Odysseus Strength and Weaknesses: Character Analysis Essay

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In Greek Mythology, people describe Odysseus as a godlike person. He struggles with adversity during his sailing, showing his bravery, intelligence, and perseverance. However, the basis of Odysseus is still a man. Therefore he has normal human characteristics. In the battle with the Cyclops Polyphemus, both his godlike and human-like characteristics are shown.

The wisdom of Odysseus is in his survival for ten years of adventure at sea. When fighting against the one-eyed giant, he gave full play to his cleverness. On their way home, Odysseus and his companions stopped at the place where the grass was rich and the sheep fat. They stopped to dock with their companions in order to buy more food. But their host did not seem to welcome them. The giant Polyphemus was not so slow in his wit as he was in his movements. On the contrary, he could see at a glance the purpose of Odysseus's party: 'Are you on business, or roaming around without a goal, like pirates, who risk their lives at sea to bring disaster to other people?' (248) Facing such a strong and cruel opponent, Odysseus kept calm and controlled the grief of losing his companion and the fear of facing the giant. Together with his companions, according to his plan, Odysseus got the Cyclops drunk, poked out the giant's only eye with a sharp piece of wood, hid between the sheep, and finally escaped from the cave. The story makes me think about another ancient example of defeating a giant with wisdom: David and Goliath. David uses his slingshot to knock down Goliath and kill him swiftly. Compared to Goliath’s power, David’s strength is inconsequential. However, he somehow knows that Goliath might have a disadvantage in agility. Moreover, Goliath’s tallness makes it easier to be knocked down with just a minor force at the top of the head according to simple Newtonian Mechanics (although Newton was far behind the era of the Bible). Compared to the story of David, Odysseus also knows the drawbacks of the Cyclops well: he only has one eye and is easy to get drunk. With his strategy and bravery, Odysseus accomplishes the story of defeating the giant, just as David and other heroic characters did.

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The multifaceted character of Odysseus is one of the important factors that distinguish him from other Greek heroes. He not only has the wisdom and bravery of Greek heroes but also has the innocence and loveliness that other Greek heroes do not have. After escaping from the islands of Polyphemus, the Cyclops, to a relatively safe place where the giants could hear him, Odysseus began to shout at Polyphemus, laughing at his foolishness. 'Hey, you, Cyclops! Idiot! The crew trapped in your cave did not belong to some poor weakling. Well, you had it coming! You had no shame in eating your own guests! So Zeus and other gods have paid you back.' (255) It is interesting and impressive that see a well-known hero cursing and mocking his enemies just after escaping from a dangerous situation. Right after that, the classical plot appears just like those in all modern movies we love. The giant is angry, he 'ripped a rock out of the hill and hurled it at us. It landed right in front of our dark prow, and almost crushed the tip of the steering oar.' (255) Then Odysseus stopped talking and hurried to help his companion row away from danger. As a reader who likes watching movies, I cannot imagine how hilarious this plot will be if it is put on the screen. Looking at the artwork Polyphemus hurls a rock at Ulysses' departing ships (Straet, Jan van der), Odysseus does not look afraid or panicked but calm and even laughs, the picture shows the funny side of this scene. But after fleeing the danger, Odysseus, farther away from the island, started shouting at the giant and announcing himself. The scene reminds us of many childhood memories. We seem to see two smart, lovely, and ignorant children fighting and playing. During the fight with Cyclops, Odysseus shows his childish and amusing human side, which makes him look more like a man instead of a god. Odysseus is the representative of Greek heroes in Greek mythology, and he exactly embodies the innocence of Greek mythology.

Odysseus is regarded as a real man in Greek mythology. But, his funny side makes people feel that he is not perfect. These human weaknesses seem to add a touch of humanity to Odysseus on the altar. This may be one of the important reasons why Greek mythology has been passed down for thousands of years. Just imagine, if a perfect hero appears in the eyes of the reader, it really means nothing except worship. But in Odysseus, we still see our own reflections and experiences. Finding something in Greek mythology that resonates with us is perhaps more valuable and meaningful than pure worship.

Work Cited

  1. Homer, and Emily R. Wilson. The Odyssey. W.W. Norton and Company, 2018.
  2. Straet, Jan van der (Netherlandish (before 1600) - Flanders, 1523-1605) (author of design, attr.) [painter]. Polyphemus hurls a rock at Ulysses' departing ships, Story of Ulysses (Odysseus), Set C. c. 1620-1640. Artstor, library.artstor.org/asset/GETTY_GGTAP_1031175527
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Odysseus Strength and Weaknesses: Character Analysis Essay. (2023, July 11). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 26, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/odysseus-strength-and-weaknesses-character-analysis-essay/
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