Odysseus In Homer's The Odyssey

1646 Words7 Pages
In The Odyssey, Odysseus embarks on a prolonged journey home in which he endures many trials that exhibit traits the Greeks revere. Meanwhile, at home his wife Penelope resists suitors who plunder her resources and Odysseus’s wealth. This epic exemplifies qualities and characteristics, such as bravery, hospitality and cleverness, embodied by Odysseus in an environment where the Olympian gods and goddesses are intertwined in Greek life. When the Greeks value a quality in a person, they hold that person in high regard, even more if divine powers are involved, and reward accordingly. These values contribute to an understanding of Greek culture of Homer’s time because of the values’ connection to the Greek gods, the practical influence they have…show more content…
A journey begun for an honorable motive, to help his friend in the Trojan War, but prolonged due to the wrath of the gods he angers. This hero encounters people, places and creatures that put his courage to task. When Odysseus and his crew end up on an island inhabited by the Cyclops Polyphemus, the beast traps the hero and his crew inside his cave home and eats some crew members. In an effort to free his crew and himself, Odysseus,” [h]oisting high that olive stake with its stabbing point, strait into the monster’s eye they rammed it hard-[he] drove [his] weight on it from above and bored it home” (9.427-429), blinding the Cyclops and driving it mad. This beast could easily destroy Odysseus if it woke up, but Odysseus valiantly preempts that. Greeks believe Cyclopes are the much feared, powerful and monstrous children of the god Poseidon. The Greeks’ need for Poseidon to oversee their sea voyages for trade, travel and war add to the fear of challenging the Cyclopes. Even so, here is a man who boldly stands up to the monsters and proves a human capability in the realm of gods. Further on his voyage, on the island of Circe the witch, Odysseus sends a scouting party that Circe traps and turns the men into swine. Odysseus goes to rescue his comrades, with the help of Hermes, and when he confronts the witch, he, “drew [his] sharp sword sheathed at [his] hip and…show more content…
Odysseus’ ingenuity, the jurisdiction of goddess Athena who is a pillar of Greek culture, is initially noted from his sojourn against the Trojans (3.134-135) which is a significant punctuation in Greek life. This very valued mental attribute is observed when he encounters the Cyclops Polyphemus who asks Odysseus his name and the hero responds, “Nobody- that is my name” (9,410). This is very cunning because when Polyphemus is blinded and screams in pain and his fellow Cyclopes inquire, Polyphemus says Nobody hurt him, making his friends think that it was Zeus that brought the plague upon Polyphemus. Not wanting to take on the gods, the Cyclopes do not help Polyphemus and Odysseus escapes. Not having the physical power to defeat his captors, Odysseus uses cunning to get free. This confrontation of a mortal with supernatural creatures and gods, which pervade Greek belief, signifies the lofty status of intellect in Greek culture. It also shows that supernatural creatures, like humans, are at the mercy of the gods. Despite being rewarded with freedom, Odysseus further suffers Poseidon’s wrath, with Zeus’ blessings (9.617-618), of tortuous seas for his canny, hubris and bravery vanquishing Poseidon’s son Polyphemus. Odysseus bares his aptitude again when “[he] stopped the ears of [his] comrades one by one” (12.193). He does this so that

More about Odysseus In Homer's The Odyssey

Open Document