Masks And Motives: Odysseus's Complex Personality

1462 Words 6 Pages
Masks and Motives: Odysseus’s Complex Personality A man far removed from hearth and family for close to twenty years attempts to recover his nostos. It’s an age old tale that has been revised and retold thousands of times, but at its core it is still relatable to life today. Everyone, no matter how young or old, has searched for the place where they feel they belong. In Odysseus’s case, he was trying to find his beloved wife in Ithaka and reclaim his rule over his kingdom. He is renowned as a great and wise leader, but his actions contradict this time and time again. While Odysseus’s reputation may precede him, he often proves himself unworthy of the eminence associated with his name. He also has a nasty habit of testing the fidelity of his …show more content…
While the seasoned soldiers who accompanied Odysseus wanted to take some food from the kyklops’s cave and leave with their lives, Odysseus decided to wait for the kyklops. Whether this was due to Odysseus’s extreme arrogance (believing that he could beat any foe) or his lack of foresight (never imagining that anyone would dare break the hospitality demanded by Zeus), the audience may never be able to determine; however, his actions led to almost all the men who ventured inland with him to perish in horrific ways. After blinding the kyklops and escaping the island with a few members of the kyklops’s herd, Odysseus had the gall to “bait the beast again” (9. 538) after his crew warned him against it. The arrogance Odysseus shows here is ill befitting the seasoned warrior and renowned king of Ithaka he is rumored to be. This is one of the many instances in this epic where readers see the disparity between the ideal that Odysseus is supposed to represent, the wise king and experienced warrior, and the reality that is the human condition. Humans as a species are imperfect. We get jealous, act irrationally, and we can be a bit too prideful for our own good. Just like Odysseus. He is not a god and …show more content…
He also clearly cared for his crew. His arrogance, hypocrisy, and lack of foresight are not excused by these positive qualities. Odysseus time and time again puts his crew in unnecessary danger and questions the fidelity of others when he has been unfaithful. Odysseus is renowned both in ancient Ithaka and today as a hero and great warrior, but the people who worship him as this figure rarely take into account his follies. His crew is dead mostly due to his folly. His pride led to his long estrangement from home more than bad weather did. He was unfaithful to his wife, and he massacred the best of the young men in Ithaka. Odysseus was not the god-like man people claim him to be, and that’s okay. These flaws in his character show him to be more human and they make him more relatable to the reader. A character who is perfect and god-like is intimidating to read about and unrealistic. As humans we are deeply flawed. It is part of human nature to act because of emotions like desperation, rage and curiosity. Everyone has made mistakes due to not thinking decisions through. When Odysseus makes mistakes, the readers can imagine themselves doing similar things because they understand the motivation behind the decisions he makes. His lack of perfection is what makes this story just as relatable now as it was in Homer’s time, because we are all human and we all have

Related Documents

Related Topics