Odysseus: Not Just Another Hero In Homer's epic poem, The Odyssey, Odysseus possesses the qualities of compassion

and patience, ability of human weakness and love for his family, which qualify him as an epic hero. Odysseus constantly expresses love for his family throughout The Odyssey. As Odysseus finally arrives home and sees his son for the first time in twenty years, Homer writes, "Held back too long, the tears ran down his cheeks as he embraced his son"ン (931). This clearly demonstrates that, Odysseus, a man capable of murder and deception, still retains the ability to shed tears of happiness and love for his son. Just as any true loving and caring father, Odysseus openly weeps upon his return to meet his son after a long business trip. Also describing Odysseus and Son's meeting, Homer says, "So helplessly they cried, pouring out tears, and might have gone on until sundown"ン (931). Once again, Odysseus acts out of true emotion and compassion; in fact, acting stays uninvolved during Odysseus' family time. The love Odysseus shows is true and totally genuine marked by no falsehood; no once could do a better job of evidencing it. When Odysseus confronts Calypso about his departure from his role as her captive, she realizes that he only flatters her and tells him she knows that "you wanted her forever, the bride for whom you pine every day"ン (893). This demonstrates that Odysseus's love is so strong that, even when an effort is made to conceal it, it lies plainly for all to see. Odysseus reveals the one emotion that remains rare on his journey, love, but in the instances that it is visible, it is strong and genuine, proving himself a man of great love. Ability of human weakness, a quality present in many heroes, comprises Odysseus throughout the epic. When Homer tells of Odysseus's struggle to return home, he writes that, "While he fought only to save his life, only to bring his shipmates home. But not by will or valor could he save them"ン (890). Plainly, Odysseus remains a mortal man and remains unable to save his shipmates, only able to watch them disappear. Humans alone have such a great amount of conscience and nobility to have the desire to save others from harm. As Father and Son meet for the first time in many years, Homer writes, "Held back too long, the tears ran down his cheeks as he embraced his son"ン (931). Clearly, Odysseus remains human still and retains a great amount of love and passion for his family, a trait not present in animals. Therefore, similar to all humans, when people he cares deeply for confront him, he remains unable to hold back tears and emotion. When describing the Muses voices, Odysseus declares, "The lovely voices in ardor appealing over the water made me crave to listen, and I tried to say "˜Untie me!' to the crew, jerking my brows"ン (919). Clearly, Odysseus contains a desire to break free, to see them, to hear them, and as a human Odysseus yearns to fulfill his cravings. Despite his clear human shortcomings and weaknesses, Odysseus remains an epic hero; human weaknesses are a necessity for an epic hero. Compassion and patience constitute much of Odysseus, a complex man and hero. As Odysseus welcomes the role of father figure, he declares, "This is not princely to be swept away by wonder at your father's presence"ン (931). Despite being gone for twenty years, Odysseus returns as a father ready to teach and as a man patient with his pupil's mistakes. Upon hearing the young son's mistake, the father prepares to point him in the correct direction and encourage him. During Odysseus's stay with Calypso, Homer tells how "sweet days of his lifetime were running out in anguish over his exile, for long ago the nymph had ceased to please"ン (892). This clearly demonstrates that Odysseus's captor, Calypso, did not function in the same role as Penelope did. As a result, Odysseus, always compassionate and caring to those whom he is close to, keeps quiet and only Homer tells of his pain. When Odysseus and Penelope finally come together, Homer explains, "A smile came now to the lips of the patient hero Odysseus"ン (944). The tale winds to a close and it remains clear now that even Homer believes this about Odysseus. Through his actions and Homer's descriptions, it stays steadfastly clear that patience and compassion around loved ones comprise much of Odysseus's character. Work Cited Homer. Odyssey. Trans. Robert Fitzgerald. Elements of Literature. Ed. Robert Sime. Austin: Rinehart and Winston, 2000. 889-947.


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