?…Telemachus, I say, must not escape us, but here and now we must think of some way of destroying him…(255)? If they were planning to kill his son they would have certainly killed him. It was wise to keep quiet. Odysseus truly proved his wisdom. Few, if any, other heroes could even compare to his wisdom.
Another quality that many heroes possessed was courage. Odysseus was not an exception. Odysseus was extremely courageous. One thing that showed his courageousness was his escape from Polyphemus. Odysseus? great idea was to ride underneath the sheep to escape Polyphemus. Another time of great courage was when he went to get his crew back from the goddess Circe. The goddess Circe was known for her magic. She often turned many people into animals. ?Prowling about the place were mountain wolves and lions, actually the drugged victims of Circe?s magic, for they not only refrained from attacking my men, but rose on their hind legs to caress them…(161)? With the threat of being turned into a wild animal, it took true courage to attend to his shipmates. Odysseus? biggest showcase of courage was when he fought off all the Suitors that greatly outnumbered him. It was four against many. Despite the fact that he had divine intervention, it still took a great man to do something like that. Many heroes had great courage, but Odysseus topped them all.
Odysseus had many great characteristics. Modern society lives by the same characteristics. The characteristic of Odysseus that speaks most to a modern audience is his courage. This characteristic is still needed greatly in the present day, as well as in the past. Through Odysseus? courage, wit, wisdom, and ability to resist temptation he has shown that he can surpass other heroes. He has proclaimed himself to be the best.