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Max Plotkin English Nov.

14, 2013

Is Odysseus a hero?

Odysseus is one of the greatest heroes in Greek mythology. His desire to return home keeps him moving forward even when faced with impossible obstacles. Intelligence and bravery enable him to overcome his challenges. Even when Odysseus finds himself alone or with few allies, he is able to prevail. Considering the epic journey Odysseus has to take to reach home and regain his throne, only a true hero would prevail. Odysseuss qualities of perseverance, bravery and self-reliance make him a hero. A hero is tenacious. Odysseus spent ten years fighting in the Trojan War and then spent the next ten years trying to return home to Ithaca. His course for home was set and it never wavered despite the many obstacles he faced. I wish yes, every day long- to travel home and see my day of coming. And if again one of the gods shall wreck me on the wine-dark sea, I will be patient still, bearing within my breast a heart well-tried with trouble; for in times past much have I borne and much have toiled, in waves and war. (p. 49) Along the way, he loses his crew, becomes imprisoned on Ogygia with Calypso and is continually sabotaged by the gods. When all is lost, Odysseus stays so determined to get back to his home Ithaca and to his wife Penelope that nothing, not even gods can stop him. Odysseus is blessed with balanced qualities of a hero: bravery and cunning. When Odysseus finds himself and his men trapped in Polyphemuss cave he has to

temper his impulse for aggression with thought. Odysseus forms a plan to kill the Cyclops yet second thoughts restrained me, for there we too had met with utter ruin for we could never with our hands have pushed from the lofty door the enormous stone which he had set against it. (p. 85) He and his men blind the Cyclops. This debilitates the enemy and enables Odysseus to use the Cyclopss strength to move the bolder that blocks their escape. So many a plot and scheme I framed, as for my life; great danger was at hand. Then to my mind this seemed the wisest way. (p. 87). Odysseus planned to escape from the cave by binding himself and his men to the underside of Polyphemuss sheep, which are let out to graze each day. The blind Polyphemus is unable to find or feel the men escaping. Odysseuss heroic ability to combine his bravery and intelligence saves him and his men. A hero can lose everything and still be heroic. When Odysseus finally returns to Ithaca his situation has changed. His life lacks it former luxury. He stays with a swine herder, dresses as a beggar, and is unrecognized by his people. Yet he is able to prevail, kill Penelopes suitors who outnumbered him10:1. It is not luck that saves him, it is his wit and strength. He attacks the suitors by surprise and lets none escape his wrath. It is not the weapons or armor that makes a hero, it is their passion for what they believe in and their ability to do what is right. Odysseus is a legend of a hero. The sheer length of his journey is epic. He is distinguished from other heroes by his simple human desire for home. Homer created a hero who is both superhuman during challenges yet common in his desires. Odysseuss adventures conclude where it all began, at a heros home.