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The Growth of Odysseus, an Epic Hero

Character analysis of the main character in the Odyssey by Homer.

James Teixeira

on 17 May 2011

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Transcript of The Growth of Odysseus, an Epic Hero

The Growth of Odysseus, an Epic Hero Initial Character In book 4, Helen describes Odysseus' disguise when he entered the city of Troy. She says, "'He covered himself in wounds and bruises, dressed himself in all rags, and entered the enemy city... I alone recognized him and began to question him, but he was too cunning for me'" (Homer 44) Odysseus began: Introduction Forces of Change Conclusion Resulting Character Odysseus is the epic hero in The Odyssey. He embarks on an extremely long journey facing many obstacles and learning many lessons.
He leaves his wife and new born baby to fight in the Trojan War.
It takes Odysseus a great deal of time to return home in which he deals with forces against him.
While gone, his estate is being taken over by greedy suitors.
He faces much sorrow longing to be home.
He faces obstacles impossible for the human ability and succeeds. In book 8 on the island of the Phaeacians, Odysseus becomes angry and challenges someone to compete against him in a sporting event, bragging of his strength (93) There are numerous instances where Odysseus shows his physical strength.
In book 5, Odysseus is released off Calypso's island.
He is put in danger when Poseidon causes the sea to become rough.
His raft breaks in half, but Odysseus keeps swimming and coming up for air.
Although struggling to stay alive, he fights the sea and uses his strength to push through (65).
Along with physical strength comes mental strength.
Due to homesickness and missing his wife, Odysseus is emotionally distraught.
He longs to be home, reuinited with his family. Cunning Boastful Strong . . . From cunning to wise Wise Odysseus became: Modest Stronger Odysseus intelligently disguised himself and no one noticed but Helen. He is cunning in this example because when she begins to question him to find out who he really is, he uses his deceitfulness to trick her and keep the secret. By openly asking for competition, this shows Odysseus' overconfidence in his ability to defeat people. He invites people to compete against him. From boasting to modest From strong to stronger On the island of the Cicones, after his victory, Odysseus stays to celebrate. This leads to a force against him and results in him fleeing with many casualties(104).
This is a consequence to him not being humble and leaving the island immediately.

After Odysseus wisely blinds and escapes Polyphemus, the giant Cyclopes he reveals his identity. “But I would not listen to them, and shouted out to him in my rage, ‘Cyclops, if anyone asks you who it was that put your eye out and spoiled your beauty, say it was the valiant warrior Odysseus son of Laertes, who lives in Ithaca’” (115).
Because of Odysseus’ boasting, Poseidon easily sought revenge on Odysseus. This example is one consequence Odysseus faces that causes him to realize he needs to be more modest. Odysseus strongly exemplifies how wise he has become toward the end of the story when he returns to his homeland of Ithaca.
Instead of rushing in, greeting Penelope, and fighting the suitors right away, he devises a wise plan.
He decides to enter his kingdom as a beggar (203).
This is an extremely wise plan because he will be able to see what he has missed since he's been gone.
He will also be able to discover the truth of who has been faithful and who hasn't.
He follows through with his plan and resists his temptation to attack the suitors.
When a stool is thrown at him, he takes the abuse (220).
When his son is being treated poorly, he stays back.
When Odysseus meets with his wife, he keeps the secret (222). As the epic commences, Odysseus truly learns his lesson for being boastful.
He learns that modesty and humbleness are polite and earn you a better reputation.
Boasting only leads to consequences.
Odysseus is modest in reference to his victory over the suitors.
He does not celebrate or brag or rejoice.
He did what had to be done to save his wife, his kingdom, and his son.
He didn't do it for the glory, but out of love for his family and his kingdom.
Odysseus truly ends the story with a different mind set. As a result of the events he took part in on his journey, Odysseus grew mentally and physically.
It is clearly evident when Odysseus gets revenge on the suitors that he is just as strong as he ever was if not more.
He still had the strength to string his bow.
"When he had taken aim he let it fly, and his arrow pierced every one of the handholes of the axes..." (270),
The murder of the suitors after a bloody battle
"Then Odysseus searched the whole court carefully over, to see if anyone had managed to hide himself and was still living, but he found them all lying in the dust and weltering in their blood" (279-280) Odysseus grows emotionally when he visits the Underworld.
Odysseus must face his biggest fear, death, as he visits the house of Hades.
While in the Underworld, he sees his friend Elpenor which saddens him deeply. "'I was very sorry for him and cried when I saw him'" (132).
Odysseus also encounters his mother, whom he was surprised to see because he had left her alive when he set out for Troy. "I had left her alive when I set out for Troy and was moved to tears when I saw her..." (133). Physically, Odysseus undergoes much physical endurance.
Dealing with Poseidon's revenge while on the ocean
Outdoing Polyphemus
These are just a few of the many examples in which Odysseus demonstrates his great strength. Homer. The Odyssey. Trans. Samuel Butler. New York, N.Y.: Amsco School Publications, Inc.,1988. Print. Works Cited by James Teixeira Mental Strength
At the beginning, Homer shows Odysseus having everything but happiness.
When he finds out he will be sailing home, he is strengthened mentally and gains hope.
By the end, he is spriitually at his peak when he is home with his family and his kingdom. The Odyssey truly shows the growth of an epic hero through a lengthy period of time.
Odysseus grows significantly in spirit and mind set.
He remains strong.
Homer initially portrays Odysseus having a poor spirit, but as time pushes forth Odysseus' faith grows.
He is tested many times
By his mother, losing all of his crew members, and the endless amount of times he seems to be lost at sea
Still, Odysseus pushes through and keeps the faith.
The famous quote, "what doesn't kill us, makes us stronger" is perfect to describe Odysseus' growth.
Everything he faces contributes to his resulting character. Odysseus is scolded by Athene when he tries to deceieve even her on his own homeland.
"Daredevil that you are, full of guile, unwearying in deceit, can you not drop your tricks and your instinctive falsehood, even now that you are in your own country again?" (166).

"...for this is no man living who is so wily." (242)
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