A Discussion of Whether Odysseus is a Hero
Some say Odysseus was a legend, but was he a hero? I believe he is a hero because, he is brave and intelligent, and he is a natural leader of men. He also gets help from gods such as Athena and Aeolus. Some also would say he wasn’t a hero because he had an “affair” with Calypso and delayed his journey by staying on her island.
One thing is that he is very brave and intelligent. He showed it when he had to figure a way to get out of the Cyclops’s lair, “My heart beat high now at the chance of action, and drawing the sharp sword from my hip I went to along his flank to stab him where the midriff holds the liver. I had touched the spot when sudden fear stayed me: if I killed him we perished as well, for we could never move his ponderous doorway slab aside” (Homer, 143-149). This shows that Odysseus was smart enough to know that they couldn’t have gotten out alive if they killed him.
Another instance was when they injured the Cyclops and blinded him and escaped under his sheep. “The Cyclops’s rams were handsome, fat, with heavy fleeces, a dark violet. I tied them silently together, twining cords of willow from the ogre’s bed; then slung a man under each middle one to ride there safely, shielded left and right” (Homer 285-288). Odysseus saw this as a way to escape, since the Cyclops was blind and blocked the entrance; he used his hands to search for people trying to escape. But when they hid under the sheep the Cyclops only felt the ram’s wool against his hand. In all this clearly states how Odysseus was very intelligent.
Another trait of an EPIC hero is that, the hero is a natural leader of men. Odysseus guides his men or leads them through many trials. Without Odysseus there to lead them, there would be no way his men would survive on their own. For example on the Lotus Eaters part, Odysseus handled the situation, “I drove them, all three wailing, to the ships, tied them down under their rowing benches and called to the rest: ‘All hands aboard; come, clear the beach and no one taste the Lotus, or you will lose your hope of home”” (Homer 50-54). If Odysseus hadn’t warned them, they may never reach their homeland but instead stay on the land of the Lotus Eaters forever.
Another example of him taking charge and leading his men was when he was trying to encourage his men to not be scared of Scylla and Charybdis, “Well I walked up and down from bow to stern, trying to put heart into them, standing over every oarsman, saying gently, ‘Friends have we never been in danger before this? More fearsome, is it now, then the Cyclops penned us in his cave? What power he had” (Homer 153-156). Odysseus knew that if one oarsman was afraid or stopped rowing, then others may join in and stop as well. He boosted their spirits by stating that the danger they faced was nothing compared to the Cyclops. Odysseus knew what to say to keep his men on task of rowing.
Another characteristic of an EPIC hero is that they get help from a supernatural being or in this case, gods. The first sign of this was when Aeolus agreed to help them by capturing the wild winds and only allowing the west winds to stay which were the winds heading towards Ithaca, “Finally, Aeolus sends Odysseus off, with the west wind blowing the ships toward Ithaca and a great bag holding all the unfavorable, stormy winds” (Fitzgerald 176).
Aeolus agrees to help him to get back at Poseidon who controlled the seas but now the wind. Some say that Odysseus wasn’t a hero because he stayed on Calypso’s island for more than 7 years, “During seven of Odysseus’ ten years on the Mediterranean Sea, he is held captive by the sorceress Calypso” (Fitzgerald 156). This is only because he would have no other way of escaping unless he slept with her, so it was all to get back to his homeland, Ithaca. “Odysseus finally persuades Calypso to let him go, and she helps him build a raft to leave her island” (Homer 176). Even though there are some accusations stating that he isn’t, there are many more supporting that, yes, indeed .
In conclusion, if to answer the question, “Is Odysseus an EPIC hero?” I say yes because, he is very intelligent, he gets gods to aid him on his journey, and last, he’s a natural leader of men. Odysseus proves himself an EPIC hero through many trials and tasks that the gods throw at him. Now for the final question, do you believe Odysseus is an Epic hero?