The Odyssey: Odysseus' heroic/frail qualities

Essay by nzeb123High School, 10th gradeB, March 2008

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A hero might typically be described as a courageous person who has the strength of a warrior and a leader to triumph in battles. However, a hero may also be someone who uses his brain just as much as he uses his brawn. In 'The Odyssey' by Homer, Odysseus embodies the ideal human qualities that Homer's Greek society respect: bravery, nobility and intelligence. Despite these attributes, he has a tragic flaw that brings demise and destruction over his journey and his men. Although at times his actions bring suffering to others, the courageous and assiduous Odysseus displays many admirable traits.

The one and only tragic flaw of the eminent epic hero is that he possesses an excessive amount of pride. Since his status stands as the renowned warrior of the Trojan War, he requires much dignity to support his heroic background. For example, when Odysseus escapes from the dreaded Cyclops with his men, he shouts his name and boasts in victory to have his legacy grow.

This action presents his hubris because he jeers and brags that he has indeed defeated the one-eyed monster, "Kyklops, if ever moral man inquire how you were put to shame and blinded, tell him Odysseus, raider of cities, took your eye..."(IX, 548 - 551). His insults to Polyphemus eventually brings misfortunes and catastrophic disasters on his journey back to Ithaca. Odysseus lessens his heroism value by this because he puts his group and himself in danger, which contradicts the traits of a hero. He should have considered the consequences and the jeopardy of revealing his true identity to Kyklops.

A characteristic that plays an immense role in Odysseus is his courage. Throughout his journey back to Ithaca, his bravery and swiftness save him and his crew from monsters such as...