Illustration of Odysseus tied to a ship's mast

The Odyssey

by Homer

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What are Odysseus's admirable traits? Name them and support them.

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Odysseus is extremely clever. When he finds himself trapped in Polyphemus's cave, he has the foresight to tell the cyclops that his name is "Nobody." The reader really has no idea why he would tell this particular lie until much later, when we see that Odysseus was thinking very far ahead. When Odysseus and his men blind Polyphemus and the other cyclopes come running to his cave to check on him, Polyphemus tells them that "Nobody" is hurting him, so they leave! We can see now what a clever decision this was on Odysseus's part.

Further, Odysseus is a responsible and compassionate leader. When some of his men eat the lotus fruit and no longer want to return home to Ithaca, Odysseus is unwilling to leave them behind. He knows that in reality they want to return home, and he knows their families need them.  Therefore, he physically muscles them back to the ship, and ties them up so they cannot escape.

Finally, Odysseus is extremely fair. When his ship must sail past Scylla, he knows there is a good chance that six of his men will be eaten by the monster. Rather than hide below deck and save himself, however, Odysseus casts his lot with his men and remains above deck because it is the fair thing to do. He doesn't consider his men somehow more dispensable than he is.

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