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Odysseus' Journey As An Epic Hero

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Odysseus' Journey as an Epic Hero

In the epic poem The Odyssey, the main character Odysseus displays the epic hero. An epic hero is given certain qualities. These qualities make the person (usually male) seem larger than life, he or she embodies the values from their culture, he usually goes on a journey that consist of a series of trials, has an ego, and is able to persuade people with his conversation. This description describes Odysseus exactly, but leaves out one major detail, which are his internal battles. Odysseus is very emotional, and he never tries to hide it.

When the journey began, Odysseus was very proud and overzealous; this is why he had so many struggles. Odysseus' journey first starts when he has to build his own raft, this takes a few days. Calypso sends him off with food and clothing. But when Poseidon realizes that Odysseus is traveling in the waters, he stirs up a storm that was meant to drown him. This makes it hard for Odysseus to realize if the gods are on his side. But regardless of knowing if the gods are on his side or not, he still prays to them. For example when his ship is overturned because of the storm he calls on the gods saying,

"Hear me, unwearied child of Zeus!

O listen to me now

thou so aloof

while the Earth shaker wrecked and battered me

May I find love and mercy among those people." (Homer pg.118)

There after he is rescued by a cloak that was given to him from a goddess. This leaves Odysseus confused, not knowing if he has favor with the gods or not.

Odysseus has the characteristics of an epic hero, but it is ironic that Homer shows the readers that Odysseus was an emotional person, this takes away form the epic hero personality. One reason why he disguises himself, is so that everyone that he meets will not know what he is struggling with. The only time he reveals himself is when his ego gets in the way, or when he feels that the people he explains his situation to will be able to help him. For example when King Alcinoos asked him where he was from after he saw Odysseus crying when the minstrel finished playing the Trojan horse song. Odysseus tells him where he is from, and what he has been going through in hopes that the king can help. So the King presents Odysseus with a great treasure and gives him secure passage to Ithaca.

Later in the story it is seen that Odysseus has favor with the gods. Athena begs her father Zeus to let Odysseus continue his journey home. Then she goes to Ithaca to send Telemacus on a journey to find his father. When he thinks he is not about to make it out of his situation, the gods (especially Athena) are already working to help him get back home. Athena helps him a lot, more than half of the time Odysseus doesn't even know that she has set things in his favor so that he can succeed on his journey home. A lot of Odysseus' heroic acts are enhanced by Athena interfering.

There are many times when Athena helps Odysseus fight his battles by, giving extra strength, disguising him so that people won't know who he is, and encouraging him to go on. For instance Athena disguises Odysseus with a white cloud so that no one will hinder his progress to the castle, and then disguises herself as a little girl. They work as a team to get back home. She even helps Odysseus by getting his son Telemachus to come looking for him. Odysseus is helped more by the gods than his own shipmates. They help him get into more trouble, and as the leader he is the one that gets them out of the trouble, but doing this puts him in a deeper ditch.

Another challenge that Odysseus faces is talking to his dead mothers' spirit, and finding out that he is the reason why she is dead. He asks her about his wife, son, and his position as The King. She assures him that his wife is still waiting for him, and his father and son have not allowed anybody take over his position. He tries to hug her, but her spirit went shifting through his arms. The fact that Odysseus knows that his mother is dead because he didn't come back home after the war saddens him; so he goes



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