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The Contrast of Odysseus as a Character Essay

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Updated: Aug 31st, 2022

Introduction

Odysseus has all the defining characteristics of a Homeric protagonist. He is strong, resourceful, and confident, which makes him a great leader. However, Odysseus has a number of flaws, including his constant desire to achieve glory combined with excessive pride that sometimes blinds him in his adventures. Book IX of The Odyssey is structured as a series of flashbacks that reveal the wanderings of Odysseus and his men. As Odysseus tells Phaeacians the tale of his battle with the Cyclops, it becomes apparent that Homer’s protagonist is smart and cunning. He possesses the ability to deceive and plan thoroughly, which adds to his charm and strength as a leader. However, Odysseus’ confrontation with Polyphemus demonstrates how arrogant and foolish The Odyssey’s hero can be.

Main body

Odysseus decides to linger in the Cyclops’ cave after stealing some of his food, which puts his men in danger. They keep telling Odysseus to leave, but he tells them he wants “to see the owner himself, in the hope that he might give me a present” (Homer). Such arrogance leads to Polyphemus eating two of Odysseus’ best men after he returns to his cave. After the monster imprisons his ‘guests’ in order to feast on them later, Odysseus comes up with an intricate plan to escape. It includes blinding Polyphemus, hiding his identity by using ‘Nobody’ as an introduction, and finally escaping the cave by clinging to the bellies of the Cyclops’ sheep. However, as soon as Odysseus and his men manage to get on their ships, the story’s protagonist rejects any sense of self-preservation and reveals his identity to the Cyclops. Polyphemus then prays to his father Poseidon to call for vengeance on Odysseus. Therefore, despite being smart and deceiving, the story’s protagonist shows how prideful and foolish his actions can be.

More about The Odyssey

Conclusion

In conclusion, it is important to acknowledge that Odysseus is a strong and clever man. He can use his smarts and leadership skills to escape dangerous situations, an example of which would be his wanderings in the land of the Cyclops. However, Odysseus rarely thinks ahead if his pride is threatened. The only reason why he refuses to hide his identity with Polyphemus is that he wants everyone to know of his great deeds. His excessive pride and desire for glory makes him an unlikeable character.

Work Cited

Homer. “Book IX.” , translated by Samuel Butler, 800 B.C.E. Classics MIT, Web.

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