Could you give a character sketch of Odysseus from The Odyssey that portrays his leadership as a military leader, father, husband, and man?

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missy575 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As a military leader, Odysseus is well-respected by his men, but that doesn't mean that they don't turn on him when their own selfishness presents the opportunities. When they pass the Sirens, we see his men operate in complete obedience as they cover their own ears but tie Odysseus to the mast so that he can listen to their beautiful song. He demands the men refrain from acts that will keep them from getting home (like eating more of the Lotus flower), and works to protect them from all of the obstacles they encounter. These obstacles help demonstrate Odysseus' intellect and respect for the gods. This most notably surfaces when the men travel to the Land of the Dead wherein they offer sacrifices to be able to appropriately talk with Tiresias, the blind prophet. A great leader wisely protects those he serves.

As a husband, Odysseus could be considered unfaithful because he spends time with both Circe and Calypso, but he claims he never gave consent in his heart, he was taken captive. Odysseus demonstrates great leadership in his marriage by controling situations. He defeated hundreds of men to regain his wife and after twenty years of absence, he still loved her. In fact, he loved her enough to contain his passion for her until the right moment. He was ready to let Penelope take on a new husband if he died, and that shows care for her needs. A great leader is faithful and strategic.

As a father, Odysseus was absent for a great part of his son's life, but he certainly left a staff of people who reported details of Odysseus' character to Telemachus. His reputation had proceeded him. By the time Odysseus returns home disguised as the beggar, Odysseus wisely reveals himself to his son and crafts a plan to defeat the suitors teaching his son to harness anger and release it at an appropriate time. A great leader is a teacher.

As a man, Odysseus sets and ethical example for all those around him by paying honor to the gods and by doing the right thing for the other people in his life. We see this when Odysseus accesses Zeus and Athena for assistance against the suitors, and as he shows appropriate respect and appreciation for all his servants throughout the story. A good leader demonstrates faith, honor, courage, and integrity.

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The Odyssey

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