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Odysseus Essay

“Odysseus is too thoughtless, selfish and deceitful to be a real hero. ” How far do you agree with this view? Yes, I do agree that Odysseus was thoughtless, selfish and deceitful but these qualities were necessary for him to complete his journey and be seen as a hero on his return to Ithaca. Greek heroes like Odysseus were greater than the average man and achieved much notoriety and fame by being thoughtless, selfish and deceitful. Inevitability Odysseus, curiosity led him to make bad decisions after all he was only human and not a god.

This is important to remember because without these character flaws Odysseus would have looked to perfect to be a hero. An example of his character flaws is that of him being thoughtless when he sacked the Island of Ismarus with his men, this decision led to him losing 72 of his men and many more casualties. His actions also upset the Gods whom made his journey home even more difficult. Another incident is when he sent three of his men to search the land of the lotus eaters without thinking of their safety. His thoughtless action nearly lost him some of his crew.

His curiosity also led him to make foolish decisions like when Odysseus went to explore the island of the Cyclops and foolishly entered Polyphemus’s cave uninvited which disrespected the rules of xenia. His thoughtless decision caused the death of 6 of his loyal men. Odysseus was also keen to show off so that he could feel more important than everyone else around him, when he told the Cyclops to mention his name if asked who blinded him. Odysseus is also a deceitful and selfish hero when on the island of Aeolia the God of wind Aeolus, gave Odysseus a bag of wind to speed up his journey home.

He did not tell his crew what was in the bag, which shows he does not trust his men. This also led to them opening the bag while Odysseus was asleep to see if any valuables were inside. The consequence of this was that the ship was blown back to the island of Aeolia which further delayed their journey to Ithaca. However like all good heroes Odysseus learnt from his mistake and realised that he had to be honest to his loyal crew if he were to make it back to his home land.

Odysseus did not always think through his actions like when he stayed on the island of Ageaia with the nymph Circe for a year, only then to be reminded by his men that he should go back to his homeland. This was a very selfish act because he was unfaithful to his wife who never cheated on him during his 20 year absence in Ithaca. Another thoughtless /selfish example of him acting on impulse rather than thinking things through first is when he sent another scout party to search for inhabitants on the island of Telepylus.

As a result one of his men got eaten up by the Laestrygonians and all of the ships got destroyed except for his own. He could have saved many lives had he not been so thoughtless, selfish and deceitful. However without these character flaws he wouldn’t have been a real hero. Odysseus also had to make difficult decisions to continue his very long journey home. So as in the case of the six headed monster Scylla, he decided to sacrifice six of his men without their knowledge, in order to save the rest of his crew. This was a purely deceitful act that was forced upon him to save the majority.

All heroes may be faced with difficult decisions which sometimes are cruel and at the cost of human life. Another example of Odysseus being deceitful is when he makes up the Cretan lie, where he makes up a story about being a man from Crete. We see the Cretan lie used at various times eg with the swine heard and with Odysseus’s wife. Athene loves this quality of Odysseus. However there were occasions where he did look out for his men, and was not selfish, like when he returns to the island of Aeaea to give Elpenor a proper burial this shows he was loyal to his men.

In conclusion Odysseus is a true hero even though he was thoughtless, selfish and deceitful. However he had respect for the gods (Athene), a strong sense of duty, (will always go back for his men) showed great honour and was highly regarded by his men and peers. He was a role model for his son Telemachus who wanted to be like him. He also showed great Athleticism which was very important and highly regarded. He was very competitive and tried to be better than anyone else and insured his name lived on forever. This is a sign of a true hero.


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