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Which postive and negative character traits does Odysseus demonstrate in his adventure...

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rathergood11 | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 22, 2009 at 4:33 AM via web

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Which postive and negative character traits does Odysseus demonstrate in his adventure with the Cyclops?

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troutmiller | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted January 22, 2009 at 6:25 AM (Answer #1)

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Odysseus is very clever when dealing with the cyclops Polyphemus.  First of all, he lies to him when he is asked about his ship.  He claims that it was destroyed.  He does this so Polyphemus doesn't go out and destroy it himself.  Then he tricks him into drinking the wine so that they could blind him.  Lastly, he came up with the idea to hide under the sheep so that they could escape out of the cave without the blind Polyphemus knowing about it.

The one downfall to Odysseus character in this section is that he taunts Polyphemus.  He gets carried away, and he boasts about what he has done and how he has tricked him and got away with it.  Odysseus wants that fame, so he makes sure that Polyphemus knows his name and where he's from so that he can tell all who ruined him.  This then allows Polyphemus to curse him.  This curse is what creates such a hard trip home for him and the death of his crew.


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allie344 | TA | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

Posted January 12, 2015 at 3:52 AM (Answer #2)

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The Odyssey centers around the theme, brain versus brawn. This theme is most prevalent during this instance with the Cyclopes. It is nearly impossible to deny that Odysseus acts brilliantly in this situation. The Cyclops traps Odysseus in a cave which he seals with a giant boulder that no mortal man can lift. Odysseus cannot kill the Cyclops because if he does so, he will never be able to escape from the cave. Instead he tells the Cyclopes that his name is Noman and gets him drunk on wine.

When the Cyclopes lies down for the night, Odysseus and his men sharpen a pike which they use to pierce the Cyclope's only eye. The Cyclopes, blinded, runs outside to tell his neighbors what has happened but when asked who blinded him he can only respond "Noman blinded me!" The next day, Odysseus ties his men to the bellies of the Cyclopes sheep, so when the Cyclopes lets out his sheep to the pasture, Odysseus and his men escape. 

But as Odysseus sails away, his pride overcomes him and he shouts his real name to the Cyclops. The Cyclopes then prays to Poseidon to curse Odysseus. This prevents Odysseus from returning home for ten years. 

So in answer to your question, Odysseus strength was his brilliance in escaping the Cyclopes and his weaknesses were both in his pride and in his gluttony. It was Odysseus's gluttony that lead him into the Cyclops' cave, where he feasted on cheese.  

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