Odysseus, of Homer’s Odyssey, is an appropriate hero and ruler of Ithaca. He does not act irrationally but contemplates his actions and their implications. Odysseus is an appropriate hero because he embodies the values of bravery, intelligence, astuteness, and competency. Odysseus is an appropriate ruler for Ithaca by virtue of his hereditary right to kingship as well as his diplomatic skills, familiarity with his male subjects, discipline, and his impartiality and compassion. However, he is a character that does make a foolish decision. There is a rare instance when his pride supersedes his intellectual ability.
Odysseus is an appropriate hero for he embodies the values of bravery, intelligence, astuteness, and competency. While he trying to return home from Ilium, numerous suitors attempt to seduce his wife, Penelope. However, when he returns Odysseus cleverly plans and carries out the demise of the evil and wasteful suitors with the help of Athena, goddess of wisdom: “Come on [Athena] weave me a plan to punish them [the suitors].” Odysseus’ wisdom is admired by Athena, the goddess of that aptness. Athena is also impressed by his battle heroics and so she endeavors to provide him with succor: “And you didn’t know Pallas Athenaia the daughter of Zeus himself, your faithful stand-by and guardian in all your labours!” With Athena’s assistance Odysseus becomes a true hero.
Odysseus is the epitome of honor and virtue for his Ithacan subjects. Odysseus’ kind and stalwart leadership is revealed by Eumaios, his faithful swineherd, and Philoitios, his loyal cowherd, who have both remained loyal to him for twenty years. Eumaios praises Odysseus as “A rare fine master.” “Indeed I do not mourn so much for them as for him [Odysseus], though I long to see ’em again and my native land, but I do miss Odysseus since he went away. I don’t like to speak his name, man, although he is absent, but I call him ‘his honour,’ even when he is far away.”
Odysseus is a befitting king because it is his ancestral right, for he is familiar with his male subjects and understands their desires. Odysseus’ equity and mercy is displayed after his triumph over the suitors, whom he executed because of their lawless behavior. However, Odysseus shows compassion by allowing Phemius, the minstrel suitor, and Medon, a herald suitor to live. “Cheer up, my son has saved your life. So you shall know, and tell other men, that doing well is far better than doing ill.” Odysseus’ proper sovereignty is expressed by his justice.
Odysseus displays his shrewdness as he overcomes the challenges that beset his crew. When Odysseus and his men become trapped by Polyphemos on the island of the Cyclops, Odysseus cleverly tells Polyphemos that his name is ‘Noman.’ Thus, when Polyphemos is stabbed in the eye by Odysseus and his men, he renounces assistance from his friends by stating that “Noman is killing me,” leading his companions to believe that no man has hurt him. However, once Odysseus and his men reach their ships and set sail, he performs his most foolish act.
Odysseus taunts Polyphemos by declaring, “if ever any one asks who put out you ugly eye, tell him your blinder was Odysseus, the conqueror if Troy, the son of Laertes, whose address is Ithaca!” Once Polyphemos obtains this critical information on his blinder’s identity, he implores his father Poseidon, god of the sea, to “grant that Odysseus the conqueror if Troy- the son of Laertes- whose address is Ithaca, may never reach his home!” Because Odysseus’ pride would not allow him to let his ingenious action go unrecognized, he dooms himself and his crew.
Odysseus’ wisdom and courage enable him to be a brave hero and a strong ruler, both traits of superiority in his society. Being mortal binds him to occasional mistakes that he compensates for by becoming wiser and stronger. His extraordinary abilities are heralded by the gods. Upon his return to Ithaca, Odysseus ingeniously kills the rude and wasteful suitors and reclaims his title of king. In reconciliation and honor, he finally makes a sacrifice to Poseidon. Odysseus is the epitome of a hero of his culture.