The Greek Ideal Odysseus

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The world of Ancient Greece was one of fate, war, and a fame. That being said, there wasn’t much predictability for the people of Greece. But one thing that was consistently true and reliable was the definition of a Greek ideal and how to embody it. Odysseus was the Greek ideal because he embodied all that Greek culture was through physical and emotional character traits.

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The first way that Odysseus embodies the Greek ideal is through how cunning he is. When Odysseus is struggling to return to Ithaca after being at sea, he faces many challenges nd setbacks on the way. He and his crew encounter a blind Cyclops: son of Poseidon, Polyphemus. After they are caught stealing food on the mainland of the island, the cyclops becomes angry and eats two of Odysseus men. Odysseus has to find a way to escape without the cyclops noticing. In book 9, Odysseus tells his men to cover themselves in sheeps wool to be able to escape right under the cyclops nose. Odysseus gets the cyclops drunk and Polyphemus asks Odysseus his name. Odysseus tell the Polyphemus, Cyclops, thou askest me of my glorious name, and I will tell it thee; and do thou give me a stranger’s gift, even as thou didst promise. Noman is my name, Noman do they call me??”my mother and my father, and all my comrades as well. Even though Odysseus will eventually tell the Cyclops his real name out of pride, this moment of quick thinking saved Odysseus from being cursed before his men got off the island.

The next way Odysseus embodies the Greek ideal is because he is loyal. After being stranded at sea after the Battle of Troy, his main focus is to return to Ithaca and see his wife Penelope and son. Odysseus and his crew hear of sirens or Charybdis who can enchant men with their songs which would cause them to stay with the Charybdis and never return to their wives and families. Odysseus main goal is to return home to Ithaca and his family. In book 12, Odysseus seeks to find a way to avoid being entranced by the sirens, He says, So she spoke, but I made answer and said: `Come, I pray thee, goddess, tell me this thing truly, if in any wise I might escape from fell Charybdis, and ward off that other, when she works harm to my comrades. This shows how Odysseus is loyal and will do whatever is required to return to his family.

The last reason Odysseus embodies the Greek ideal is because he accepts his mortality. Throughout the entire story, we see Odysseus fight to change his fate or haggle with the gods to get home to Ithaca. But we never see Odysseus try to become immortal. When he is on the island with Calypso, she offers him immortality and the chance to live on the island with her forever. Earlier in the story, Odysseus travels to the underoworld and meets Achieles. Achieles says, I would rather be a slave on earth to the poorest farmer, than be a king to the breathless. Achieles explains to Odysseus that fame means nothing in the underworld, regardless of the merit it earns you on earth. When asked if he would like to be immortal, Odysseus declines the offer. Calypso tells Odysseus all of the wonderful things he could have with immortality and he still chooses to be moral. In Greek culture, mortality is accepted and seen as a gift. The trials of living and understanding the importance and preciousness of everyday were of much greater value to them than being immortal.

Odysseus is the Greek ideal because he embodies all that Greek was through physical and emotional characteristics. Through the text we see that Odysseus was cunning and able to escape his enemies, loyal to his wife and family, and accepted his fate knowing full and well what death held for mortals.

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The Greek ideal Odysseus. (2019, Nov 18). Retrieved November 26, 2022 , from
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