The Traits of an Epic Hero in Odyssey, a Poem by Homer

Categories: GreekHeroOdyssey

Massive, man-eating Cyclops; an angry horde of suitors trying to steal away his wife; these are just a few of the battles and hardships Odysseus had to overcome in The Epic. Odysseus was a man of strength, cunning, and courage. These traits that were so strong within his character helped him greatly along his perilous quest home after being away from his homeland, Ithaca, for twenty years. Cunning: a trait every praiseworthy hero should have, and something Odysseus did not lack.

In fact, it was the thing that helped him most during his times of trouble, one of which was when he and his crew were captured by Polyphemus, Cyclops son of the god of the sea, at the island where the Cyclops lived.

After he ate a few of Odysseus’s crew, Odysseus quickly began to devise a plan to escape the Cyclops’ lair. When the Polyphemus came back to his lair with his flock of sheep that he was tending to, Odysseus tricked him into getting drunk on wine.

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The Cyclops fell asleep, and Odysseus and his men put out his eye with a searing hot stake. Roaring in pain, the Cyclops groped around trying to find the men, but he could not locate them. He then positioned himself in front of the cave’s opening to block anyone from leaving. Odysseus, being very keen of mind, immediately spied a way of escape. He helped his men strap themselves onto the bellies of Polyphemus’ sheep. After he strapped himself onto a sheep, they rode out to safety without the Cyclops knowing where they were.

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Another one of Odysseus’s strong traits was courage. When he arrived back home from his long journey, he found that his home and property were overrun with men trying to marry his wife and acquire his fortune. Odysseus was furious. He disguised himself as a lowly beggar and went to his home to see who was still faithful to him and his wife. It took courage to spy out the place because when he was there, the suitors beat him and cursed at him. After he figured out who was with him and that his wife still loved him, he and his son Telemachus and the two men who were willing to fight with him went to confront the suitors. The suitors were a massive, burly group of men, and Odysseus only had three other men with him. But he found a way to overcome them. Bringing his cunning into play again, he devised a plan to kill off every last suitor. Odysseus also had strength that no other man could compare to, which he showed in his wife’s test of skill. His wife Penelope devised a test of strength and skill. Whoever could string Odysseus’s old hunting bow and shoot an arrow through a row of axe heads she would pronounce the winner and marry.

Although the suitors tried and tried to string the bow, none of them possessed the strength to accomplish this feat. Odysseus then stepped up to try, and using his massive strength, he strung it with ease. He shot the arrow through the axe heads, thereby winning the contest. But he was not finished yet. Turning to the suitors, he began shooting them, and with the help of Telemachus and his two faithful servants, killed all of the suitors. He reclaimed his land, his home, and his loving wife who was elated to see him again after his twenty years of absence. Even though he had much opposition keeping him from going back to life as he knew it, Odysseus found a way to triumph in the end. Though plagued with hardships, he prevailed and returned to Ithaca and his wife and son. Cunning, strength, and courage are all definitely traits that make up an epic hero, and Odysseus was an epic hero indeed.

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The Traits of an Epic Hero in Odyssey, a Poem by Homer. (2022, Sep 18). Retrieved from

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