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Odyssey Final



What Makes Odysseus an Epic Hero

The main character in the epic poem, The Odyssey, is the hero Odysseus. But what makes him an epic hero? There are a few different traits that are used to define someone as an epic hero. 

One of these traits is that

the hero has to have a

noble birth. Odysseus is

the King of Ithaca, which

can be known because it is directly stated in the introduction, "...against the brave king..." Because he is the ruler of a land, we know Odysseus had a noble birth.

Another trait of epic heroes is that they are capable of performing deeds of great strength and courage. This is something that puts them even further above regular people then just having a noble birth. Odysseus attacks a cyclops and even ventures to the Land of the Dead; he faces and overcomes these and many more different challenges on the way back home. But there are also challenges when he arrives back in Ithaca as well. Penelope has devised an archery contest that none of the suitors can seem to win. Odysseus is the only one capable of stringing the bow and shooting it, as it says in paragraph 1205, "Now flashed arrow from twanging bow clean as a whistle through every socket ring, and grazed not one, to thud with heavy brazen head beyond." This sentence shows that Odysseus can do what the other suitors cannot.

Epic heroes are also great warriors. They usually have fought in battles before, and have established themselves as great fighters. The whole reason Odysseus has to sail back to Ithaca is because he left to fight in a war in Troy. The introduction states, "...he plundered the stronghold on the proud height of Troy." Since he has fought and survived a war it can be understood that he is a strong warrior. Odysseus also tells King Alcinous, "Men hold me formidable for guile in peace and war..." This shows that other people see him as a strong individual. 

Odysseus takes a journey home for many

years, and along the way he comes

across many different islands and people.

The Island of the Lotus Eaters, the Hall of

Circe, and Calypso's island are just some

of the places he visits. It is said in the introduction, "He saw the townlands and learned the minds of many distant men..." Which means he saw many people and their lands.

Most epic heroes do not spend their time sitting around at home doing nothing. Typically they go on long journeys to some place. The word "Odyssey" actually means a trip taken on a large scale, and it comes from this very poem. 

 And later his crew eats the sacred cattle of Lord Helios, who then throws Odysseus off track again. But not everyone is his foe, the rest of the gods have pity on him, and he is helped most by the goddess Athena. In the "Calypso" chapter it is stated, "...over him Athena showered sleep that his distress should end..." She helps him fall asleep so that he can calm down and rest.

An epic hero typically does not fight ordinary people. While on his journey Odysseus comes face to face with sirens, cyclops, and sea monsters. However he not only faces monstrous foes, but a godly one as well. He angers Poseidon, the god of the sea, who tries to hinder Odysseus on his trip back home.

Despite being blinded, Polyphemus lobs boulders at the escaping men by listening to the sound of Odysseus' voice. Odysseus also refuses to listen to the warnings of his crew, as it is said in the "Cyclops" episode, "I would not heed them in my glorying spirit, but let my anger flare and yelled..." This shows that Odysseus lets his success and resentment get to him, causing him to make mistakes. And it is this fatal mistake that keeps him from getting home even longer.

Even though they are capable of many great feats, epic heroes are not perfect; they are given flaws that help them to remain more human. One apparent flaw of Odysseus is his arrogance, after he outwits the cyclops Polyphemus he taunts back at him. 

Thus, it can be concluded that Odysseus is an epic hero.

The stickman doodle on Page 5 and the Odysseus doodle on Page 8 were drawn by myself. All other pictures were found from Google searches.