Even if the King did not go to the war there was still a chance that he might have existed. In the Odyssey, Homer used a narrative structure to tell his stories. The original texts were wrote on papyrus scrolls and it is theorized that these scrolls each told a chapter in Homers plays. The modern version of The Odyssey is a combination of all these scrolls that could have existed as separate stories about Odysseus travels, his encounters, and how he obtained his status as a hero. Ancient Greece has always been an interest of mine.
In 6th grade a teacher that I had know for my whole schooling showed a movie every week. One week we watched Jason and the Argonaughts. Ever since then I could never get enough Greek mythology. In freshman year of high school we read the annotated text book version of The Odyssey. Lucky for me, I transferred English classes at the semester and I was able to read The Odyssey twice. And since then Odysseus has been a hero to me.
The story starts in book 9, Odysseus telling his story to the King of Phaeaica. They sacked a city then sailed away when faced with opposing force. Next, they landed on the island of the lotus-eaters. After Odysseus pried his crew away from the lotus-eaters, they landed on the island of the Cyclops. Here is where Odysseus displays all his heroic qualities. Odysseus picked twelve of the best warriors from his crew to accompany him on the visit to the Cyclops, Polyphemus, and son of the god that shakes the Earth, Poseidon.
Polyphemus takes Odysseus captive and proceeds to eat his warriors for meals. Odysseus dreams up an ingenious plan. He reveals to the Cyclops that his name is Nobody. Then, while the Cyclops slept, Odysseus sharpened a log, heated it to an ember, and blinded the Cyclops.
When Polyphemus cried to the other Cyclops that he had been blinded, he told them that Nobody had blinded him so the other Cyclops did not come to his help. Then to complete his plan, Odysseus and his remaining crew hid in the under belly of Polyphemus sheep when they went out to pasture. Odysseus had to actually hold on to the sheeps under belly with his arms, unlike his crew who was tied to them. Odysseus uses his heroic qualities to over come all the conflicts that the fates and the Gods throw at him. He uses his cunning when he returns to his household. First he has to figure out a way to defeat all the suitors when there are only three of them.
After he defeats the suitors, he has to play mind games with his wife Penelope because of the warning Agamemnon gave him at the river of death. Another heroic quality is his looks and charm. If Odysseus had not have been as handsome then Circe would not have seduced him and he would not have been giving the advice about the river of the dead, the Sirens, Scylla and Charyboidis. Also, at the end of his journey had he not been handsome, Calypso would not have taken him in, fed him and gave him shelter, and he would have died on her island. And after all that, I do not believe that he would have been as welcomed at the Kingdom of Pheaecia by the princess Nausicaa. Having the protection of a god is also a certain quality of a hero.
Athena constantly helps Odysseus during his travels. Athena helps him escape from Calypsos island, helps him land on Pheaecia, and she also disguises him when he finally reaches home in order to help trick the suitors. Finally Odysseus super human strength helps him become a hero. Out of all the heroes that went into the Trojan War, Odysseus was one of the few that came back alive and lived. His strength and fighting ability helped him in the war. Also without his strength he would have not been able to escape from the Cyclops, Polyphemus.
His strength was also useful when he had to string his bow in order to win Penelope from the suitors and kill them all. In the text, heroism is defined as certain qualities that are revealed in interaction between the Gods, monsters and other humans. In book 8, page 207, line 559-84, the bard, Demodocus, tells the story of the hero Odysseus and how he defeated the Trojans. This is an example of how the Greeks remembered heroes, by their actions.
Before the story Odysseus earns his title as a superb war hero by defeating the Trojans. Then in his journey home, Odysseus bests the son of a god, the Cyclops, Polyphemus. After that he tricks Circe, then he passes the Sirens, Scylla, and Charyboidis. And upon completion of his journey home Odysseus achieves the greatest task of all. A mere mortal beats a god; Odysseus battles with Poseidon through the whole story.
All these conflicts earn Odysseus his rightful title of Hero in ancient Greece. In order to encounter all these conflicts, Odysseus has to endure great suffering. He is kept from his lovely wife, Penelope, and son, Telemachus, for twenty years. Not only that but he has to suffer by watching monsters such as Polypheums and Scylla devour his crew. And then he has to endure the destruction of his ship and crew at the hands of Zeus after they slaughtered the sun gods cattle.
Odysseus has suffered more than anyone that I can imagine. Odysseus is a classic Greek hero. A person has many attributes and events that make them a hero. In ancient Greece to be a hero you had to have certain advantages then the ordinary citizen. There was a very strict view on who could become a hero in ancient Greece.
This stereotype was, a male born to a rich/high class family. Many heroes have come and gone, but Odysseus is one of the few that have remained. The reason that Odysseus is one of the few is that he displays all the characteristics of a hero in ancient Greek culture as well in todays culture. During all of Odysseus encounters, he uses his metes, or street smarts, the most to survive and come out on top. Even though in most situations he could easily fight his way out he still tries to think his way out.
Will Odysseus remain in the realm of heroism in the distant future or will our views of heroism change and eliminate Odysseus from the hero category?Category: Philosophy