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What does the Odyssey tell us about what it means to be a hero?

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Introduction

What does the Odyssey tell us about what it means to be a hero? The Iliadic view of what it is to be a hero is winning honour through combat and in a competitive situation. A hero would be someone who has great fighting skill and would have to risk death to have honour. The Iliadic view is challenged in the Odyssey by brining in different characteristics of what it means to be a hero. In the Odyssey, mere fighting skill does not necessarily mean that one is a hero. In Odysseus for example, we see a man who is very shrewd and cunning. A man whose skills in a variety of things match his ability to lead. And although he is a brilliant fighter, he also shows restraint and mercy. We know that Odysseus would fulfil the Iliad's view of a hero because there are references to his fighting ability. Firstly he is a hero of the Trojan War. He is described as one who " strove the hardest and achieved the most" at Troy. He was looked upon very highly by those who fought in the wars, which shows that he has qualities that they admired, they saw him as an honourable man. He fought the Cicones and raided their land. ...read more.

Middle

This was extremely clever. Then instead of just running down the hill to their ship straight afterwards, with the risk of being killed by the other Cyclops who would have been alert because of the crying. They wait until the Cyclops lets out his goats and sheep, the men and Odysseus hide under them so that they can get out of the cave safely and then get far enough down the hill to run. This proves successful. When Odysseus comes across Nausicaa he is naked, and instead of running toward her and frightening her, he realises that there is a better way to handle the situation. He is very polite and does not scare her. He is also very charming and manages to appeal to her by complimenting her and asking her if she is a God. He is very aware about how to speak to people and what they like to hear. Odysseus is also very aware that not everyone can be trusted, when he arrives in Ithaca and Athene approaches him in disguise, he pretends that he does not know where he is and that he is an exiled man. This is so that no stranger he meets will suspect him of being Odysseus and then run and warn the suitors. ...read more.

Conclusion

She helps Telemachus on his journey and actually inspires him to start it. She also appears to Penelope in a dream. The fact that the whole family is honoured by having a Goddess help them, shows that it is a special family, and shows Odysseus as being an honourable figure in society. Odysseus leads his men throughout rough seas and dangerous situations, such as saving them from their death from the Cyclops. He also shows great leadership when he instructs Telemachus what to do when they are fighting the suitors. We also learn that he is a good king in Ithaca, which shows leadership, because he runs Ithaca properly and when he is not there, things go to ruins. He gives orders clearly and they are followed. "This advice they took readily enough." In the Odyssey the Iliadic view of what a hero is, is challenged. We see that Odysseus is not merely a fighting machine who can kill anything. He is seen as a man who is very shrewd and cunning, and shows a level of intelligence that demands he acts in a responsible and honourable way. We learn in the Odyssey that to be a hero must be a mixture of good qualities that Odysseus does have. If Odysseus did not show mercy and restraint at the correct times, he would not be seen as a hero but a tirent. His leadership and skill were admired and he is a true hero because of his forethought. ...read more.

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