In the Book 10 Odysseus faced quite a number of exciting adventures, some of which brought him within an inch of death. The variety of challenging circumstances which the main character had to struggle in this part of the poem was sure to reveal a lot about the Odysseus’s personality. One may make some conclusions on the matter of Odysseus’s character after having come across the very first challenge to which the author has subjected Odysseus and his mates.
The circumstances were the following: the main character and his crew came to the island of Aeolus, who was the ruler of the wind. They were hospitably greeted by the king of the island and when they were to sail away, Aeolus gave Odysseus the most useful present possible. It was a wind, which was to help them to reach their native land. The wind was trapped in the sack and the members of Odysseus’s crew suspected that the sack contained gold and silver which the king had given their captain as a present. When Odysseus fell asleep, his crew undid the sack and released the wind. As it was not the right moment for releasing the wind and no necessary arrangements in order that the ship would have taken the right course had been made, the ship sailed back to the island of Aeolus. The reaction of Odysseus when he woke up and saw what had happened was as follows: “I bore it all, held firm, hiding my face, clinging tight to the decks while heavy squalls blasted our squadron back again to Aeolus’ island, shipmates groaning hard” (Homer, 215). It seems that this episode shows Odysseus from the positive side. Judging by his reaction, this man possessed considerable courage and endurance which helped him to withstand such a cruel twist of fate. Indeed, could have reached their native land where they were so longing to return if not for the unworthy behavior of Odysseus’s crew. However, the main character neither plunged in despair nor became hysterical or something. Instead he concentrated on what was going on and lived with the fact that they were returning to the sort of “starting point” – a thought which normally evokes despair and anger with the circumstances in a man. The author also mentioned that the shipmates of the main character “groaned hard” which proves that the captain possessed much stronger character if compared to his crew.
Another bright episode of this part of the poem which gives the reader plenty of facts that help to get better understanding of Odysseus’s nature took place seven days after the misfortune with the present of King Aeolus. After having left the island of King Aeolus, who had got angry with them for having neglected his present, Odysseus and his shipmates came to the Laestryggonian land. They found quite a convenient harbor there and all the captains of other ships which were part of Odysseus’s squadron did not hesitate to steer their ships in the cove. Odysseus however thought carefully and chose the position from where he was able to see, what was going on in the harbor while his ship remained invisible from the harbor because of the rocks surrounding it. There he anchored his ship. This characterizes him as a thoughtful man and wise captain.
Three men from Odysseus’s crew went to scout what kind of people lived on these lands. