The Odyssey Questions and Answers
by Homer

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In The Odyssey, what are some examples that prove that Odysseus is arrogant? I already have the part of when Odysseus yells his name to the Cyclops. 

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David Morrison eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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One could reasonably argue that Odysseus shows arrogance in wanting to hear the song of the Sirens, those strange creatures who lure sailors to their deaths against the rocks of their island. The Sirens' song is renowned for its extraordinary beauty, which is why so many sailors cannot resist its beguiling charm. Odysseus doesn't want his men to suffer a similar fate, which is why he insists that they plug up their ears with beeswax when they sail past the Sirens' island.

As for Odysseus, and this is where his arrogance comes into the picture, he won't block out the Sirens' song; he's going to listen to it. He wants to be able to say that he's heard their song and yet lived to tell the tale. So he orders his men to strap him to the mast as the Sirens do their thing. No matter how much Odysseus begs his men to set him free as he undergoes the exquisite torture of listening to the song that ravishes his ears with its heavenly beauty, they must ignore him.

Odysseus didn't really...

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lsumner eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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mltaliento | Student

One of my favorite moments that shows Odysseus' arrogance is when he decides to go against Circe's advice in Book 12 of The Odyssey. When Odysseus finally packs up to leave Circe's palace, she gives him instructions to follow so he will continue on safely.

She warns him that Charybdis (a giant whirlpool monster) and Scylla (a six-headed sea creature) will be impossible to pass without losing some members of his crew. But - if he just sails past them as fast as he can, only a few men will die. When Odysseus asks whether he can fight Scylla, and try to avoid losing any crew members, she warns him not to. Scylla will be too tough to beat and Charybdis will be too hard to escape. Odysseus needs to outrun them instead, and accept that he will lose six men. Odysseus agrees (to Circe's face) and begins his journey.

So the time comes for him to face off against Charybdis and Scylla. In true Odysseus fashion, despite the warnings, he still tries to fight Scylla! And what do you know? He is unable to fight Scylla, and ends up losing the six men anyway. He took a great risk, and tried to defy the advice of a demigod. He could've lost absolutely everything.

While it was noble to try and save all of the men, I think this really shows his arrogance. He was told with honest advice that he shouldn't do it, but tried to prove the goddess wrong and do it anyway. That's arrogance to me!

artaluah | Student

Characters are generally portrayed by their actions. Quite apart from what they do, what they say about themselves and what other characters say about them reveal significant traits about the characters in question.

Perhaps, the most evident flaw of Odysseus in the Odyssey is his arrogance, and this is evidenced by his use of the first person singular pronoun "I" to credit to himself what is worthy of praise or what is right in general whereas his compatriots as "they" the third person singular are often credited with folly and wrongdoing.

Odysseus' boast to the cyclops, Polyphemus for outwitting him and blinding him clearly shows his arrogant nature, however, his arrogance here merely compounds his problems as his main arrogance was actually demonstrated after the defeat of Troy. Odysseus actually lays claim of defeating Troy with no due respect to divine hands as Athena who promised from the onset to stay by his side. Odysseus' wits may have contributed significantly to the defeat of Troy but simply disregarding the efforts of his numerous compatriots is a clear evidence of his self-conceitedness.

Indeed, it is only human to make mistakes, but realizing ones mistakes and attempting to make amendments to such mistakes tend to show the substance of a person. For instance, Odysseus errs and he is immediately alerted by Poseidon of his mistakes and instead of him being apologetic for his statement, which may have attracted the pardon of Poseidon, he simply ignores his mistakes and feels confident that he would and can make it home by virtue of his own efforts. He encounters a series of impediments, however, he chooses to forge on and as a result of his arrogance, he goes through many trying times and loosing his crew only to concede to Poseidon when has nothing else to lose but his life.

In fact, the plot in the Odyssey revolves around the arrogance of Odysseus. It is Odysseus' arrogance that incurs the anger of Poseidon and it is his arrogance that continues to keep him wandering in alien waters and lands.

jeremydodson | Student

He yells back at the cyclops.

When he decides he can handle listening to the Sirens, but the rest of the crew need to be "protected" from it.