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The Odyssey Case

Essay by   •  October 9, 2012  •  Case Study  •  603 Words (3 Pages)  •  1,240 Views

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Peter S. Beagle once said, "Great heroes need great sorrows and burdens, or half their greatness goes unnoticed." This holds true to epic heroes. Epic heroes illustrate traits and exemplify certain morals that are valued by their society, which are portrayed through their losses. Odysseus is an excellent example of an epic hero, however, he is also a human and displays many human faults throughout "The Odyssey".

Odysseus clearly meets the definition of an epic hero. He is extremely intelligent at times and contemplates his actions before fulfilling them, "I had touched the spot 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 IX 206-209). After Polyphemus falls asleep Odysseus is at the point of slaying him, however, he comes to an epiphany. He is incapable of killing the Cyclops for he is the only one capable of repositioning the boulder covering the entrance of the cave. Odysseus grasps that if he wear to kill Polyphemus his men would not be able to move the boulder, which would render them imprisoned. He halts himself from committing an illogical act-an act that any average human would of performed without logical thinking-that could of put his men's lives in danger. Odysseus, being an epic hero, also bears the trait or courage. Even under dire circumstances, Odysseus is able to place the danger aside and accomplish the goal he is attempting to achieve, "Against Eurylochus' advice, however, Odysseus rushes to save his men from the enchantress." Eurylochus informs Odysseus of Circe turning their men into swine. In an act of fear, he advices to Odysseus that they should flee the island and abandon the unfortunate men. Odysseus, having great care for his men, proceeds to Circe's residence. He leaves without any strategy as to how he is going to hinder Circe's spell. Odysseus has no concern if he were to perish in this act of courage; he merely wants to rescue his men from Circe's treacherous spell.

Odysseus does display many positive traits, but he is far from perfect. He is dreadfully arrogant which leads him to obstacles throughout his journey home to Ithaca. " 'Cyclops, if ever mortal man inquire how you were put to shame and blinded, tell him Odysseus, raider of cities, took your eye: Laertes' son, whose home's on Ithaca!' " (Homer IX 415-419). Odysseus manifests the feeling of superiority over Polythemus after escaping from his cave. He boasts to the Cyclops that a mere human has out smarted him, which results to Odysseus revealing his true name. Odysseus is extremely proud of what he has accomplished, because of this arrogance he is inept to fully thinking and analyzing the situation. He speaks without ration, which eventually leaves him cursed and losing all his men. Odysseus exposes his human vulnerability by demonstrating how an average person

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