The Odyssey Essay

998 Words 4 Pages
Epic heroes shape the history of Greek mythology. They resonate through history for their ability to survive, their prowess in battle, and the favor with the gods. But when one delves deeper, most of the “heroes” appear as egotistic, ostentatious men. However, one man stands out from the rest. One man is more than a hero. Odysseus, king of Ithaca, echoes through Greek myths as a man above all others. Homer’s The Odyssey, an epic of one man’s journey home from the Trojan war, describes Odysseus as a man who loves his family and country, a man with patience and compassion, and one who also possesses frailties that one can recognize as human.
“brief is life, but love is long,” (Alfred Lord Tennyson). Odysseus ratifies this concept with his
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Odysseus’s motivation behind his years of hardship remains his adoring wife and son. His love and yearning for them continues as a recurring theme through the chapters. Odysseus’s love spreads not just to his family, but also to his men.
Among various qualities, Odysseus exhibits endless patience and compassion. Again and again his patience frays thin, but again and again his compassion binds the loose ends. One situation on the island of Thrinacia, home to the god Hyperion’s forbidden cattle, proves the extent of Odysseus’s compassion. Odysseus returns from prayer to hear Eurylochus explain “‘We know this is forbidden meat, but what choice did we have?’ If only I had stayed on the beach, surely I could have persuaded my companions to wait” (52). Odysseus warns them and, in spite of their actions, he chastises himself rather than punishing his men. Their obvious inanity brought the wrath of Zeus down upon them, but Odysseus obeys their final wishes and they depart the island immediately. Also, Odysseus demonstrates his patience when he finally arrives at Ithaca. He discovers his home overrun with piggish suitors. Disguising himself as a beggar, Odysseus enters his own gates “and Melanthius kicked Odysseus hard in the side as he passed him…his first impulse was to punish the arrogant goatherd there and then. Instead, like a real old beggar, he shrank away from his attacker” (72). Odysseus wanted to dole out the punishment due to

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