Odysseus: A True Hero The daydreaming lifeguard is brought back to reality by the frantic screams of a small boy. Before his brain can even assess the situation, he feels his body flying through space. He doesn’t see the boy resurface, and he feels as if gravity isn’t pulling him down fast enough. His body glides into the water, he grabs the boy, and pulls him back out of the water, pushing on his chest until the boy stops coughing and quietly utters, “Thanks. ” A lifeguard, and many other people in the world are considered heroes.
But why are they heroes? Because a hero is a person who makes a positive impact on others’ lives by overcoming personal challenges, which is what many of those around us are, a hero. Even in literature, heroes are abundant. One such is Homer’s The Odyssey’s main character, Odysseus, who is heroic because of his use of his physical strength and because of his incredible courage. Odysseus is someone who could be called a real hero because he overcomes personal challenges using his physical strength.
While accounting what happened after three of his men ate the flower of the Lotus Eaters, Odysseus recalls, “I drove them, all three wailing, to the ships, ties them down under their rowing benches, and called the rest: ‘All hands aboard; come, clear the beach and no one taste the Lotus, or you lose your hope of home’” (658). To drag three grown men, who were also very strong, onto a ship against their will and tie them up would have been a great physical challenge for Odysseus.
The story says, “All three wailing,” meaning they were fighting against Odysseus, which makes his challenge seem all the more difficult. Odysseus’ brute strength, used in order to save his men, is illustrated at that time, and proves he is indeed a hero. Later in the story, while preparing to escape Polyphemus’ cave, Odysseus says, “I tied them silently together… then slung a man under each middle one to ride there safely… I took the woolliest ram… and hung myself under his kinky belly… with fingers twisted deep in sheepskin ringlets for an iron grip.
So, breathing hard, we waited until morning” (667). To hang upside down all night must have taken incredible endurance. Odysseus was strong from other physical feats in The Odyssey, but this must have been a great test of stamina for him, and it is beyond the ability of even his own men. A hero is someone who makes a positive impact on others’ lives by overcoming personal challenges, and Odysseus proves himself a hero by saving lives. Odysseus does so by enduring and overcoming the challenge of hanging upside down the entire night.
The fact that Odysseus would do this to help his men escape is an excellent example of why Odysseus is a hero. Besides his physical strength used to save his men, Odysseus’ heroism is developed through his courage. While waiting for Teiresias, the blind prophet, to arise from Hades, Odysseus is fighting off ghosts. Odysseus recollects, “Now the souls gathered… from every side they came and sought the pit with rustling cries… meanwhile I crouched with my drawn sword to keep the surging phantoms from the bloody pit till I should know the presence of Teiresias” (675-676).
Odysseus could be considered a hero here because despite his fear, he keeps enduring and continues defending the pit from the persistent souls. A hero is a person who makes a positive impact on others’ lives by overcoming personal challenges, so by his bravery, Odysseus overcomes his challenge of the souls at Hades and saves his men yet again, proving he is indeed a hero. Odysseus’ unyielding courage is seen throughout The Odyssey, and is one of the many reasons he is seen as heroic.
Another example of Odysseus’ bravery, or the ability to confront fear, is when he is preparing his men to evade Charybdis, the ravaging maelstrom, as he says, “Well I walked up and down from bow to stern, trying to put heart into them, standing over every oarsmen, saying gently, ‘Friends, have we never been in danger before this? Did I not use my nerve, and use my wits to find a way out for us’” (682). Here, as Odysseus encourages his men for what is to come, he shows true courage because even though he is frightened himself, he puts on a strong face for his men.
In real life, a fire chief is much like Odysseus in the way that although he knows everyone, including himself is fearful, he must be valiant and prepare for the danger to come. In this same way, Odysseus musters his courage and is a true picture of bravery. Odysseus is truly heroic not only because of his great physical strength, but because of his genuine courage. Odysseus, the true hero of The Odyssey, can be looked up to as a hero because of his valiance and his might.
One example of when Odysseus uses his strength to display heroicness is when he forces three of his men onto the ship when escaping the Lotus Eaters’ island. Odysseus’ heroism is exemplified when he uses his courage to get ready to face Charybdis, despite his fear. Odysseus is much like that lifeguard – he had great courage, and uses his physical strength to overcome his challenges. He was someone who made a huge positive impact on others around him by overcoming his personal challenges, which makes Odysseus a hero.