The Trials of Odysseus
Much of modern literature and beliefs can be found in The Odyssey. The epic stands as the basis for the adventure genre. Heroes, mystery, action, and bloodshed can all be found in Homer’s timeless classic. However, The Odyssey also contains one major concept that is a part of everyone’s life. Everyone must at one time or another prove themselves. And that is the foundation of Odysseus’ story. He, a warrior meant to die on the battleground at Troy, survived to set sail back to his home of Ithaca. For this the gods had him prove himself. Throughout The Odyssey it is constantly shown that in order for one to earn his right to live, he must first prove himself in the battle of life where his only weapons are his intellect, his sense of trust, and the strength of pure determination.
Throughout The Odyssey, often times Odysseus is forced to call upon his intellect rather than his warrior instinct in order to pass another godly test. At one point in The Odyssey, Odysseus and his comrades are taken prisoner in the titanic cave of Polyphemus the Cyclops. A colossal boulder keeps Odysseus and his men from escaping. Rather than slaying the formidable adversary, Odysseus devises a plan more of a scholar than a relentless warrior. This becomes known as Odysseus recounts his story to the Phaecians, telling them that, “ ‘I [Odysseus] formed the plan within my daring heart of closing on him [Polyphemus the Cyclops], drawing my sharp sword from my thigh, and stabbing him… Yet second thoughts restrained me… for we could never with our hands have pushed from the lofty door the enormous stone which he had set against it’ ” (85). Odysseus’ strong intelligence outweighs those of his warrior comrades, who would have been quick to slay the giant. Had Odysseus sent the Cyclops to Hades, he and his men would surely have followed. However, this was not to be, as Odysseus does not let the warrior in him direct his actions as a leader.
Throughout his adventures, Odysseus must also rely on his intellect to rid of those who restrain him from reaching Ithaca. On the island of Ogygia, Odysseus is kept a reluctant guest at the halls of the goddess-nymph Calypso. Odysseus, who sees that he cannot escape by means of battle, turns to flattery.