The first time we meet Odysseus is in book five, previous to this we have only heard about him, from the gods, his family, and his friends. Athene described him as “the wise and unlucky Odysseus,”(b.1/l.48). We also heard from his friend Menelaus, of how astonishing he was; “it was Odysseus who strove…”(b.4/l.107), “…all the daring feats of dauntless Odysseus.”(b.4/l.240). From the amazing remarks, when we do see him, we are expecting an amazing, strong soldier, who never wishes to give up hope. Instead what we encountered was “…him sitting on the shore. His eyes were wet with weeping…”(b.5/l.151). Instead of seeing the strong survivor we had come to expect, we found a man crying. Immediately I have noticed that there are two sides to his character, which can imply that his attitudes, opinions or actions cannot be predicted.
Through out this book there is one major emotional theme, which is love. Odysseus and Penelope's lasting relationship is an obvious representation of love in the Odyssey. Although Odysseus is gone for twenty years he never forgets his faithful wife in Ithaca. This love almost seems to help him persevere through the many hardships that he encounters on his journey home. On the other hand, Penelope also exemplifies this same kind of love for Odysseus. At home in Ithaca, she stays loyal to Odysseus by unravelling his shroud and delaying her marriage to the suitors that are courting her. She always keeps the hope that her love, Odysseus, will return. Odysseus and Penelope's marriage clearly illustrates the theme of love.
There are also many other bonds formed in life that show great love and guidance. One of the most emphasized in the Odyssey is the father - son relationship. These relationships clearly support the issue of love in the Odyssey. The father - son relationship between Odysseus and Telemachos is a little awkward because they both never really got to know each other but they still care for each other's well being. Telemachos on the contrary also displays a lot of love for his father. Telemachos leaves Ithaca, inexperienced, to try and find any knowledge of his father in hope that he’s still alive. Telemachos through out most of his life has lacked a father figure and desperately needs that special help and guidance from Odysseus, as he becomes a man. Their relationship seems to show how love can give you the strength to carry on. However, occasionally it seems to slip Odysseus’ mind that he has a loving wife back home, when he persistently flirts with women that he encounters on his travels. Firstly it was with the Nymph Calypso, when she “smiled and stroked him…”(b.5/l.180). And then later saying how his wife didn’t measure up to her at all, “I too know well enough that my wise Penelope’s looks and stature are insignificant compared with yours.”
He then later flirts with a women he has just met, after he has left Ogygia, Nausicaa. “Princeness, I am at knees…the Daughter of almighty Zeus, that your beauty, grace and stature most remind me.”(b.6/l149). Nevertheless I do believe that he does this in good reason, he just wishes to be kind and wants some help from these women to return home, enabling him to see his wife and home again. I imagine that anyone else in his position would do exactly the same for some food, clothes and assistance.
In “The Odyssey”, the relationship between the Goddess, Athene and the hero, Odysseus is symbiotic; that is, what Odysseus lacks, Athena provides in order for his quest to be accomplished. Athene helped Odysseus numerous ways physically and mentally by aiding him, Telemachus, and Penelope. In book one, Athene urged Telemachus to give up boyhood, act like a man, present his case to search for his father to the assembly, and take stronger steps to search for his father. After Telemachus presented his case to the assembly and no action was taken on his request for a ship to enable him to search for his father, Athene assisted in getting a ship and crew for Telemachus. Athene put the idea into Odysseus’ head to cling onto the rock, when he reached land from being out at sea. Athene also helped Odysseus by putting courage into Nausicaa, when they first met by the water, so she would listen to him and help him. So if it was not for Athene, it is doubtful that Odysseus would be the man that he is.
Odysseus’ most important quality as an epic hero is his ‘metis’, a Greek word meaning artifice, stratagem, or plan. Homer even associates Odysseus as ‘polymetis’, or a man of ‘many turns’. Odysseus was more than just an everlasting hero, he was human, a family man, a patient and compassionate man, and was definitely capable of human weaknesses. In the Odyssey, Odysseus was very patient and compassionate. However, a hero is "a man noted for his special achievements" according to the dictionary, but if you ask most people what a hero is, you will get the same general response. They will probably say "someone who does something for other people out of the goodness of his heart." Odysseus, who is the main character of the book "The Odyssey" written by Homer, would fit the dictionary¹s definition of a hero; but if you go deeper, looking at what people feel a hero is, he doesn¹t even come close. In the book, Odysseus does nothing out of the kindness of his heart. A true hero is a person who does something great and does not expect to be given any thing in return. A hero thinks more of others than he or she thinks of him or her self. Odysseus is an epic hero. Odysseus is a strong and brave man, but I think he lacks one of the major characteristics of a hero. I think he thinks of himself more than he thinks of others.
Odysseus is a brave man that did great things.
So far I do like the character of Odysseus, I think that he is a brave man but has been out of normal civilisation for so long, it is natural that he is going to miss certain things, people, and interact in different ways. He is bound to be suspicious of people, and try to keep on the right side of them as much as possible.