The Odyssey, created by Gareth Hinds is a translation based on Homer’s epic poem, and it is a graphic novel telling the story of Odysseus, a mortal man and the King of Ithaca. He leaves for the Trojan War when his son, Telemachus, is only a baby. Odysseus and his crew confront a lot of problems, but most of time, always find a way to escape them. When his crew makes a fatal mistake though, Odysseus finds himself trapped on the island of Ogygia, and home of the Nymph Calypso. The poem tells of his hardships trapped by Calypso to when he defeats the suitors that infest his home. Odysseus gets help by the gods to help him escape this land in which he is trapped. The gods don’t always help him though. He has struggles with some of these gods on his way back to his homeland where suitors ask for his wife’s hand in marriage: due to Odysseus appearing dead to many. Through this hardship, Odysseus expresses many values in the Odyssey to himself and his comrades: suggesting that he is a hero. A hero in modern times is considered to be a person with exceptional courage, achievements, and noble qualities according to merriam-webster.com. Two values truly show that he is a hero for our times: his great leadership through tough times and his great use of self-control.
Odysseus encounters many hardships along the way of returning home, and even when he arrives home, but no matter the hardship Odysseus shows exceptional leadership to the people he leads, showing a great quality for a hero in our times. One of these situations is shown when Odysseus and his men get trapped in the cave of Poseidon’s son, the cyclops Polyphemus. When Polyphemus realizes that Odysseus and his men are trapped in his cave, he has the intention to eat every one of them. Odysseus knows that he will not stop no matter what they do, and he’ll never let them go: After devouring two of my men, the cyclops lay down to sleep.
He [does] not fear us, for even if we could kill him, we could not possibly move that giant stone. We [are] trapped (98). Odysseus then knows the only thing to do is to devise a plan to escape the cave with his crew. Odysseus comes up with the plan after four of his men are devoured, but he wants to make a flawless plan that will get as many of his crew out that he possibly can. Odysseus follows through with the plan after two more of his crew are devoured: first he gives Polyphemus the strong wine. Polyphemus seems to like the wine and wants to give a Odysseus a gift: Your gift, [Odysseus], is that I will eat you last! (101). This truly highlights that Odysseus needs to make the plan right, or Polyphemus would truly kill them in the harshest way. The wine makes Polyphemus fall asleep, and gives Odysseus time to poke his eye with a sharpened hot log. This causes him to scream in pain, calling Odysseus by his given name, Nobody: Nobody! Nobody’s trying to kill me! (104).
When no one responds do to Odysseus’ trickery, Polyphemus finds the boulder blocking the exit and moves it: this was Odysseus’ plan. He and his crew also have to get past the cyclops, and so they attach themselves to the bottom of the Polyphemus’ fleecy rams. This allows them to slip right past him, and allowing them to escape. Although some of his men die, Odysseus acts as quickly as he can to form a perfect plan that allows most to escape unharmed. This truly shows that Odysseus is a great leader and is never willing to give up on him and his comrades, and he is always willing to lead even under the worst of circumstances. Another example of Odysseus’ great leadership is shown when Odysseus has to confront Scylla. Odysseus knows that Scylla, the six-headed monster, will kill and devour six of his men. Odysseus also knows that fighting back against the creature won’t pay off, and all the creature would do is continue to devour his men. Odysseus asks if he can defeat Scylla, Circe responds, Stubborn old campaigner, put that idea out of your mind. She is too terrible by far. If you stop to fight, she will take six more [of your men]. No, tell your men to row for their lives. That is your only chance (138).
Odysseus chooses to listen to Circe’s warning words and keeps the crew in the dark about the creature: this is because it would cause them to freeze up allowing more of his men to get devoured by Scylla. Even though he knows he can’t defend his men entirely, he still arms himself to possibly protect his men. When Scylla attacks, only six of his men were devoured. Although, it was still six and not zero, and he still has the best intention to protect his men from all that may harm them. Also, the first six men he has no control over, and he does his best to not lose any more. Another example of Odysseus appearing to be a exceptional leader is when he leads his men to victory against the suitors. Odysseus is looking to take vengeance on the suitors for taking advantage of his home and trying to take his wife’s hand in marriage. He wants to make sure that failure isn’t an option. He spends a long time disguised as the stranger who begs and only gives news of Odysseus.
