In what ways did Odysseus perform good deeds?

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iandavidclark3 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Odysseus is often recognized for his ego, as he is prone to bouts of pride and arrogance. The mortal's lack of humility usually gets him into trouble with the gods, especially Poseidon, who spends much of the narrative trying to thwart Odysseus' attempts to return home. That said, despite his pride, Odysseus is still virtuous, and he manages to perform several good deeds by the end of the epic poem.

A couple of good deeds come to mind. First of all, he risks his life to save his men from Circe, even after the sorceress changes them into swine. Secondly, while navigating the Sirens' waters, Odysseus has himself tied to a mast and orders his crew to plug their ears with wax and avoid changing course, no matter how much he might beg for it. On both occasions, Odysseus puts his own safety at risk to help his followers, and these good deeds show that, despite his arrogance, Odysseus is a compassionate leader who cares for the lives of his crew. As such, the deeds that he performs are not only heroic, but good, and they display a virtuous quality that is often eclipsed by Odysseus' pride.