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The Odyssey Poem - the Concept of a Hero

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The Concept of a Hero

The Odyssey, by Homer is an ancient Greek poem that describes a man named Odysseus traveling on a long troubled journey back to his home kingdom Ithaca, after winning the Trojan War. During the hero's twenty year absence, suitors are seeking his wife's hand in marriage thinking Odysseus was dead. Second, they try to take advantage of her hospitality which threatens Odysseus' estate because all of the supplies are being consumed by the suitors. Odysseus uses intellectual ability over strength in order to achieve victory in these following situations: First, Odysseus demonstrates his intellectual ability on the island of the Cyclops, second, proves his creative abilities when he passes the Sirens, and finally, this ability resurfaces during the battle for his kingdom.

First, Odysseus uses his intellectual prowess to overcome his problems on the island of the Cyclops. The Cyclops portrayed as fierce creatures in the Odyssey capture Odysseus and his men. In order for him and his men to escape Odysseus executes a plan which includes persuading the Cyclops to drink a lot of wine in order for the intoxicated giant to fall asleep. In this manner, Odysseus further deceives the Cyclops, Polyphemus, by telling him that his name is "Nobody"." That is what I am called by my mother and my father and by all my friends" (366-367). Finally, the men had to blind the Giant by pushing a spear into his eye. Polyphemus calls for help saying, "Nobody is blinding me." This did not make any sense to the other Cyclops on the island. Odysseus and his men clung onto sheep skins, once the animals left the cave for grazing, while the blind Cyclops was not able to see them. Using his intellectual ability Odysseus is able to confuse the giant and escape to freedom. Odysseus uses the same technique when he passes the Sirens

Second, Odysseus uses his mind over matter when he passes the sirens. A hero must know when to listen and seek good council. Odysseus does this when he seeks advice from a man named Teiresias. Following the path that Teiresias foretold Odysseus traveled past the wondrous voices of the sirens that are irresistible to any man. The author describes that men either fall over board or crash their ships by trying to get closer to the sirens once they are exposed to their irresistible, elegant voices. The leader Odysseus realizes he needs to either protect his men and himself by either plugging his ears with wax or by avoiding any accidents when hearing the sirens' voices. His loyal men use the ear wax and tie the hero to the mast of the ship. Odysseus wishes to hear the voices and orders his men to "[bind him] hand and foot standing [Odysseus] to the ship's mast" (12.178-179). Odysseus protects his crew from another life threatening situation by using his intelligence and planning ahead before they are exposed to this temptation.



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