In Homer’s The Odyssey, all of the side characters function as foils in some extent to Odysseus. Their differences to him serve to highlight Odysseus’ true greatness and his ability to overcome and outsmart every obstacle placed before him. Odysseus is one of the most heroic and recognizable characters in all of fiction. Throughout the Odyssey, Odysseus and his crew are placed into increasingly perilous situations, and throughout all the hardships faced, Odysseus always succeeded. Odysseus is a different kind of Greek hero, however.
Achilles always seemed to need help to win his battles in life, whether it was aid from a god, his immortality, or his indestructible armor. In the end of the epic when Hector was killed by Achilles, he was still assisted in doing so with the help of Athena. Unlike Hector, who had no aid from the gods and tried his hardest in every predicament he ran into. Hector is a loving husband, father, son and brother; and he is an even stronger warrior and leader because of these things. Although Achilles is a commendable fighter, he is an undependable leader who has a temper when he does not get what he wants.
The Charater of Odysseus of Homer's Odyssey The most admired classical hero is most certainly Odysseus, the mythological Grecian subject of Homer's epic tale, The Odyssey. This legendary figure displays excessive amounts of brains and muscle, seeming almost superhuman at times. He embodies the ideals Homeric Greeks aspired to: manly valor, loyalty, piety, and intelligence. The popularity of Odysseus transcends time. To this day he remains greatly admired as both a hero and an ordinary man who must deal with great adventures and retrieving the life he once had.
His bravery and strength helped him to victory, and he made sure it was well known. By doing so, he showed his vanity. However, all of his attributes; strength, courage, self-assurance, and love of adventure helped Beowulf for good. As Beowulf aged, he began to realize what really mattered and the insignificance of gaining recognition for his achievements was. He learned the accomplishments that truly deserved praise and recognition would receive it.
Not only does he have these traits, but he is able to understand what is right for the whole group. He makes sacrifices that may be saddening and cause a loss, but help in the long run. But most memorable is the amount of cunning and wit he showed throughout the story, a reminder of all the epic things he did.
Usually unglamorous, many wallow in self-pity which only worsens their state of mind. Anti-heros rarely succeed at any goal set before them. Summed up in two words - failed heros. T. S. Elliot's “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” is a fantastic example of the modern anti-hero. A glimpse into the stream of consciousness of Prufrock reveals his secret struggles to handle a world he has no control over.
Unlike the usual tragic hero, Achilles is able to change, reverse his downfall, and actually prove himself as a true hero. The first requirement of Aristotle's tragic hero is that they are more admirable than the average character. Achilles meets this requirement because of his ability on the battlefield. In The Iliad, the background to the story is the war between the Greeks and the Trojans. This background is not only the basis for the story overall, but is also the basis for Achilles' own story.
His obstacles in the past seemingly led him to become almost selfish, fending only for himself. Through Odysseus’ odyssey, his character grew and became more complex as time passed. In The Odyssey, obstacles and experiences help to track the change Odysseus’ character. In the beginning, he started as a young, naive, unexperienced man. Through battle, confrontation, and hardship, Odysseus became a fantastic leader, an experienced man.
In The Iliad, Hector proves himself to be the hero by showing his immense bravery, strength, devotion and courage. The Iliad is filled with combat, dishonesty, arrogance, and fidelity. Through which Hector has revealed himself to be the hero on multiple occasions. Although Hector and Achilles share several of the same flaws, Hector has been able to demonstrate he is the more heroic of the two. Achilles exposes himself as blood thirsty, proud and headstrong.
Beowulf and his boastful nature ultimately lead him to be great in life and to later fall. Finally, the two epic heroes both share some of the same good and bad qualities, thus, making each one slight mirror images of one another. According to Webster's, an epic hero is “a larger than life figure from a history or legend, usually favored by or even partially descended from deities, but aligned more closely with mortal figures in popular portrayals”. The hero participates in a cyclical journey or quest, faces adversaries that try to defeat him in his journey, gathers allies along his journey, and returns home significantly transformed by his journey. The epic hero illustrates traits, performs deeds, and exemplifies certain morals that are valued by the society from which the epic originates.