Theme Of Violence In The Odyssey (Character Analysis Essay Sample)


Some people think that Odysseus is a great hero, but have they ever even considered all of the things that make up a hero? Like, How intelligent a person is, how violent someone is, for what reasons they are that violent, and how he thinks of himself. With all of these reasons plus more, he isn’t that great of a hero. Even if you think about what people’s perspective today is of what a hero should be compared to back when Odysseus was alive, it is pretty different for the most part. With all of these things taken into consideration, Odysseus is not someone that we can look up to as a hero today. 

First of all, you have to think about how intelligent Odysseus is. Odysseus is intelligent some of the time but he doesn’t take into account what some of the consequences could be because of a decision he made. For example, when he was in trouble with the Cyclops he told him who he was before he escaped from the island. At first, he told the Cyclops that his name was nobody. “Nobody-that’s my name. Nobody-/so my mother and father call me, all my friends” (The Odyssey 9.410-411). Telling the Cyclops that his name was nobody was a pretty intelligent thing for him to do, however when he told him who he was, “if any man on the face of the earth should ask you/who blinded you, shamed you so-say Odysseus,/raider of the cities, he gouged out your eye” (The Odyssey 9.559-561), he didn’t realize that his father was Poseidon and he is the God of the sea. The Cyclops now knew Odysseus’ name which was not good for him because he could tell his father and then Poseidon would then hold a grudge against him, which he did. Now sometimes when he is sailing to places Poseidon starts a big storm in the sea causing Odysseus to be thrown off track, thrown off-board, and sometimes even have his men killed or things destroyed. All of this happens because of one mistake that he thought would have been just fine to do. 

Odysseus was a pretty violent person, sometimes for unnecessary reasons, and throughout the book, it seemed to just keep getting worse. A good hero and leader shouldn’t be violent for unnecessary reasons like Odysseus was. For example, all of book 22 was Odysseus killing people who didn’t deserve to die. Sure they weren’t perfect and they did some things they shouldn’t have, but they didn’t do anything that they deserved to die for. It is very inappropriate for him to use this type of violence for almost no reason at all. He killed the disloyal female servants for being disloyal. “‘Now here’s the truth./Fifty women you have inside your house,/women we’ve trained to do their duties well,/to card the wool and bear the yoke of service./Some dozen in all went tramping to their shame,/thumbing their noses at me, at the queen herself!” (The Odyssey 22.445-450) Of course, it was awful for them to betray Odysseus, but they did not deserve to die from that. They deserved to get punished but they didn’t deserve to die. They had such a horrible death too. Before they were killed they had to carry away all of the dead bodies, and some of them were their husbands, scrubbed all of the chairs and tables with sponges to get off all of the blood and any other remains, and lastly, they piled all of the filth up outside. After all of this horrible work was done they were marched outside and hung. All of this was done just because they were disloyal. None of this would have happened if he was a good hero. 

Odysseus’s way of thinking he’s better than everyone else, superior, or his hubris got in the way of them being able to communicate that a team should it also gave Odysseus and his men many consequences. For example in book 9 when Odysseus called his men mutinous fools. “Then I urged them to cut and run, set sail,/but would they listen? Not those mutinous fools;” (The Odyssey 9.50-51) The men are just restless and they don’t deserve to be called names. They don’t really like being called mutinous fools so they aren’t really happy with Odysseus which could affect their relationship with each other. If they don’t like Odysseus then the rest of the trip won’t be the way it should’ve been because they could be holding a grudge against him, refuse to talk to him, and maybe even other things that could be worse. Odysseus was blaming his crew for the attack on the Cicones. Not only did he just blame his men for this one attack, but he blamed his men for multiple other things that he could have been at fault for just as easily. It’s not their fault that they need rest and are starving because they rarely stop for breaks. This and many other things including Odysseus blinding the Cyclops and telling him his name that I mentioned earlier show that his hubris gets in the way. 

What about other people’s different opinions though? Even though Odysseus did good things through his traveling, many of the things he did were selfish, illogical, and unethical. He committed many crimes like adultery, assault, and murder. These are not things that a good leader or hero would do. He blinded Polyphemus, committed adultery with Calypso, and in book 22 he killed at least a dozen people. “But Odysseus aimed and shot Antinous square in the throat/and the point went stabbing clean through the soft neck and out-/and off to the side he pitched, the cup dropped from his grasp as the shaft sank home, and the man’s life blood came spurting out his nostrils-” (The Odyssey 22.12-16) That right there is murder and even if he ended up not dying that is still assault. Sure other people can have their opinions and think that he is a hero and leader but all of the evidence shows that he is most definitely not one.

Odysseus is not a hero. He barely even have anything that proves he is a hero because it can all be proven wrong with evidence as to why he is not one. All of my evidence above shows exactly why he shouldn’t be considered a hero or leader. First of all, he isn’t even that intelligent, he’s a very violent person, his arrogance gets in the way, and does more bad things than he does good. In conclusion, Odysseus is not a hero because of these things and more.

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