In The Odyssey, Homer’s exciting and exhilarating tale of the great Odysseus, the mighty hero, brave and strong, slays and conquers many terrors and great evil. The greatest evil however, is his hamartia, hubris against the gods, his arrogance. Odysseus’ pride is the worst villain of all, keeping Odysseus away from his goal. Does his hubris stop him from being a hero? A hero must be just and moral, meaning they are loyal and selfless, while also having integrity and common sense. And without his hubris, is Odysseus still a hero? Who else in the story shoes heroic qualities?
Let’s find out! One of the many ideas of being moral is loyalty, always sticking by or standing up for those you are close to. This one quality Odysseus does, sadly, not possess. His pride withstanding, the great Odysseus and his crew dock onto the Aeaean Island. Commanding his men, Odysseus demands they scout the area. The crew meets Circe, the nymph with the golden braids who welcomes them into her home. Eagerly going inside, the men naively enter her house, where she traps them and turns them into pigs. When Odysseus hears of this he wants to rescue his men.
With the help of the giant-killer Hermes, Odysseus tricks Circe by being immune to her spell. After she agrees to turn his men back, the master tactician and his crew celebrate. Odysseus spends a year with Circe and in her bed, until a crewman persuades him, “Captain, this is madness! High time that you thought of your home at last… ” (245) His life content, Odysseus sees no reason to leave, and is happy to stay there forever. Odysseus is not loyal, because of his own accord, he allows himself to go to bed with Circe, without any regard for his wife, Penelope.
Though Odysseus is often perceived as a hero ecause of his epic deeds, he is not faithful to his wife and seems to fling himself at any eligible woman who comes by. Therefore, he is not a hero in that aspect. Whereas Odysseus was off gallivanting across the sea, Penelope is holding down the fort in their house. In the poem “Penelope” by Dorothy Parker, told in Penelope’s point of view, the author shows what Penelope does vs. how she will be remembered.
“They will call him brave. (line 10) Odysseus is seen for all his great exploits, while she stayed at home, brewing her tea, snipping her thread, and “bleach[ing] the linen for [her] bed. (line 9) She does everything around the house, while also staying loyal to Odysseus while greedy suitors are vying for her affection. While Odysseus is known for his many countless escapades, Penelope is the true hero, keeping it all together and being faithful to Odysseus for twenty years, while she gets no recognition. Another heroic quality is selflessness. A hero will always save someone else, rather than themselves.
It seems Odysseus cannot fulfill this criteria as well, because of his hubris. While Odysseus, tired and scared, talks to Circe, she tells him the great anger and perils he must go through, for which he suggests an alternative plan. “.. can’ tI possibly cut and run from her and still fight Scylla off when Scylla strikes my men? “(275) Her patience thinning, the nymph with the golden braids immediately scolds him, yet still, the great Odysseus had just suggested he get the glory and run away, while his crewmates are left to suffer. He would rather save himself over everyone else.
While Odysseus is on his adventures, around his home Eumaneus, the loyal swineherd, dedicates his life to raising Odysseus’ child. A faithful on, Telemachus grew up without knowing his father, and as an adult, he pledges to find his manhood to stand up to the suitors. After his journey, Telemachus and Eumaneus reunite, with tears in their eyes. Homer compares Eumaneus seeing Telemachus to “a father, brimming with love, welcomes home his darling only son in a warm embrace-“(339) Eumaneus cared for Telemachus when no one less could, since his mother is preoccupied with the suitors, and his father was out at sea.
Also exhibiting another type of heroic loyalty, Eumaneus charges into battle against the suitors, scarifying himself for Odysseus and Eumaneus, not caring if harm comes to him, only caring for the family instead. Odysseus is not selfless, because he considers himself more valuable than anyone else, while Eumaneus is the hero, doing things without anything in return. Why don’t we keep going, shall we? In addition, another heroic trait is integrity. Coincidently, another trait Odysseus does not display. There’s starting to be a trend here. Even though you don’t need another reason for him not being a hero, he gives you even more.
In the very beginning of Homer’s novel, Odysseus begins recapping his story to the Phaecians; he hronicles his raiding of Cicone. “I sacked the city, killed the men, but as for the wives and plunder.. we shared it round so no one, not on my account, would go deprived of their fair shares of spoils. “(212) Odysseus shows no remorse for the people of Ismarus, seeing them as conquests, not as human beings. Furthermore, he groups the women with the plunder, grouping them as “spoils” and “sharing” them among the men. Later in the story, Odysseus arrives in his hometown of Ithaca; he comes disguised as a beggar.
Appearing at his home, Odysseus is welcomed happily by Eumaneus at first, even though he is a owly beggar. “Come, follow me into this place, old man, so you, at least, can eat your fill of bread and wine. “(302-303) He is generous enough to help a stranger without asking for anything in return. This is true integrity, doing something good when no one is watching, and does not want to be repaid. The last moral quality of a hero is common sense, which is well, common sense. Though this is something Odysseus does not have, over the course of the novel he changes and might turn out to be a hero after all.
When running away from the Cyclops, Odysseus and his men, he continues throwing taunts at im, even through he is throwing rocks about him and his crew. He even directly hurts himself, by revealing his true identity. “Cyclops-if any man in the face of the earth should ask you who blinded you, shamed you so- say Odysseus, raider of cities, he gouged out your eye… “(227) Odysseus again shows his hubris, wanting to take credit for his work. Odysseus does not have common sense here, when the normal reaction would be to try and make it out alive, but for Odysseus, his hubris gets the best of him.
Although overtime, Odysseus seems to evolve and learn is lesson At the end of the novel, when Odysseus is in his home disguised as a beggar, the suitors antagonize him, throwing reckless taunts about his appearance and worth. Indecisive, Odysseus wonders what to do. “… should he wheel with his staff and beat the scoundrel senseless- or hoist him by the midriff, split his skull on the rocks? He steels himself instead, his mind in full control. “(362) Odysseus is ultimately taking control of himself instead of letting his hubris take over. He finally learns his lesson, after everything he has been through.
Odysseus ight not be a hero at the beginning of the novel; he is certainly by the end. Although Odysseus is often perceived as a hero, at the beginning of The Odyssey, he is anything but. Along the way, throughout his many travels, Odyssey learns that he is not indeed, “the best thing ever,”and he should learn how to be a true hero. Across his travels, he meets people who showcase what true heroism is: being moral, meaning that you are loyal and selfless, and have integrity and common sense. After his many trials and tribulations, Odysseus learns from his mistakes, sheds his arrogant pride, and becomes what a true hero is.