Kshithi Bhanu SinghII EnglishSeminar Paper October 25, 2009
What are the constituent attributes of a the greek epic hero? Explicate withreference to Odysseus and Achilles.
To define an epic hero itself possess a challenge as the definition is very wide and includes alot of attributes and characteristics. A general definiton of an epic hero, however, defineshim as an important figure from a history or legend, usually favored by or even partiallydescended from the Gods, but aligned more closely with mortal figures. The hero participates in a cyclical journey or quest, faces adversaries that try to defeat him in his journey, gathers allies along his journey, and returns home significantly transformed by his journey. The epic hero illustrates traits, performs deeds, and exemplifies certain morals thatare valued by the society from which the epic originates. They usually embody cultural andreligious beliefs of the people. Epic heroes have no superpowers, but are smart, brave, andhave fears which they overcome to protect their friends, families, and countries. An epichero can also be a warrior of some sort who performs extraordinary tasks that most finddifficult. The epic hero is not only a warrior and a leader, but also a polished speaker whocan address councils of chieftains or elders with eloquence and confidence.When one talks about classical Greek literature, the epic hero is usually defined in terms of the contrasting characters of Achilles and Odysseus, the most important and central figuresin Homer's grand epic poems
Both these characters representthe Greek notions of what constitutes an epic hero.Form the initial callousness and stubborn almost child - like temper of the demi-godAchilles in the first book of
to the eventual 'humanization' of Achilles in hisinteraction with the greiving Priam, father of Hektor, whom Achilles killed himself, the Iliadshows us what contributes to make Achilles a Greek epic hero. Achilles is a hero in the epicsense, replete with flaws and bad qualities that shape his character, but with passions andconvictions that a reader relates to.
a journey of determination, patience, and virtue, tells the tale of Odysseus, the main character, on his voyage home to Ithaca after theend of the Trojan War. Odysseus goes through many unforeseen trials and tribulations, which exemplify his character.
Odysseus is a fully human character, and his heroismconsists more in his cleverness, boldness and cunning than his martial ability. The 'man of many ways' Odysseus rises above his purely human limitations to achieve a much greater destiny, triumphing over the dangers of war and wandering to come home to his wifePenelope, son Telemachus and his fellow Ithacans.Both these heroes depict the two sides of human nature. They are not perfect and are flawedand fallible. Achilles is at his best when he offers compassion and consolation to Priamwhihc reveals his profound understanding of the human condition. However, at his worst he behaves like a selifsh child while denying to give up on his anger to rejoin the battle and