Odyseus As An Epic Hero
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Odysseus role as an epic hero is modified throughout the epic poem. As Odysseus leaves Troy for home, he is the typical bloodthirsty warrior. During the course of his trek, he undergoes a symbolic death and rebirth. Upon his arrival in Ithaka, the wiser man he has become is evident. The Odyssey is Odysseus story of his journey not only from Troy to Ithaka, but also from bloodthirsty warrior to epic hero. Odysseus begins the tale of his trip from Troy to Phaiakia in Book IX. The beginning of his tale displays the bloodthirsty warrior that left Troy. What of those years of rough adventure, weathered under Zeus? The wind that carried west from Ilion Brought me to Ismaros, on the far shore, A strongpoint on the coast of Kikones. I stormed that place and killed the men who fought. The first lines of Odysseus story display his warrior side. This passage shows how he and his crew landed and immediately went to battle and plundered. Although Odysseus recalls telling his men to stop afterwards and return to the ship, he never really forcibly tried to make the men return. The lack of effort on Odysseus part implies that he did not truly care if the men ransacked Ilion. Due to this greed and bloodlust, nearly a third of each ships crew was lost. This bloodthirsty warrior cared only for battle and blood, instead of his men and his return home. After stopping on the island of Aiaia, the home of Kirke, Odysseus journeys to Hades. This represents a symbolic death for Odysseus. There he must speak with Teirasias to hear the prophets visions for Odysseuss journey home. Teirasias predicts that the journey can take two paths; either a peaceful journey home, or if the crew and Odysseus can not restrain their desires, death and destruction will befall the crew. Odysseus and his crew do not heed Teirasiass warning, and the entire crew save Odysseus is lost at sea. After nine years on Kalypsos island Odysseus finally continues his journey home. The strong god glittering left her as he spoke, And now her ladyship, having given heed To Zeuss mandate, went to find Odysseus In his stone seat to seaward-tear on tear Brimming his eyes. The sweet days of his life time Were running out in anguish over his exile, For long ago the nymph had ceased to please. Though he fought shy of her and her desire, He lay with her each night, for she compelled him. But when day came he sat on the rocky shore And broke his own heart groaning, with his eyes wet Scanning the bare horizon of the sea. Odysseus had begun to lose hope of ever getting home. Kalypso grudgingly gives in to Zeus order and aids Odysseus in obtaining wood for a ship. After nineteen days at sea, he is battered in a vicious storm and washes up half-unconscious, bloody, and naked in Phaiakia. This episode represents a symbolic rebirth for Odysseus. His time of incubation on Kalypsos isle is over and he emerges naked and bloody – like the day he was born. Once he has landed on Phaiakia, Odysseus realizes that he can not continue on as a bloodthirsty warrior, but rather must heed the wisdom passed on to him by those he met in Hades and change his outlook. It is at this point that Odysseus begins to fully comprehend the effects his actions have on those around him, as well as on his future.
Odyseus As An Epic Hero