The Hero Within. An Essay on Odyssey



The Odyssey told by Homer, is an epic poem containing numerous occurrences and situations that protagonist Odysseus encounters. After the egregious battle of Troy, Odysseus plans to return to Ithaca, but the expedition is not easy. During his journey, Homer delineates various challenges and risks that Odysseus must undergo to prove he is a hero. In the Odyssey, Odysseus is apparent as a leader and warrior, but some dispute that these qualities are unheroic. A true hero is notable among others from their noble deeds but most importantly, because they’re a savior. Odysseus possesses a few traits that make this idea true. Odysseus’s bravery and companionship make him a hero.

One important characteristic that makes Odysseus a hero are his acts of bravery. He takes on extraordinary challenges to secure a way back home for both himself and his companions. In “The Land of the Dead,” Circe, a sorceress/goddess, advises Odysseus to travel to the underworld before departing her island to assimilate his fate. The protagonist travels to the underworld to be informed by Tiresias, a blind prophet of Apollo. 

Homer asserts that “Before Odysseus departs from the island a year later, Circe informs him that in order to reach home he must journey to the land of the dead, Hades, and consult the blind prophet Tiresias” (576). For both Odysseus and his men to reach Ithaca, they must travel through forbidden and dangerous lands that rarely guarantee survival. Not only is this an insane risk, but for Odysseus to learn about his future, he must transport resources to speak to Tiresias. 

If Odysseus does not follow this protocol, it can get dangerous, especially in the land of the dead. Odysseus and his men have already been through a lot, so he still takes on the voyage by himself. As Odysseus enters the underworld alone, he not only ensures the protection of his crew but he also pursues his destiny. Odysseus’s bravery is exhibited in “The Cyclops” as well. Odysseus and his crew traveled to the mainland where these one-eyed beasts dwelled in huge caves. Odysseus knew about the savage ways of the Cyclops, and he knew that they lived in these cave-like homes.

In order to find resources, Odysseus acknowledges that the Cyclops’s cave is essential to search. Odysseus states, “We beached there, and I told the crew to stand by and keep watch over the ship: as for myself I took my twelve best fighters and went ahead” (565). Odysseus enters the cave courageously along with a dozen of his experienced warriors. Although Odysseus knew the Cyclops is a menacing beast, he is fearless to seek resources for the sake of his own and the crew's survival. Most importantly, Odysseus and his crew managed to survive throughout these dangerous and risky challenges so they could all be home in one piece which is the main objective. Odysseus is fearless when it comes to dire situations proving his heroism.

Another trait that Odysseus possesses is companionship. Odysseus values his companions very much that he risks his life for them on numerous occasions. This can be seen in “The Sirens.” As Odysseus and his men encountered the Sirens, Odysseus demanded to be strapped while his crew was safe thanks to the beeswax. The beeswax wouldn’t allow the music of the Sirens to penetrate through. If all else fails, the Sirens will lure their victim to the water, potentially drowning them. Circe had urged Odysseus to listen to the songs alone, causing the soothing sounds of the Sirens to torture him for the safeguard of his men. Odysseus said, “Therefore you are to tie me up, tight as a splint, erect along the mast, lashed to the mast, and if I shout and beg to be untied, take more turns of the rope to muffle me” (581). 

Odysseus still wants to be firmly strapped by his men, even after the musicality tortures him. This shows how Odysseus is sacrificial for his companions, understanding that their survival is a priority. Another situation where Odysseus shows compassion is in the “Lotus-Eaters.” When the Lotus flower is ingested, the individual loses him/herself as they are addicted to the drug. Aware of the dreadful poison of the Lotus flower, Odysseus ties his affected men back to the boat to prevent them from consuming more. 

Odysseus announces the detrimental factor of the Lotus flower and informs the crew of the harm: “All hands aboard; come, clear the bench and no one tastes the Lotus, or you lose your hope of home” (564). Odysseus creates an excuse to save his crew convincing them that the Lotus would forbid their return to Ithaca. This shows Odysseus's diligence and responsibility, assets that make him a good leader. As a result, Odysseus’s companionship saved his men.

Although Odysseus kills and assaults others in the process, he is still a hero. In “The Suitors,” as Odysseus returned home, he realizes his wife Penelope is in danger from a group of ominous men. The suitors never wanted to take Penelope for love but rather power. When Odysseus surprises the suitors, they begged Odysseus for mercy as they explain their innocence. Homer conveys Odysseus doesn’t fall for the ruse when he says, “Not for the whole treasure of your fathers, put up by others, would I hold my hand. There will be killing until the score is paid” (611). 

Odysseus makes the suitors pay for their hoaxes by execution. Even though he killed the group of men, he saved his kingdom and the most important people to him: his son and wife. Another example can be found in “The Cyclops.” When Odysseus and his men realized they were trapped with a one-eyed beast, a plan needed to be devised to escape. The Cyclops consumed several of Odysseus’s companions, so it was paramount that Odysseus would come up with a scheme to prevent any more catastrophes. Consequently, Odysseus decides to harm the Cyclops’s eye.

The protagonist conveys the gruesome imagery of the eye when he states, “So with our brand we bored that great eye socket while blood ran out around the red-hot bar. Eyelid and lash were seared; the pierce all hissed broiling, and the roots popped” (570). As Odysseus and his men jagged a wooden spike in the Cyclops’s eye, it was completely obliterated. Even though Odysseus assaults the Cyclops dreadfully, the scenario still shows Odysseus is a hero since his men are saved and they were all able to flee