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Although Odysseus is referred to a ‘wily’ and ‘cunning’ leader, he actually makes a lot of mistakes, many of which cost him and his crew their lives. This shows he actually isn’t the leader he’s said to be. In the epic The Odyssey, by Homer, the main character, Odysseus, is the King of Ithaca who faces 10 years of hardship, sorrow, and loss, because of a single mistake he made, which angered the God of the Sea. He makes many mistakes, most of which are caused by his pride, and his old-fashioned ways and practices.
One example of Odysseus being a bad leader and making mistakes, is when he and his men go into the cave of the Cyclops. He insisted they stay, because he wanted to see what Polyphemus would give him as a guest-gift, even though he broke into the house. “From the start my comrades pressed me, pleading hard. ‘Let’s make away with the cheeses, then come back– hurry, drive the lambs and kids from the pens to out swift ship, put out to sea at once!’ But I would no give way– and how much better it would have been– not till I saw him, saw what gifts he’s give.
(9.252-258)” His men begged of him to go back to the ships with what they had, and herd some goats and sheep to the ship, so they would have food. But Odysseus relented, saying that he wanted to see what gifts that the Cyclops would give them.
The result of his stubbornness was losing six men of his crew to the Cyclops. Furthermore, when they finally escape from the Cyclop’s cavern, Odysseus, who had tricked him by using the name Nobody to whine to his friends, gave the Cyclops his real name as they sailed away, allowing the Cyclops to ask for his father, Poseidon, to give Odysseus torment. “…Come, grant that Odysseus, raider of cities, Laertes’ son who makes his home in Ithaca, never reaches home. Or if he’s fated to see his people once again and his own native country, let him come home late and come a broken man–all shipmates lost, alone in a stranger’s ship-and let him find a world of pain at home!’(9.587-595)” Here are some examples of how Odysseus is a bad leader, who makes mistakes, though there are many more examples of his mistakes in the epics. Though he makes mistakes, he is still a good leader.
Although Odysseus makes mistakes, his is a good, just, and selfless leader. An example of his leadership being good and selfless, would be when he the choice between Scylla and Charybdis. If he went on the side of Scylla, he would only lose six men, one for each of the monsters head. If he went to Charybdis’ side, he would lose all his ships, and all his men, and everyone will die. Odysseus did not tell his mean about the terrible choice he had to make, but in the end, he made a choice that was good for both him and his crew.
“But now, fearing death, all eyes fixed on Charybdis–now Scylla snatched six men from out hollow ship, the toughest, strongest hands I had, and glancing backward over the decks, searching for my crew, I could see the hands and feet already hosted, failing, high, higher, over my head, look–wailing down at me, comrades riven in agony, shrieking out my name for one last time.(12.265-270)” Another example is of Odysseus’ leadership, is with the Lotus Eaters. His men ate the lotus plants, ‘bewitching’ them into only wanting to stay on this island and eat more Lotus plants. He soon realized what was happening, and dragged his men away from the lotus plants, breaking the ‘spell’ that was on them. While these are two examples of the King saving his crew, and being a good leader, there are more.
In conclusion, Odysseus makes many mistakes, causing in the loss of all his crew, and him nearly losing his life many times.
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