Odysseus is an Epic Hero

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People are heroes in different ways for different reasons. American soldiers are heroes because they fight boldly for their country. Corrie Ten Boom is also a hero because she took risks and saved hundreds of Jews. Abraham Lincoln is another example of a hero because he fought for what he thought was right and helped free all slaves. Similarly, Odysseus, the main character in Homer’s epic poem The Odyssey, possesses all of these characteristics and many more, making him a true epic hero. First of all, Odysseus is brave and courageous, giving him the initiative to fulfill his goals. One example is when Odysseus confronts Skylla. Odysseus purposely “made [his] way along to the foredeck—thinking to see her first from there” (Homer 217). If he was scared, he would have hidden underneath the deck. But instead, Odysseus goes out to face the beast. Odysseus knows that Skylla is immortal and cannot die, yet he is brave enough to confront her. Next, Odysseus fights the suitors, who are courting Penelope in his palace. The suitors greatly outnumber Odysseus, but Odysseus still chooses to fight even though the odds are against him and he is able to win. He stands up against those who do wrong. Having the courage to fight, Odysseus defeats the suitors and fulfills his goal of regaining his palace. If Odysseus was a coward and did not fight, then the suitors would have eventually won Penelope, resulting in Odysseus losing his palace and his wife. Many people have bravery and courage, but not many use it, as Odysseus does, to achieve their purpose. Secondly, Odysseus has great self-control, which allows him to deeply contemplate his decisions. Moments before Odysseus falls asleep, he spots a “covey of women laughing as they [slip] out…to the suitors’ beds” (Homer 375). Seeing this, Odysseus is angered and wants to kill every one of the suitors right then and there. But Odysseus retains his self-control and does not strike yet. At that moment, if he did strike, he would have lost because he would not have been prepared. He retains all his anger for the final battle with the suitors. In that battle, Odysseus is fully prepared and ready to fight, resulting in all the suitors’ deaths. Next, when Antinoos throws a footstool at Odysseus, “Odysseus only [shakes] his head, containing thoughts of bloody work” (Homer 326).

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