In The Odyssey by Homer, referring to Odysseus' actions in Books 9-12, was he a bad leader and in what ways?
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Odysseus' Leadership in Books IX-XII
- He and his men attack Ismarus and sack the city, killing the men and sharing the wives and plunder. In one way, Odysseus is characterized as a good leader because he commands that everything be shared equally. On the other hand, he is a bad leader because his crew does not follow his orders, revealing his control is at best weak.
- After a dreadful storm, Odysseus is characterized as a good leader when he recognizes the dangers of the appealing Lotus-eaters, and he therefore forces his men back on board.
- Then, he and his men land on the Cyclops' island, at which point they are trapped by one of the monsters, Polyphemos. He is a good leader because he manages to outwit the Cyclops and escape with his men and many supplies. However, he is also a bad leader because, in his pride, he reveals his identity to the Cyclops. This endangers his entire crew.
- His crewmembers' betrayal following their stay at Aeolus' island goes unpunished, which could reveal Odysseus as a bad leader who does not hold people accountable for their actions, or as a good leader who forgives people's mistakes.
- Odysseus' quick thinking allows him and his ship to escape the Laestrygonians' attack, characterizing him as a good leader.
- On the Aeasean island, Odysseus' commitment to hunting and keeping his men safe shows that he is a good leader. Later, when Circe captures Odysseus' men, he refuses to abandon them to their fate, again making him a good leader. However, his decision to expose his men to Circe's power again is disturbing; although no harm comes of it, this is an ambiguous characterization.
- Odysseus' conversations with the ghosts characterize him as a good leader who listens carefully to advice.
- Odysseus' protection of his crew against the sirens is a mark of good leadership.
- Odysseus' inability to strike down or control Eurylochus makes him a bad leader and leads to serious issues in their quest.