January 17, 2017 General Studies

The heroes of the Greeks were an intricate part of society. After the gods and demi-gods of Greece, the heroes were extremely revered by the people. One hero in particular has distinguished himself from the rest through his quest and adventures — Odysseus. He displays the necessary qualities to be honored as a hero, but also has distinguishing traits that set him apart from the rest. In order to describe the traits that contrast Odysseus from the customary Greek hero, it is first necessary to define what a hero was in those days and then to illustrate the similarities Odysseus shared with them.

According to mythology and legend, a hero is defined as a man or a woman, often of divine ancestry, who is gifted with great courage and strength, celebrated for his or her bold exploits, and favored by the gods. Some heroes that have been helped or favored by the gods are Agamemnon, Achilles, Heracles, Theseus, Jason, and of course, Odysseus. .

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Like all of these heroes, Odysseus was in favor of most of the gods. In fact, all of the Olympian gods aimed to help him, except Poseidon. It is also important to note, however, that despite being favored by most gods, the hero almost always came into conflict with at least one of the gods during his or her quest. The hero would often do something characteristically selfish, and swiftly anger one of the gods. Odysseus” major conflict was with the god Poseidon. He blinded the god’s Cyclops son Polyphemus and boasted, “If anybody asks who robbed you of your eye, you may tell him that it was Odysseus the sacker of cities, the son of Laertes, King of Ithaca!” (Green, p. 314-315) And so, with that foolish announcement, Odysseus brought upon himself a curse from Poseidon, who was avenging his son’s blindness. This curse would prove to be costly, as it would be the cause of the extension of Odysseus” journey by another ten years and of the evils he experienced on his way home.


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