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What are Odysseus's strengths and weakness and how do they show on Helios's Island?

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azngrl318 | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 16, 2008 at 3:12 AM via web

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What are Odysseus's strengths and weakness and how do they show on Helios's Island?

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jgomezada | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Assistant Educator

Posted November 17, 2008 at 6:30 AM (Answer #1)

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Odysseus is a very curious, strong, resourceful, smart, and determined man. That said, he is also stubborn, defiant, proud, and full of hubris, all traits which often get him in trouble.

Odysseus was warned by Circe to stay away from Helios' island. However, his men's complaints and his curiosity and defiance got the better of him, and he allowed his men to land the ship there. Once on the sun god's island, Odyseus' men disobeyed him and ate the god's cattle. Zeus then hurled a thunderbolt at their ship and it is only through Odysseus determination and strength that he survived.

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Stephen Holliday | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted December 30, 2014 at 9:06 PM (Answer #2)

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One can argue that the episode on Helio's (Apollo's) island illustrates on of Odysseus' important strengths that, ironically, is also a weakness.

When Odysseus and his crew approach the island of Helios, even though Odysseus has been told to avoid the island, Odysseus gives in to the pleading of his men to land in order to seek food and water.  On the surface, Odysseus' decision to go ashore seems to be a seriously bad leadership decision, but we need to keep in mind that Odysseus and his crew have been together for over twenty years--through the Trojan War and tremendous struggles to get back to Ithaca.  His crew are not just subordinates, but companions, and several have been his close advisers all his life.  His decision to go ashore on Helios is based on compassion and, more important, trust that his men will follow his instructions.  

Odysseus' compassion--and trust in his men--are strengths as long as his men follow his instructions.  These same traits, however, become weaknesses only in hindsight--when his men betray his trust--and the Helios island episode becomes an example of a strength that evolve into weakness.  A hallmark of Odysseus' leadership in both the Iliad and the Odyssey is his flexibility in thought and deed.  This flexible leadership style, however, is dependent upon everyone doing his duty and, on the island of Helios, this particular strength is also a weakness.


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