What is Odysseus motivated by in The Odyssey?Is he motivated by his family, or is he motivated to be a hero? I know that his crew was more motivated by fame and glory, and I feel that Odysseus may...

What is Odysseus motivated by in The Odyssey?

Is he motivated by his family, or is he motivated to be a hero? I know that his crew was more motivated by fame and glory, and I feel that Odysseus may have started his quest with this in mind, but do you think his motivation changed?

Expert Answers
linda-allen eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The premise of The Odyssey is that Odysseus is trying to return to home after the defeat of the Trojans. He went to war in support of his liege lord, Agamemnon, and now that it is over, he can return to Ithaca.

Odysseus is already a king, although not a "king of kings" like Agamemnon. Also, it was he who came up with the plan to use the Trojan horse to trick the Trojans. So he already has fame and glory among the Greeks at the outset of the story. Even though he takes some sidetracks along the way, his priority remains to get home to his wife and son. The eNotes analysis of his character tells us:

For Homer, Odysseus is a loyal husband, loving father, and a true hero who wants nothing more than to return to his home and his loved ones. To achieve this goal he even turns down an easy chance at immortality.

He'd rather be at home with his family than sit with the gods on Mt. Olympus. What motivates Odysseus? Home!

Susan Woodward eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Odysseus is motivated by his desire to return to Ithaca a hero of the Trojan War.  He wishes to return to his kingdom and to regain his family.  In my opinion, he is more motivated by regaining the throne of Ithaca than being reunited with his wife.  Penelope was faithful for twenty years, doing nothing that could have been considered as dishonoring her marriage or her husband's memory, all the while believing that he would come home to her.  Odysseus, on the other hand, bedded both Calypso and Circe, leaving children behind with each of them.  Then he had the nerve to withold revealing himself to Penelope once he returned to Ithaca until he found out if she'd been faithful!  He revealed himself to his son who had been only a year old when Odysseus had been drafted into fighting the Trojan War twenty years ago before he revealed himself to his wife.

clane eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Odysseus, while he basks in fame and glory, is motivated more by his family. In fact, fame and glory are not what set him at the front of the Trojan War, he did not even want to fight in it, but was forced. He wanted to stay in his kingdom with his son and wife and even tried to feign insanity. It was not until he was plowing up a newly planted field that the council threw Telemachus in front of his plow to test his insanity. He of course would have done nothing to harm his son so he left his home to fight a war he felt was ridiculous. While he gains fame and glory along the way, he is always driven by his quest for home, his kingdom, his son, and Penelope, his wife. His motivation stayed true throughout the story, even though he does become distracted along the way, he is always seeking home.

Read the study guide:
The Odyssey

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