The Hero's Journey in the Odyssey, a Poem by Homer

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The Odyssey, the second of Homer’s epic tales in the time of the Trojan War, tells the story of the hero Odysseus and his hard-fought, decade-long return home after ten years of fighting outside the walls of Ilion. Unlike Hercules, the supposed “ultimate” hero, Odysseus has only mortal blood in his veins. Yet the gods sponsor him because of his heroism and intelligence, the best of his era. The hero Odysseus fulfills the thesis of American scholar Joseph Campbell, the Hero’s Journey, by his superior morals, bildungsroman in the “feared cave”, and his realization that treasure is not found abroad on the fields of battle but at home in the hearth.

Odysseus has the archetypal Homeric ideals of excellence. His faith in the gods never falters, and his values of loyalty, bravery, and arrete show up time and time again in the tales of his exploits. Despite all of the challenges thrown up against him as he attempts to return home, he triumphs because of his superior morals.

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After 20 years of him being away, and his beautiful wife Penelope fending off suitors, their epic love is reunited. Odysseus faces his bildungsroman in the feared cave, fighting in the Trojan War. He emerges a different man, changed, but for the better. He leaves home despondent at having to spill more blood, a semi-pacifist at heart. Yet he returns home after all the triumphant, and a more perfect example to fulfill the Hero’s Journey could not be wrought from any but Star Wars.

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Yet he does not find the treasure, archetypal in these epic tales, abroad conquering and killing. He instead finds it when he returns home. As they say: “Home is where the hearth is”. He returns back to the Ordinary World, but changed from when he first left. There he finds reconciliation and all loose ends are tied up. The tale is complete, and he has found his treasure. He has fulfilled his destiny as a true hero, more so than any Herculean persona, and therefore completing the Hero’s Journey through his superior morals, bildungsroman, and retrieving of the lost treasure: epic love that shall echo through history, even today.

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The Hero's Journey in the Odyssey, a Poem by Homer. (2022, Jun 09). Retrieved from

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