In the Odyssey, the main character is Odysseus. He is trying get home to his island Ithaca. After fighting a ten-year war in Troy, Odysseus is eager to get home to see his beloved Penelope and his dear son Telemachus.
Sadly, it will take Odysseus ten more years to finally reach his home and loved ones. Because Odysseus would not give the gods true worship, Poseidon made Odysseus' journey home quite difficult. No doubt, Odysseus was an arrogant man who felt he did not need assistance from the gods. His long, difficult journey home teaches Odysseus a true lesson in humility. Along the way home, Odysseus learns many valuable lessons.
First, Odysseus and his men are blown off course and land at the Lotus-Eaters land:
They reached the land of the Lotus-Eaters, who offered three of Odysseus’ men some of their lotus plant to eat. The men complied, but immediately refused to leave their new locale because of the lotus flowers’ enchantment. Odysseus dragged his wailing men back to the ships, and they again moved out to sea.
No doubt, Odysseus learns that some of his men are weak. They would rather live in the land of the Lotus-Eaters than to return home. This is a lesson for Odysseus. His men are not as loyal as he once thought.
In the land of the Cicones, Odysseus and his men kill the Cicone men and take their wives as slaves. When Odysseus urges his men to sail away, he learns that his men are greedy. His men will not listen to him. They continue their drinking and celebrating until the remaining Cicone men gather reinforcements and attack Odysseus and his men:
We took their wives and also much booty, which we divided equitably amongst us, so that none might have reason to complain. I then said that we had better make off at once, but my men very foolishly would not obey me, so they stayed there drinking much wine and killing great numbers of sheep and oxen on the sea shore. Meanwhile the Cicons cried out for help to other Cicons who lived inland. These were more in number, and stronger, and they were more skilled in the art of war, for they could fight, either from chariots or on foot as the occasion served; in the morning, therefore, they came as thick as leaves and bloom in summer, and the hand of heaven was against us, so that we were hard pressed.
Odysseus learned that some of his men cannot be satisfied. Some of Odysseus' men did not respect Odysseus as their leader. Once again, Odysseus learns that all his men cannot be trusted. This was difficult for Odysseus to internalize. Odysseus would never have turned his back on his men. Odysseus has learned that greed overpowers loyalty.
On the island of Calypso, Odysseus has the choice to remain with Calypso and become immortal. Odysseus refuses to stay with Calypso. He learns so much about his true love for Penelope. While Odysseus could have been granted eternal life, he chose to spend the few days he had left on earth with his true love Penelope.
From the beginning of Odysseus' journey in trying to get home, Odysseus changes. In the beginning, he was an arrogant, unappreciative man. He refused to honor the gods for their help and direction in his life. Odysseus was a self-made man or so he thought. When Odysseus could not get home on his own, Odysseus was humbled. He finally realized the significance of the gods. He changed considerably from the prideful man he was into the desperate man he became. He learned so much from the obstacles he faced on his way home.