Odysseus couldn't possibly do it all on his own. Like he said, he was just
a mortal man, and like any mortal he needed help at times. Being able to
admit this makes Odysseus an extraordinary man, but none the less just a
man. He experienced the emotional and physical constraints characteristic
of any human.
"All his body was swollen, and the salt water bubbles from mouth
and nostrils...and awful weariness overcame him."(71). His body physically
suffered from all that was demanded of him during his journeys. He was not
immortal, and did experience pain like other people, though it usually took
more to affect him. Odysseus was also known to occasionally make mistakes,
getting himself into tricky situations. After he had safely escaped from
the clutches of the wretched Cyclops, he tormented the mighty beast,
causing him to, "break off the peak of a tall rock and throw it..." (110).
This way, the Cyclops would be blinded and the sailors could make their
escape. Odysseus also displayed the strength of a hero through his epic
journey. He was an, "indomitable man..." (49). He really was incapable of
being subdued or overcome, possessing great amounts of physical strength.
The Odyssey, a journey of determination, patience, and virtue, tells the tail of Odysseus, the main character, on his voyage home to Ithaka after the end of the Trojan War.
Most men would succumb to the exhaustion of twenty years of obstacles, but
not Odysseus. His strength never faltered, and the Greeks figured, "he
must be made of iron..." (143). When sailing away from Calypso's island, he
was informed by Ino that Poseidon would destroy his raft, so he swam for
two nights and two days, an act that would have caused a lesser man to
perish. Odysseus also displays his heroic strength when he returns to
Ithaca. Upon arriving home and finding over a hundred suitors trying to
steal his wife, he took his revenge. With only his son to help, he killed
all the intruders, despite the fact that he was greatly outnumbered. While
intelligence and strength were the main defining qualities of a heroic
Odysseus, he had other important characteristics as well. He was great at
disguises and an exceptional liar. Upon his arrival to Ithaca, he posed as
an old beggar; able to fool even his own devoted wife. He was even able to
conceal his feelings of joy until the right time; a difficult task
requiring much strength for anyone who has had an extended absence from
their home and family. Odysseus was well away of his heroic triumphs,
saying, "I could tell you of more sorrow than theirs, which I have borne
from first to last..." (85). He realized he had experienced more obstacles
in his own life than a normal person, and yet was able to overcome it all.
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Calypso would often observe Odysseus, "...sitting in his usual place on the
stone, wearing out his soul with lamentation and tears." (63). Being held
prisoner on an island made Odysseus very upset. Feelings of helplessness
and missing his family drained him of any heroism and left him very much an
ordinary man, giving in to his emotions. There were times when Odysseus
wanted to give up. Before arriving in the lad of the Phaecians, "he tossed
about for two nights and two days on the rolling waves, always looking for
death." (70). The physical pain he was experiencing under the direction of
Poseidon was too great for even this strong warrior, and he felt death
would be his only relief from earthly suffering. Yet, in this hour of
trial when the entire world seemed to forsake him he managed to survive
once again. He made it to land, where he took shelter in a thicket near a
river. His suffering was far from over though.
While Odysseus has the intelligence and strength of a hero, he
still experiences emotional pain, and struggles with life just as any human
being does. The emotional and physical trauma he experiences are
characteristic of an ordinary man, which keep him human and easier to
relate with. Odysseus was not a perfect hero, and had his bad days. Not
surprisingly, twenty years of hardships took its toll. Sometimes he was
simply, "wretched and miserable..." (62). While on the island with Calypso,
for instance, he really missed his own home, and this left him with a
sorrow that at times could overcome even his strongest heroic qualities.
The average human can relate to Odysseus'
human qualities, while admiring him for the heroic traits they can only
hope to attain, making him so popular. Odysseus has the skills, strength,
and intelligence to qualify him as a hero, yet he still possess the
emotional constraints of a human, which together enable him to survive the
chaotic disorder of his adventure. His journey was rich with people and
places and totally unpredictable, just as life is for everybody. From
ancient Greeks to today's reader, it is easy to commiserate with Odysseus
while at the same time idolize him for dealing with life as it came at him.
From the earliest Greek society to today's modern reader, Odysseus
is ever popular for the heroism he displayed in his adventures, while still
experiencing the human emotions that make him seem more realistic. After
traveling for twenty years, he no doubt became well known, not only for his
accomplishments as a warrior and a hero, but also for his qualities as an
exceptional human being. Odysseus is best known for dealing with the wrath
of gods and goddesses. He dealt with Poseidon, Circe, Calypso, and
numerous others, and was well known on Olympus for this. He was especially
popular with Athena, who cared greatly, "for that glorious man Odysseus."
(37). From the beginning Athena took a special interest in Odysseus,
helping him to return to Ithaca and his family once again. She even refers
to him as "Odysseus Laertiades, prince never unready!" (271). He was
indeed always ready to his obstacles, never faltering under the
difficulties of the tasks and the strain of being away from home. Odysseus
was equally popular among the mortals. When Telemachos was asking about
his father, king Menelaos says, "Dear me, I did love that man." (47). The
Greeks loved Odysseus not only for his ability to survive harsh conditions,
but for his "famous cleverness..."(66). His popularity began as a warrior in
the battle of Troy, where he devised the wooden horse for the secret attack
on the Trojans.