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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kcoleman2016 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

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Odysseus' Leadership in Books IX-XII

  1. 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. 
  2. 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. 
  3. 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. 
  4. 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. 
  5. Odysseus' quick thinking allows him and his ship to escape the Laestrygonians' attack, characterizing him as a good leader
  6. 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. 
  7. Odysseus' conversations with the ghosts characterize him as a good leader who listens carefully to advice. 
  8. Odysseus' protection of his crew against the sirens is a mark of good leadership
  9. Odysseus' inability to strike down or control Eurylochus makes him a bad leader and leads to serious issues in their quest. 

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