Give examples from The Odyssey that show the good or bad leadership or decision-making abilities of Odysseus.

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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There is enough evidence to argue that Odysseus is in fact a very poor leader who allows his own personal desire for glory and fame to cloud his judgement as a leader and place his men in danger. A classic example of this occurs in Book 12, where, in spite of having been warned about the futility of trying to oppose Scylla, Odysseus firstly does not tell his men about the monster that awaits them and secondly dons his armour in order to fight the creature. He shows himself to be very arrogant, ignoring the advice from Circe who knows more than he does about Scylla's strength and might. The result is tragic for the men of Odysseus:

Scylla pounced down suddenly upon us and snatched up my six best men. I was looking at once after both ship and men, and in a moment I saw their hands and feet ever so high above me, struggling in the air as Scylla was carrying them off, and I heard them call out my name in one last despairing cry.

One way of reading the text is to see it as suggesting that these men died as a result of the arrogance of Odysseus, and if he had heeded the advice of Circe and not tried to go for glory himself, he would have saved the life of these men, which is perhaps why he is so haunted by their deaths.


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