Little did anyone know that he is Odysseus. He tells Telemachus of his return and gets everything ready for the fight. He has every advantage against the suitors, and one example of this is said by Odysseus during the meeting with Telemachus: When it is time, I will give you a nod. At that signal, gather up all of the weapons in the hall and lock them in the store room (168). Odysseus takes every possible outcome and does his best to combat that bad outcome from occuring. When this battle takes place, you can see that the planning pays off. Odysseus takes time to prep, leading his people to victory with those advantages. If he just ran into the fight with his comrades and no advantages, his leadership would look poor do to the vast majority of people against them. He could have lost many more men do to a lack of carelessness. These examples show a clear pattern of Odysseus showing exceptional leadership skills. Leadership, in terms of today, is looked upon as a great trait for that of hero. Some may argue that he isn’t a good leader do to the fact that he loses many men. In some of these situations, he can’t prevent losing some men, but instead makes sure that he can save as many, if not all, of his men from danger. This shows Odysseus to be a great leader and a hero for our times.
Odysseus has many points in the epic poem when he could have ran straight into conflict or could have been reckless, but he takes that and does just the opposite. Odysseus’ great use of self control in these situations help him to being a great hero for our times. One example of this heroic trait is shown when Odysseus takes his time to strike against Polyphemus. Odysseus knows when Polyphemus eats two of his men that he’s be trapped, but he takes time to think of a plan that would help him and his crew escape with as little casualty as possible: [Odysseus] racked [his] brain for a plan that would let us escape alive from the clutches of that brute (99). If Odysseus were to simply attack Polyphemus without self-control to think of a flawless plan: he would have lost many lives.
This is bad in itself, but they also wouldn’t have been able to move the boulder. This could lead to starvation and more death. Odysseus’ self-control in this situation keeps him from being reckless which would not make him a hero for our times. Secondly, Odysseus appears as the stranger for a good amount of the epic poem. This is to make sure that he is concealed from the suitors and even the people that he knows. This gives him the time he truly needs to plan against the suitors. Odysseus then comes out of the stranger to Telemachus, who will help him with his plan. Odysseus says, No questions yet [Telemachus]. I must make a plan to slay the vermin who infest my palace [. . .] (167).
This quote truly shows that he wants to make a perfect plan, and this is shown because he will not even take questions from his son that he’s been away from for so many years. He’s so set on making a perfect plan that he completely ignores his son’s possible questions. He wants to make sure the suitors pay as soon as possible with a perfect plan and no room for failure. After the meeting with Telemachus, Odysseus goes back into the form of the stranger. This shows that Odysseus is truly using self-control and, like he said, make a plan to slay the [suitors] who infest my palace. Odysseus even goes into his home as the stranger and sees what the suitors do to others and his very own wife. Even when, he still keeps to his character. This truly shows that Odysseus is wanting the advantages and using self-control, and making him look even more like a hero for our times. Lastly, during the fight against the suitors, Odysseus comes across two innocent men that were within his home during the time he was away. One of the men is the bard, Phemius, and another man named Medon the herald.
Both of these men do nothing to throw down the name of Odysseus. Neither of them take advantage of his wife or the vast amount of food offered. Odysseus could have killed them along with the rest of the suitors and not hear their pleas, but he did hear their pleas: King Odysseus, I [Phemius] throw myself on you mercy. I am a minstrel, gifted by the gods with song. I never wanted to come here but was forced by the suitors (226). Telemachus also stands by their pleas saying, Don’t kill him! [Phemius] speaks truly (226). This shows exceptional self-control in Odysseus based mainly on the fact that he could ignore them and just kill them. Instead though, he takes time to hear them out and spare them due to keeping honor to Odysseus’s name. With all of these pieces of evidence along with many other examples of his exceptional self-control, I can conclude that Odysseus having this trait helps him look like a hero. This is also the case for our times, self control in the modern day is much valued in a hero, and since Odysseus has this and shows it often he looks like a hero for our times.
Odysseus being a hero in our times is quite a hard thing to distinguish on both sides as what he is more of, but his great self control and his great leadership truly shine a light on him being a great hero and role model for our times in the United States. Both of these qualities are looked for in people of our times. A hero is a person of exceptional noble qualities, courage and achievements. Odysseus has many noble qualities, and two being his self-control and leadership. Odysseus also is mainly recognised for contributing in the victory of the Trojan War and his story. He goes through many hardships with the gods and pays vengeance to the people that take advantage of his wife and his home. He also shows courage in the many things he does to make it back to his home and fight when he gets there. Odysseus shows all the traits of being a great hero in modern times, and he truly is one.
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