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Let us remember that The Odyssey is only the second half of the story of Odysseus. He also features in The Iliad, which tells the tale of the Trojan War and how the ingenuity and inteligence of Odysseus led to a final end in the conflict. The character of Odysseus then is therefore well established from this previous epic classic, and Homer quickly reinforces his various heroic traits at the beginning of this sequel. He is shown to be strong, noble, courageous and possess a desire to attain glory and kudos. What separates him from other run-of-the-mill Homeric heroes, however, is his intelligence and his ability to apply his intelligence under pressure.
If we think about it, it is his intelligence that seems to be much more important than his other qualities. Note the way that it helps him to escape the cave of the Cyclops and how he also creates a distraction to cover up the slaughter of the suitors by telling his minstrel to play some loud music. In addition to his intelligence, another trait that stands him in very good stead is his charismatic personality and the way that he is gifted in speaking, being able to manipulate and to gain the trust of those he meets, as we can see when he meets Nausicaa.
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