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Evolution of Odysseus

A fast rundown of Odysseus' growth in "The Odyssey"
by

Charles Loe

on 5 March 2015

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Transcript of Evolution of Odysseus

The Evolution of
Odysseus

What You Need to Know
1. Odysseus was smart: both in intelligence (book) and strategy (war hero).
2. Like most intelligent men, Odysseus' primary motivation was more knowledge (seeker).
3. This, and women, were Odysseus' primary character flaw.
4. The conflict, however, begins with Odysseus' hubris.
H U B R I S
Definition: exaggerated pride or self-confidence
Due to his success in the Trojan War, Odysseus does not
believe he needs the assistance of the Gods.
The only God he even half honors, at the beginning, is Athena, his home Goddess, and attribute guide (intelligence/strategy).
When "The Odyssey" begins, all other parties leaving for home, after the Trojan War, honor Zeus (travelers), Poseidon (water), and their various home Gods.
All except Odysseus. He gives a lamb to sacrifice for Athena and none else.
Due to his disrespect, and hubris, Poseidon petitions
Zeus to "interfere" with Odysseus' journey.
Level 1: Lotus
On the Lotus Eaters island, Odysseus continues his ways of hubris, by going after the men himself. He does not pray for guidance, even from Athena.
At this point, Odysseus is angered with the Gods, whom he blames for the disastrous journey.
Is he right to?
Were the Gods justified in "interfering?"
Was Poseidon trying to better him?
Was Zeus? Was Athena?
Level 2: Cyclops
On the island opposite the Cyclope's island, Odysseus tells his men that it is his Goddess, Athena, that beckons him to explore the other island.
He then evokes Zeus by stating that they (Cyclopes) were beholden to offer hospitality to them, as they were travelers.
He shows growth while he was captured in the Cyclop's cave. He invokes Athena for a way to escape and save his men.
Do you think his invoking of Athena, thus showing growth, helped him devise the plan to escape?
Do you think his taunting of the Cyclops afterwards belittles this growth?
Since it was the injuring of Polyphemus the Cyclops, Poseidon's son, that angered Poseidon, and drove the God of Water to try and kill Odysseus and his men, do you think Odysseus could be considered brave or courageous?
Crossroads
Level 3: Circe
On Circe's island, the men had to stop for supplies.
The search for food led to the discovery of Circe.
Once he learns that his men had been captured, and this time it wasn't his fault, Odysseus ignores Hermes'
warning and attempts a rescue.
Does his ignoring of Hermes' warning count as
Hubris?
Does this show a growth of character?
Level 4: Land of the Dead
At the request of his dead soldier, Odysseus agrees to give the man an official funeral.
He also listens to his mother's spirit, and begins to give respect to the other Gods.
Does the funeral show growth? Explain.
Does the adherence to his mother's spirit show growth? Explain.
Crossroads 2
Given the dislike and fighting between the other Gods and Hades, does the intrusion into the Underworld and journey through and back, show hubris or disrespect to the Gods as a collective? Remember, it was Circe, not the other Gods that told Odysseus to go.
Level 5: The Dangers of the Sea
Odysseus is warned, by Circe, about the Sirens, Scylla and Charibdis, and the Sun God, Helios', cattle.
Odysseus plugs his men's ears with wax, but, because of his inquisitive nature, Odysseus roped himself to the mast to hear their song.
With Scylla and Charibdis, Odysseus chose to sacrifice 6 of his men, instead of risking all of their lives.
After his men eat the Sun God's cattle, while he was asleep, Odysseus prays for Zeus' favor (he doesn't get it though).
Level 6: Home
Odysseus prays for assistance/guidance from the Gods on how to deal with the suitors at home.
Zeus not only allows Odysseus to exact
revenge (kill them), but he grants
Athena to fight with him.
Final Crossroads
Does Odysseus, sharing his name and story with Alcinous, demonstrate that he has learned his lesson?
Does Poseidon's overreaction to Polyphemus help or hinder Odysseus' growth?
Explain both your answers in short answer format.
Full transcript