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    Why Odysseus Fits the Mold of the Epic Hero in Homer’s The Odyssey

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    An epic hero is one who breaks the mold of a normal human being; he or she fightsagainst all odds to come out on top and often wins just when things are looking very hopeless. Epic heroes know to keep going and never give up. They often go on important quests and travel to the Underworld. Also, they are often favored by the gods, Odysseus fits the mold of an epic hero based on his endurance through a dangerous quest, which took him into the heart of the Underworld, and his close relationship with the gods.

    Odysseus, son of Laertes, is an epic hero because, like other epic heroes, he endures through a treacherous but important quest. In the very beginning of The Odyssey Homer begins telling the story of Odysseus, the “hero who traveled far and wide…and to many towns did he travel” (Homer 3). The following chapters of the book tell about his sufferings during his quest.

    For instance, Homer writes that “(Odysseus) suffered much by the sea while trying to save his own life and bring his men safely home” (Homer 3). Most of this suffering is caused by the sea god, Poseidon, who “torments him by preventing him from ever getting home” (Homer 5). Later, Calypso releases Odysseus from her island persuading him to “start home to (his) own land at once” then warns him by saying, “if only you could know how much suffering is in store before you get back to your own country” (Homer 69). But Odysseus fights through it all just to complete his quest and return home to his family.

    Odysseus is an epic hero because, during his quest, he makes a necessary trip to the Underworld. Odysseus learns he must make this trip from Circe who tells him that he “must go to the house of Hades and of the dread Persephone to consult the ghost” (Homer 142). Then, knowing it is necessary, Odysseus listens to Circe and makes the journey.

    Eventually, he makes his way down into the Underworld where ghosts inform him he has come “down to the house of Hades” (Homer 147). The first thing he does is find the ghost Circe told him to speak with and makes a sacrifice so he can communicate with it. Then he talks to other ghosts like Elpenor, one of his dead crewmember, and his mother, who died form grief without her son. After this, his trip to the underworld ended and he continued on his journey home.

    Odysseus is an epic hero because he has a close relationship with the gods, which is evident by the fact that they seem to value him above other mortals and constantly assist him during his quest. For instance, Athene shows that she favors him when she paves the way for his return by encouraging and strengthening his son, Telemachus. Similarly, she also shows how much she cares when she goes to Zeus and begs him to have pity on Odysseus in his hardships.

    Then Zeus shows that he favors Odysseus by agreeing with Athene and sending Hermes to set him free from Calypso. Also, many times throughout the text, Athene makes Odysseus taller and more handsome so those around him would be impressed and be more likely to help him and later believe he really is Odysseus. Without this respect from the gods, Odysseus may have never been able to complete his quest and return home.

    Without a doubt, Odysseus fits the mold of an epic hero based on his endurance through a dangerous quest, which took him into the heart of the Underworld, and his close relationship with the gods. He endures through a treacherous but important quest. During this quest, he is lead on a necessary trip to the Underworld. And, he has a close relationship with the gods and is favored and helped by them, throughout his quest. Odysseus fought against all odds and won: he has clearly earned his rightful place alongside all the other legendary epic heroes.

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    Why Odysseus Fits the Mold of the Epic Hero in Homer’s The Odyssey. (2022, Dec 10). Retrieved from https://artscolumbia.org/why-odysseus-fits-the-mold-of-the-epic-hero-in-homers-the-odyssey/

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