How does Homer's portrayal of Odysseus redefine heroism with qualities of thoughtfulness and consideration?

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The portrait of Odysseus in the Iliad, and even more so in The Odyssey, represents an unusual type of hero. Many of the heroes in epics are distinguished by physical prowess. Odysseus resembles other heroes in physical strength, as is evidenced by his proof of his identity by ability to use the bow at the end of The Odyssey. However, there are many ways in which Odysseus is atypical.

Most epic heroes take a direct approach to problems: usually that of killing anything that gets in their way. Odysseus is unusual in suggesting clever stratagems, often using misdirection or even outright lies to achieve his goals. For example, he escapes Polyphemus by using long-term planning and elements of deception. He manages to escape Scylla and Charybdis not by fighting them directly but by sacrificing a few sailors so that the rest might survive. He devised the scheme of the Trojan horse to invade the city of Troy. For this reason, his main epithets in Homer are "polytropos," meaning "many forms or adaptability," and "polymetis," meaning "clever in many ways."

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Odysseus is not just a hero in the traditional sense—a brave, noble warrior who acquits himself with great courage on the battlefield. He's also a thinker: not an intellectual, to be sure, but someone who thinks carefully about his next move. A great example of his thoughtfulness comes when he assists Diomedes in the skillful night operation to kill Rhesus's horses. It had been foretold that if these horses drank from the Scamander river, then Troy would not fall. Odysseus pays careful attention to prophecies and divine omens, and this helps stand the Achaeans in good stead in their long, drawn-out battle with the Trojans.

In this case, as in so many others, Odysseus displays heroic behavior in that he's thinking about what's best for the Achaeans as a whole, not just for himself (unlike Achilles, for example). Odysseus does an incredible job throughout The Iliad restoring order and morale to the Achaean camp, in the midst of all the petty squabbles and clashes of ego. This, more than any of his numerous acts of physical bravery on the field of battle, is what makes Odysseus a new kind of hero.

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Homer's depiction of Odysseus redefines heroism in a unique manner.  Contrary to the war fighting arete of Achilles, Odysseus is shown as a "thinking man's hero."  Odysseus is portrayed in a manner that shows a sense of thoughtfulness.  This thoughtfulness is reflected in how thoroughly Odysseus uses his mind to solve problems. He is thoughtful in the how he thinks through problems and situations.  It is for this reason that Achilles needs his guile and sense of skill in negotiation and planning.  Odysseus is the only force that can bring Achilles from his stance against Agamemnon and back towards fighting.  Odysseus is described as thoughtful by the Trojans, as well, who suggests that his words are like "flakes of snow in a winter blizzard," reflective of thoughtfulness and judicious care.  Odysseus might not be heroic in his exploits on the battlefield, which are very considerable and worthy. Yet, his strength is his ability to consider situations and be thoughtful of them.  Odysseus recognizes danger and understands the need to move from it, making him a more thoughtful and considerate hero.  He understands that his chances are not good with Helen, and thus he tactfully withdraws from consideration.  The planning element that is seen in the "gift" to Troy that ends up dooming the Trojans is Odysseus' best example of his thoughtful consideration towards problems.  Odysseus ability to consider all sides of a problem and think through a solution to it are where he is fundamentally different than the traditionally Classical hero.  He is shown to be a thinker, a problem solver, one who uses his mind more than any other muscle to define success.

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