The Odyssey by Homer

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Provide examples from The Odyssey to support why you think Odysseus is or is not a great hero.

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charcunning eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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My students said NO WAY!

Yes, they found him wily and clever, but they did not find him admirable at all.

Here are a few reasons:

When Odysseus is "stuck between Charybdis and Scylla," he chooses NOT to tell his men about the impending danger because he knew they would become panicked and would put the entire crew and the ship in danger; instead, he said nothing, hid himself below, and allowed 6 men to be eaten!

They also did not like the fact that he was so "unhappy" with Calypso...yeah right.  The laughed at the fact that throughout that portion of the poem he claims he does not love her but...

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sfwriter eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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jennifersun | Student

No, Odysseus is not an admirable hero because he makes rash decisions to put his crew mates and himself in jeopardy. One example would be when after stabbing Polyphemus the cyclopes in the eye and escaping, he shouts back to the cyclopes giving away his position and almost causing a ship wreck. Although, the cyclopes misted him, Odysseus spills his name dooming all of his men. 

sweet-ann | Student

Odysseus seems to be a hero in his own eyes, and although he has a rough sense of justice, the actions he commits seem fitting to him.

A Hero is someone who is constantly vying for the prevalence of the greater good. But Odysseus' interpretation of the greater good is much different at times, from ours as the readers.

In book 12, Circe tells him how to navigate Scylla and Charbdyis, and while he does end up not responding to the men who do get snatched up, he shows remorse.

When the end of the suitors and Melanthius comes, as much as we as readers think he goes way overboard in his revenge, this is how he sees justice in his house.


O is a hero, timeless and controversial. So there.

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