Loyalty in Homer's Odyssey Essay Example
Heroes are common within stories, and often need to solve problems, and offer solutions. Heroes often possess bravery and leadership skills, and they get praised for their strong talents. No matter how strong and powerful someone may be, it is more difficult to do things alone. A clear example of this is shown in Homer’s “The Odyssey.” where conflict supports the central idea that even the greatest heroes need loyalty.
The central idea that heroes need loyalty is first depicted within “The Odyssey” when in book nine Odysseus’s men trust Odysseus when landing upon the island of the Cyclopes, even though Odysseus caused him and his crew great danger. This included going into Polyphemus’s cave uninvited and taking his things without permission, which would anger him, and cause him to punish them for their wrongdoings. After Odysseus’s crew makes a safer proposal of just taking what they wanted from Polyphemus’s cave and leaving, Odysseus dismisses it, “Ah, how sound that was! Yet I refused. I wished to see the caveman, what he had to offer” (Homer 900). As a result, Polyphemus ate six of the men. Yet, they still helped to escape by creating a spear to stab Polyphemus’s eye, Odysseus chopped a six-foot section of a pole and set it out before his men, who scraped it when it was smoothed (Homer 904). This example of conflict supports the central idea since, despite Odysseus getting all of them into trouble, his crew still helped Odysseus to escape from Polyphemus’s cave.
Heroes needing loyalty can also be represented within book twelve of “The Odyssey'' when Odysseus and his crew come across sirens, whose voices draw people closer to them. Odysseus is tied by his men to prevent him from trying to follow the siren’s voice, “I tried to say untie me! to the crew, jerking my brows; but they bent steady to the oars'' (Homer 933). This example of conflict supports the central idea because, if Odysseus’s men hadn’t been there to tie Odysseus and prevent him from leaping off the boat to follow the sirens, he could have died.
The last instance of heroes requiring other’s loyalty is seen in book 23, when we are told after 20 years of patiently waiting, Penelope plans to marry one of the suitors so she can settle the conflict, "You found no justification for yourselves—none except your lust to marry me. Stand up, then: we now declare a contest for that prize. Here is my lord Odysseus’s hunting bow. Bend and string it if you can" (Homer 945-946). This example of conflict supports the central idea because Penelope told the suitors whoever won the contest would be her new husband, but she knew that only Odysseus could string a bow through 12 axe-helve sockets. This shows her being loyal because if the man was Odysseus, she would finally have protection, but if he wasn't, she could continue to hold off her marriage.
Odysseus’s actions within “The Odyssey” is a perfect example that shows even the greatest heroes need loyalty, like the loyal actions of Penelope holding off her marriage to the suitors, and Odysseus’s men’s endless support. These all led to the reclaiming of his kingdom. Homer’s use of conflict throughout the story was important for the central idea’s development. Though Odysseus is perceived as a hero, his achievements would never have been possible without the loyalty of his wife, and crew.