What qualities does Odysseus show in Books 9-12
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Helen Ryder What qualities does Odysseus show in Books 9-12? Throughout the Odysseus we see many good and bad qualities of Odysseus. Odysseus is known to be a great leader and these leadership qualities are presented in how he always looks out for his men. Although sometimes the advise he gives them is ignored and this reflects on the men's stubbornness. This behaviour is seen before the attack of the Cicones. Odysseus takes from Troy what he needs and is eager to leave. However, his men ignore this order and stay to celebrate. This stubborn behaviour leads to the loss of 6 men from each ship. However, the loss of Odysseus's men is very important in the Odysseys because it is important that he returns home alone. Another of Odysseus's good leadership ships is that he always makes time for the important ritual of sending them off to the underworld, 'I would not let the curved ships sail before each of our poor comrades who had fallen in action against the Cicones had been tree times saluted with a ritual call'. When Odysseus and his troops reached the land of the Lotus Eaters, there was a hard decision that Odysseus, as the leader, had to decide. His men had indulged in a drug which caused them to forget all thoughts of return.
By calling himself 'Nobody' he was able to hide his identity and frame the Cyclopes for being mentally ill when he was calling out to his neighbours that Nobody had blinded him. Although, Odysseus fails to the temptation of vanity and soon shows his foolishness by telling Polythemus his real name. Odysseus does this in order to maintain his reputation. Often we see that Odysseus puts his reputation as his main priority. He was cautious of the land of the Cyclopes, and still, looks for an adventure there in order to spread his name further. He waits for the Cyclopes to return home so that he may receive gifts, and he provokes Poseidon's wrath so that he may be remembered. The sirens know that Odysseus cares about his reputation so they tempt him by saying they will tell him. After his disastrous visit to the Cyclopes and the loss of his men Odysseus decides not to go inland himself at the land of the Laestrygonians and keeps his ships away from the harbour. He sends only three men inland. This shows us that on this occasion Odysseus cares more about his own safety that the safety of his own men. As a leader it should have been him who ventured onto the unknown island.
Odysseus makes some mistakes in that he is not always truthful to his men and this causes a barrier of communication between them. If only Odysseus had told his men what was in the bag carrying the wind that Aeolus gave to Odysseus then they wouldn't have come to disaster. Odysseus had nothing to loose in telling them. Odysseus sometimes keeps the truth hidden in order to protect his men. An example of this would be when he avoided telling them about Scylla and Charybdid in order not to upset his crew and forestall panic. He gives rallying speeches of motivation; 'My friends,' I said 'we may be miserable, but we are not going down to the house of Hades yet, not till our time has come. Get up, and while there's food and drink on board, let us have something to eat instead of dying here of starvation'. To conclude, Odysseus has the qualities of a great leader. Although he is not able to keep all of his men alive he still makes a big effort to help them survive and it is his men's arrogance and stubbornness which costs them their own lives. Odysseus would not have got so far without his quick thinking and crafty tactics which helped his defeat the Cyclopes and the other magical monsters he meets on his journey home. Word count- 1381
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