What is some textual evidence about how Odysseus was a bad leader?

Expert Answers
favoritethings eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Odysseus doesn't look like a very great leader when he describes the way he and his crew deal with the Cyclops, Polyphemus.  First, although his men advise him to gather some food and return to the ship, Odysseus "refused [...] -- hoping that [he] might see [Polyphemus] and he might offer [Odysseus] gifts."  Thus, he allows his greedy desire to overwhelm his common sense and concern for all of their safety.  Further, when he insists on telling Polyphemus his real name out of pride -- and so that the Cyclops could tell others in the future which mortal had bested him -- Odysseus allows his pride to endanger his crew.  If he weren't so set on gloating over his victory, they would have had a great deal less trouble on the seas.

Second, when Odysseus chooses not to tell his men what Aeolus has given him, they begin to doubt him and then betray him, costing them all more years at sea.  He says, "by our folly we were lost," because their misfortune is as much his mistake as it is theirs.  Had he not been so proud, he would have told them what the sack contains and they would not have wanted to open it up behind his back.  Perhaps he feels he does not need to share this information because he is the leader, or perhaps it is merely an oversight.  Either way, his failure to reveal the contents of the bag raised his crew's suspicions and resulted in further tragedy.  Both of these encounters show Odysseus's weaknesses as a leader.