The Odyssey

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Odysseus is hailed as one of Greece's greatest heroes for his strength. However, is it merely his brawn that he is hailed for, or is there something else? Although many often dismiss things such as intellect, courage, loyalty and determination, all of which are traits that Odysseus possesses, as being strength. Being strong in these aspects can be equally, if not more, beneficial than simply physical strength, as Odysseus has proven by overcoming sea monsters, traveling through the underworld, and so much more on his journey back to his homeland of Ithaca. Homer’s Odyssey demonstrates that strength can be much more than purely physical strength by creating characters that display mental, emotional, and other forms of strength throughout the entirety of the poem.
One of Odysseus’ key traits as a leader is his intellect and cleverness. A prime example of that intellect is when Odysseus and his men stabs Polyphemus in the eye, causing him to scream in writhing agony “Nohbdy, Nohbdy’s tricked me! Nohbdy’s ruined me!”(Homer 993). Polyphemus screams for his fellow cyclops to help him but cannot get help due to the little trick Odysseus conceives. Polyphemus is much taller, faster, and stronger than all of the men combined, meaning that the only way the men are to survive is to trick and deceive. Had Odysseus not used his mental capabilities to give Polyphemus his false name, the group may never escape the cave. When Odysseus and his crew are near approaching the dangerous singing nymphs known as the Sirens, Odysseus tells his men to “tie me up, tight as a splint, erect along the mast.” (Homer 1005) as he took beeswax and “laid it thick on their ears.”(Homer 1006). By doing so, Odysseus is the reason why is he able listen to the Siren...

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...he sacred cattle. This leads to their downfall, most of them dying from a raging storm engendered by Zeus, all because of a poor choice that hey make. These two events, along with several others, show the reader that mental and emotional weakness can have major and devastating consequences, no matter how physically adept a person may be.
Although physical strength is often useful in tricky situations, other strengths, such as mental and emotional strength, can be equally useful, as shown in Homer’s Odyssey. The recurring theme of strength other than physical strength teaches the reader to understand that having non-physical can bring great rewards, and lacking it can bring unfortunate consequences. How people utilize their mental, emotional, and other strengths can very well dictate the future of that individual, and possibly change lives, for better or for worse.

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