Odysseus Isn’t a Hero

The Odyssey is an epic poem about a Greek warrior named Odysseus, who just finished fighting in the Trojan War. He journeys home only to find his house overtaken by suitors trying to marry his wife, and kill his son. During his journey he comes face to face with deadly creatures, and has mind-boggling experiences at sea. But after all that Odysseus has done, Im not convinced that he is a hero. He is not a hero because he exhibits a cold-hearted personality, and because Athena gave Odysseus a lot of extra help during his adventures.

The true personality of Odysseus finally comes out in The Odyssey. In the story Scylla and Charybdis, Odysseus is previously warned about Scylla, the 6-headed monster, and Charybdis, the whirlpool, and yet he decides hes not going to tell his crew about them, and sails everyone right into the path of the monsters. He even says, But as I sent them toward Scylla, I told them nothing, as they could do nothing, (pg. 885, line 883). Just because his men couldnt do anything about Scylla doesnt mean Odysseus couldnt have.

How do you like the beating that we gave you, you damned cannibal? Zeus and the gods have paid you! (pg. 873-874, lines 433-435) Odysseus shouted this to Cyclopes while he and his men were leaving the island. He was taunting poor Cyclops even though he had already escaped from the island and Cyclops could not hurt him anymore. This was such a cold-hearted thing to do to Cyclops, especially when Odysseus had his crew telling him he was being cruel, and that he should refrain from taunting Cyclops.

Odysseus seemed to make decisions and say thing to people regardless of how it affected their life or feelings. Another reason Odysseus is not a hero is because he receives so much extra help from Athena. For example, in the story The Challenge (pg. 907), Athena disguises Odysseus as an old beggar and he attempts to shoot an arrow through several small rings. In the end, he is the only one to succeed, so hes allowed to marry Penelope. Clearly, Athena helped Odysseus in this incident.

There is no way he could perform a task like that all by himself, and because of that he shouldnt be named a hero. A hero should be someone who can perform a great task by themselves. Another time Odysseus was called a hero even though he was helped by Athena was in Odysseuss Revenge (pg. 910). In this story it says, Aided by Athena, Odysseus, Telemachus, Eumaeus, and other faithful herdsman kill all the suitors, (pg. 913). In this case, obviously Odysseus was aided by Athena.

The problem is, Odysseus receives all the credit for that battle and seems to take it for granted, never thanking Athena. Like Ive said, Odysseus is not a hero. In his adventures of The Odyssey, he always seemed to lack strong heroic traits. The way he treated people and made decisions was coldhearted and he always received an immense amount of help from Athena, never allowing him to perform true heroic deeds. For the reasons stated above, Odysseus does not deserve a monument, and shouldnt be remembered as a great epic hero.

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