What challenges does Odysseus face in The Odyssey?

In The Odyssey, Odysseus faces numerous challenges in the course of his journeys after the Trojan War. He travels from island to island in a series of strange and often dangerous encounters. Even after his wanderings have ended, however, his task is still not finished. Instead he must overcome and defeat the suitors, reimposing his authority over his kingdom and his household.

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Throughout The Odyssey, Odysseus is constantly beset by challenges. Some of these come from the wrath of the gods. Poseidon, in particular, has a grudge against Odysseus after he blinded his cyclops son. The god of the sea sends storms which nearly destroy Odysseus. He faces several other supernatural...

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Throughout The Odyssey, Odysseus is constantly beset by challenges. Some of these come from the wrath of the gods. Poseidon, in particular, has a grudge against Odysseus after he blinded his cyclops son. The god of the sea sends storms which nearly destroy Odysseus. He faces several other supernatural creatures, such as the Sirens, Scylla, and Charybdis. He also faces the dangers of descending into the underworld in order to get more information about his journey home. For many years, he is held captive on Calypso's island until Zeus intervenes to have him released.

Odysseus also has to contend with his own sailors. They anger Helios, the sun god, by killing his sacred cattle. They get intoxicated on lotus and fall into Circe's trap, being turned into pigs. On multiple occasions, they disobey his orders and nearly kill everyone. By the end of his journey, Odysseus is the lone survivor of his fleet of Ithacans.

Odysseus has his own weaknesses and faults to contend with as well. His pride, in particular, frequently gets him into trouble, such as boasting to Polyphemus that it was he who blinded him.

Upon reaching Ithaca, Odysseus's challenges are not over. A horde of suitors has taken over his home with the intent of marrying his wife. Only through cunning and the help of the goddess Athena is Odysseus able to defeat the suitors and return to his rightful position as the king of Ithaca.

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Odysseus faces both inward and outward challenges as he heads home after the Trojan War. Outward challenges include opposition from Poseidon, the sea god, who dislikes Odysseus and can raise up storms to imperil his voyage. Other outward challenges include passing the Sirens, whose alluring song leads sailors to shipwreck and doom. Following Circe's advice, Odysseus has his men's ears plugged up with beeswax. Wanting to hear the Siren's song, he has himself firmly tied to a mast. He also has to navigate between Scylla and Charybdis, knowing he must chose the encounter with the six-headed Scylla and thus lose six men to the monster. A bigger challenge is the island of Thrinacia, where his men must not kill the holy cattle of the sun god Helios. They do while Odysseus is asleep and are all killed, leaving Odysseus to complete the journey home alone.

Odysseus also has to confront his own inner demons to get home. For example, he foolishly reveals his name to the blinded Polyphemus out of pride: he wants credit for his cleverness. However, this means that Poseidon, Polyphemus's father, finds out and is more enraged than ever against Odysseus, making his voyage home more difficult. Finally, when Odysseus does come home, he has to use both his strength and wits to defeat the many suitors clamoring for Penelope's hand.

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After his departure from Troy, Odysseus is thrown into a series of strange and often dangerous encounters as he travels from one island to the next. Often he is physically outmatched: this is perhaps most strikingly expressed in his confrontation with the cyclops, Polyphemus, but the same theme can be observed in other episodes, such as his encounter with the monstrous Laestrygonians. Other times, his opponents have divine attributes: one of the most notable examples of this lies in Circe, a minor goddess, against whom he requires Hermes's aid to overcome. At one point he must even travel to the Land of the Dead itself. Later, after his departure from Circe's island, he will face further adventures and eventually the destruction of his ship and crew after their fatal decision to slaughter Helios's cattle. In the end, he must endure captivity by Calypso before he is finally allowed to return home.

Ultimately, however, perhaps his biggest challenge lies back in Ithaca itself, where the suitors are attempting to force Penelope to choose a new husband from among them. Even after Odysseus has returned home, his task is still not finished. Quite on the contrary, he must first reimpose his authority over his household and kingdom, overcoming the suitors and their challenge. Thus, we see his vengeance with his slaughtering of the suitors.

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Odysseus faces a great many challenges in The Odyssey.  First, although he cautions his men that they should move on quickly after the Trojan War, they "did not heed" him, got very drunk in celebration of their victory, and then were attacked by the Ciconians on Ismarus.  Next, he had to face a different kind of challenge when three of his men wanted to stay on the land of the Lotus-eaters after they had eaten the lotus flower.  He had to muscle them back to the ship despite their protests.  After this, he had to fight the Cyclops, Polyphemus, who ate several of his men and then involved his father, god of the sea, Poseidon, who then made it even more difficult for Odysseus to get home. 

Once they escape the Cyclops, he had to deal with the challenge of his disloyal men who opened the bag of winds Odysseus was given by Aeolus.  This bag contained all the winds that would blow his ships away from Ithaca, and when his men opened it (thinking that it contained treasure), they are blown all the way back to the island of Aeolia.  Then, his crew is attacked by giant cannibals in Laestrygonia.  After this, Odysseus was challenged by the witch, Circe, who turned his crew to pigs.  He stayed with her for a year before he felt he could leave without insulting her.  After this, travelled to the underworld to speak with the dead prophet, Teiresias, and get his advice on how to get home.  After this, he had to get past the Sirens (not that hard since he'd been told how), Scylla (who ate six of his men), Charybdis (in which he almost drowned), and his disloyal crew again when it came to not eating the Sun god's sacred cattle.  Then, he had to deal with the challenge of being held captive by Calypso for several years, and when he gets home, he has to meet the challenge of the many suitors who have been abusing his family's hospitality and attempting to force his wife to marry one of them.

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