In Homer's The Odyssey, how does Odysseus compare to other heroes in literature?
Odysseus is a great warrior, but combat is not his greatest strength. Achilles, for example, is the most powerful of all the Greeks; and Hector, the greatest of the Trojan warriors, is more than Odysseus' equal in battle. Yet he is a man of incredible strength--the only man able to string his own bow and capable of breaking the jaw of a man with a single punch--and endurance, able to alone survive the catastrophes that befall him. Odysseus is best known for his wisdom and clever ways; deceit is another of his traits, and he uses these attributes to survive both the war and his eventual journey home. In the Iliad, he is a secondary character and warrior to Achilles, Hector, Agamemnon and Ajax, best known for his guile and diplomatic maneuverings. But in The Odyssey, Odysseus grows into a character of heroic legend, utilizing his intelligence, wits and love of humanity to thwart the many monsters and survive the predicaments into which he is thrust. He meets every life-threatening challenge with success, though by the end, he is left alone after the deaths of his crew. In the end, he is transformed into the most human of all the Greek legends, desperate only to return home so he can reunite with Penelope; see his son, Telemachus, for the first time; and live the remainder of his days in his little world of Ithaca.