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Essay/Term paper: Odysseus: a hero

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Essays

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Odysseus: A Hero

Heroism was not an invention of the Greeks. Yet, through the first hundreds
years of their civilization, the Greek literature has already given birth to
highly polished and complex long epics that revolved around heroes. These
literature works gave many possibilities of definition of heroism. The Greeks
illustrated heroism to obey the rules laid down by the gods and goddesses, and
those who obey the rules would gain honor and fame. The Greeks regarded
intelligence as one of the highest gifts that all heroes must posses. The
Greeks required that all heroes must have courage. Odysseus, one of the heroes
of the epic "Odyssey" standout. He was constantly expected to be a true hero,
always obey the rules laid down by the immortals, posses wisdom and courage.

The Greeks believed that all heroes must always obey the Guest/Host relationship
rule-- which all guests must treat the hosts with courtesy, and the host must
treat the guests properly-- laid down by the gods and goddesses. Those who did
not obey the rule would be punished severely. Odysseus throughout the epic,
demonstrated that he obeyed the Guest/Host relationship rule. Odysseus always
following the Guest/Host relationship rule, a characteristic that all heroes
must have according to the Greeks' tradition . All heroes must followed the
rule because if they did not, they would be punished by the immortals, and would
not be recognized as heroes. When Odysseus reach the land of the Cyclops race.
Odysseus decided to pick his best men, goods offered as gifts, and headed toward
a Cyclops's cave. When his men saw cheese, pens, and lamb on lying on the racks,
they pleading to Odysseus, "Why not take these cheeses, get them stowed, come
back, throw all the pens, and make a run for it? We'll drive thekids and lambs
aboard. We say put out again on good salt water!" Odysseus dismissed the
suggestion, "I wished to see the cave man, and what he had to offer." Odysseus
dismissed the suggestion of his men, and choose to wait to greet the Cyclops
with the gifts as in the custom of the Guest/Host relationship rule. Those
actions and sayings showed that Odysseus was always following Guest/Host
relationship rule, an example for his men to look up to. Odysseus's actions
spoke for his character. He posses the characteristic that meets the criteria
of always obeying the rules laid down by the immortal as defined in the Greek's
tradition of all true heroes.

The Greeks believed that intelligence was one of the highest gifts that all
heroes must posses Intelligence was so important to the character of all heroes
because intelligence would be used in novel situations where cunning would most
needed. Odysseus posses intelligence as expected in the Greeks' tradition of
heroes. Odysseus displayed intelligence when he went to the goddess Circe to
rescue his men who were turned into swine by the goddess Circe. The goddess
spoke to him, "Put up your weapon in the sheath. We two shall mingle and make
love upon our bed. So mutual trust may come of play and love." He was asked to
go to bed with a beautiful goddess, and yet he responded, "Circe, am I a boy,
that you should make me soft and doting now? Here in this house you turned my
men to swine; now it is I myself you hold, enticing into your chamber; to your
dangerous bed, to take my manhood when you have me stripped. I mount no bed of
loved with you upon it. Or swear to me first a great oath, if I do, you will
work no more enchantment to my harm.' She swore at once, outright, as I demanded,
and after she had sworn, and bound herself, I entered Circe's flawless bed of
love." Odysseus was asked by the goddess Circe to make love with her in order
to build trust between her and Odysseus. However, Odysseus realized that the
goddess wanted to go to bed with him, not to build trust, and as a result,
Odysseus used his cunning to ask Circe to make a deal in which Circe had to
swear to reverse her spell on his men in trade for him to make love with her "as
to build trust". The goddess accepted the deal because both sides would get
what they want—Circe would go to bed with Odysseus, the goddess would reverse
her spell on Odysseus men. Odysseus's intelligence enable him to save his men.
His actions showed the quality of a hero who posses the most important trait
according to the Greek tradition—intelligence.

The Greek required that courage was a trait that all hero need. Courage was
defined in the Greek tradition as to conquer fear or despair in order to save
oneself or others. Courage was vital to the characteristic of all heroes
because there would be inevitable situations where courage would be needed.
Odysseus posses courage through out the journey home. When he asked Circe about
what lay ahead in his journey home, Circe replied "There lay are a pair of
cliffs. One of them with its jagged peak reaches up to the spreading sky,
wreathed in dark cloud that never parts. Halfway up the clip is a murky cave,
facing north-west to Erebus, and doubtless it is past this, Odysseus, that you
and your men will steer your vessel. A strong man's arrow shot from a ship
below not reach the recesses of that cave. Inside lives Scylla, yelping
hideously; her voice is no deeper that a young puppy's, but she herself is a
fearsome monster. God or man, no one could look on her in joy. Her legs—and
there are twelve—are like great tentacles, unjointed, and upon her serpent necks
are borne six heads like nightmares of ferocity, with triple serried of rows of
fangs and deep gullets of black death. No seaman ever, in any vessel can clam
to have passed her without loss or grief; she takes, from every ship, one man
for every gullet." Odysseus asked her again, "Only instruct me, goddess, if you
will, how if possible, can I fight off Scylla when she raids my crew?" After
Circe told him how horrible Scylla was, and that no ship of mortal men had ever
passed Scylla unharmed, and yet Odysseus asked how to fight Scylla. Odysseus
asked how to fight the monster that no one have passes it without loss and
grief because this monster would bring death to his men. Odysseus wanted to
save his men from horrible deaths and asked how to fight this monster. He
showed courage. Those actions fit the criteria of a hero who posed unyielding
courage as defined in the Greed tradition of heroism.

Throughout the epic, Odysseus was a hero. He had indeed pre-eminent qualities
and much that were beyond the capacity of normal men. It was when problems
come that these heroic traits emerged. When his men asked Odysseus to steal the
goods from the Cyclops, which break the rule of Guest/Host relationship, he
refused. He showed that he always obey the rules laid down by the immortals.
When his men were turned into swine by the goddess Circe, he made Circe swore to
reversed her action in trade for him to make love to her. He showed cunning.
When Circe told him about Scylla and her unforgiving power, he asked how to
fight Scylla to help his men avoid horrible deaths. He showed courage. We know
him less from what he thought, which was seldom revealed, than by what he says
and did, and his actions follow naturally from his characteristics. If the
cunning of Odysseus is mentioned more than his courage , it was his courage that
gets him into the scrapes from which his cunning had to deliver him. Odysseus
had the all the qualities that the Greek tradition required of all heroes, which
were obey the rules of gods, posses intelligence, and displayed courage. He
was a hero.


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