Odysseus the central hero in The Odyssey

An epic hero is the central hero of an epic, a long, narrative poem about the deeds of gods or heroes.  He possesses qualities superior to those of most men, yet remains recognizably human.  These heroes have a tragic flaw.  This is what makes them a hero instead of a god. Gods are perfect.  Odysseus is the hero in The Odyssey, an epic attributed to Homer.  His tragic flaw is hubris, occasional occurrences of excessive, overbearing pride.  Odysseus is considered a hero because he is a skilled warrior, and a leader of outstanding wisdom, resourcefulness, courage, and endurance.  Odysseus’ actions during three events that take place in The Odyssey show his better traits.  The encounters with the Lotus-Eaters, the Cyclops, and Scylla and Charybdis all demonstrate his heroism.

Odysseus’ brilliance is shown upon his ships arrival on the coastline of the Lotus-Eaters.  Instead of letting his entire crew off of the ship to explore this mysterious area, Odysseus only allowed two picked men and a runner to learn who lived on the land.  After some time, none of the three cared to report, nor to return to the boat.  This was because they ate the Lotus plant, which was a drug that the Lotus-Eaters offered to the men.  It caused them to lose all desire to reach home again. Singlehandedly, Odysseus forced all three men back, tied them down under the rowing benches, and ordered the crew to row away.  In this incident, his strength and care for his men is shown.

Odysseus’ encounter with the Cyclops demonstrated his resourcefulness and courage.  After Odysseus and his twelve best men first talked to the Cyclops, two men were devoured by this beast just because he was hungry.  This may have shaken up his remaining men, but Odysseus wouldn’t let his crew turn and run.  Instead, he devised a plan to get what they had wanted, the  Cyclops’ rams, which were fat with heavy fleeces.  The plan included making the Cyclops drunk, blinding him by driving a pointed six foot pole through his lone eye, and hiding beneath the rams to avoid any confrontations with the Cyclopes.  The encounter with the Cyclops was another test of Odysseus’ heroism.  Once again, he came out on top and proved that he was a hero.

The encounter with Scylla and Charybdis was Odysseus’ biggest challenge to that point.  Scylla was a sea monster of gray rock with six heads, and Charybdis was an enormous and dangerous whirlpool.  Unfortunately, to reach the destination that they had to stop at, they were forced to sail directly between these two severe hazards.  Odysseus was left with a huge decision.  Should he sail closer to Scylla or Charybdis?  He chose to come closer to Scylla, and this showed how he could make major decisions under great pressure with reasons for the decision.  If they had gone near Charybdis, all of them would most likely drown.  Since they were going towards Scylla, it was almost sure that six men would be snagged by the monster, but this would be better than everyone dying.  Odysseus chose not to tell his crew of this risk though.  He did this for the welfare of everyone believe it or not.  If he had told them, they all would have gone and hid under the deck, leaving the ship to be sucked in by the whirlpool.  This would be worthless, so Odysseus did what he had to do as leader.  Even though this was deceitful, he only lost six men compared to everyone.  This event show many of his heroic qualities, such as bravery, intelligence, and leadership.

All of these events obviously show what made Odysseus an epic hero.  Some of the characteristics that make up an epic hero are great fighting skills, intelligence, bravery, strength, and resourcefulness.  Odysseus has shown all of these qualities, and was able to avoid the wrath of the Gods because he was a hero.  He refused to back down to anyone.  Odysseus kept on fighting for twenty straight years just to make it back home, and he succeeded in doing this.  Coming out of everything he had been through alive, alone, makes him a hero.


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