Odysseus : An Epic Hero Essay

Odysseus : An Epic Hero Essay

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War and time combined together have the ability to ruin someone’s life. Odysseus, who went through war and then spent years away from his family and home still managed to survive after all the experiences he had throughout these long years. He did this simply to get home to his family in Ithaca, his journey set in ancient Greece. Heroicness, among many other things, is often evident in epic heroes, an archetype that Odysseus fits incredibly well. Odysseus’s journey is filled with Greek gods and goddesses, helping Odysseus on his way home to his son, Telemachos, and his wife, Penelopeia. In The Odyssey by Homer, Odysseus displays qualities of an epic hero, particularly through his journey, his interactions with the gods, and his hubris.
To begin, a huge aspect of The Odyssey is Odysseus’ journey. The journey of an epic hero is often long and filled with obstacles that are extremely hard to get over. One event that Odysseus has to go through is winning a quarrel with Polyphemus, the Cyclops, by getting him drunk. When he’s telling his story, Odysseus remarks, “‘Then I gave him a second draught. Three drinks I gave him; three times the fool drank…’” (Homer 107). Polyphemus is not human, and he’s strong and large. Odysseus is a small, smart man. The Cyclops is in fact the opposite of Odysseus, and together they form a foil. Because of this huge difference in both physicality and mentality, fighting Polyphemus is immensely hard. In addition to Polyphemus, Odysseus also goes through a series of tasks while engaged with Circê, a goddess who turns all of his men to pigs. These tasks include scaring Circê into turning the men back. He tells the people listening to his story, “‘I drew my sharp sword and leapt at Circê as though to kill he...


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...bers are killed by Scylla, all because Odysseus had enough faith in himself as a leader to handle the danger without telling anyone else about it. These events are just two examples of the numerous times Odysseus exhibits hubris. Though this is his hamartia and does lead to terrible things happening, a fatal flaw is an important part of the epic hero archetype. Odysseus is an epic hero partly because of his hubris.
This epic illuminates many qualities of Odysseus that prove he is an epic hero. Throughout his extensive journey, he gets through lots of obstacles thrown his way that he would not be able to do without the Greek gods at his aid. Odysseus is specifically an epic hero because of his journey itself, his relationship with the gods, and his ego. These things combined makes for a solid character that is at least a hero and definitely an epic one, at that.



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