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Odyssey Leadership



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    Leadership is a trait or characteristic that one does not have, but adapts to. A leader is someone who is in charge, and guides and instructs a crew to reach their destination. Leadership is something that you develop overtime from observations and experience. One of the greatest leaders in The Odyssey is Odysseus, because of his ability to make sacrifices, his trust in his men, and his role model-like qualities. Firstly. Odysseus is a good leader because of his ability to make sacrifices. A leader has to be able to give up some things in order to receive more aid or advantages on their journey. While Odysseus plans to leave Aiaia with his crew, Kirke tells him that he will either have to go by Skylla and lose six of his men, or go by Kharbydis and be at a huge risk to lose his whole crew. Kirke says, “… hug the cliff of Skylla, take your ship/through on a racing stroke. Better to morn/six men then lose them all, and the ship, too.” (XII.128-30).

    Odysseus understands that he has to get by these monsters so that they can get back to Ithaka and he knows that he has to sacrifice six me than the whole crew. Another thing that Odysseus has to sacrifice for his men and his journey is his loyalty. On the island of Aiaia, once all of his men had turned into pigs, Odysseus received advice from Hermes, the messenger god. He had told Odysseus, “she will cower and yield her bed-/a pleasure you must not decline,/so may her lost and fear bestead you and your friends…” (X.333-6). Odysseus has to sleep with Kirke to save himself and his men from her powers. He has to sacrifice his loyalty for Penelope to help him complete his journey home. Sacrificing loyalty and some of your dearly beloved crew members are ways that Odysseus exhibits sacrifices for the benefit of his crew while he is leading them back home. A good leader also has trust in his men, something Odysseus expresses throughout the epic. He has faith in them and guides them through the journey, but at the same time he also trusts them enough to give them chances to do things on their own and learn from their mistakes.

    When Odysseus’ men finally convince him to let them stay on the island with Helios’ cattle, after he had been told many times to make sure no to kill or eat them, he makes them swear an oath to promised they wont kill the cattle. “Let this whole company swear me a great oath. Any herd of cattle or flock of sheep here shall go unharmed” (X.381-3). He trusts them enough that he could go off and make sacrifices to the gods and leave them alone with the cattle, even though they were starving and had very little food. He also trusts his men with the bag of winds he was given.

    He purposely doesn’t tell them about what is inside because he trusts that they wouldn’t get looking through his things without permission and temptation wouldn’t take over them. “He wedged the bag under my afterdeck,/lashing the neck with shining silver wire/so not a breath got through” (C. 25-7). He tucks the bag away and trusts that his men wouldn’t be tempted to open it. And even though his men didn’t follow through with either of their tasks, Odysseus still has faith in them and gives them more chances to prove themselves and learn from their mistakes. Trust with his crew with the bag of winds and Helios’ cattle is another way Odysseus exhibits good leadership.

    Lastly, a good leader needs to be a role model. A leader cannot only be someone who is in charge and tells everyone what to do, but he must also be a hero-like figure, someone who their crew looks up to and respects. When they are at the Island of Aiaia and all of his crewmembers were turned into pigs, they had been so incredibly grateful when he had finally saved them. They were overjoyed to see him again. He says, “my crew poured round me when they saw me come-/their faces wet with tears as if they saw their homeland” (X.461-3). They were so happy to see him because they knew that they needed him, and without Odysseus, they wouldn’t have a leader to guide them home. Odysseus also seems to stay in the minds of his old crewmembers, he is never forgotten. When Telemachus goes to talk to Odysseus’ old friend, Menelaus, he tells him all about how great Odysseus was.

    He says, “while I sit at home/sometimes hot tears come, and I revel in them,/or stop before the surfeit makes me shier/and there is o one I miss more than the other/dead I mourn for; sleep and food alike/grow hateful when I think of him. No soldier/took on so much, went though so much as Odysseus” (IV.111-6). Even after Menelaus had gotten home from the war, he still missed his old friend. Odysseus wasn’t a leader of Menelaus, but they fought together and he still stays in Menelaus’ mind, which is a quality that a leader needs to posses, to never be forgotten. His experience with his crew on the island of Aiaia and his old friend Menelaus both show how people look up to him and respect him dearly.

    Throughout his journey, we have learned a lot about Odysseus and his crew, and seeing this from the beginning has let us observe how his leadership qualities have adapted and changed overtime. He has developed into one of the greatest leaders because of his ability to make sacrifices, trust in his men, and role model-like qualities. These leadership qualities will hopefully remain with him throughout the book because he has a special trait that encourages him to lead his crew with determination and care, exemplifying an incredible leader.

    Odyssey Leadership. (2016, Jun 19). Retrieved from

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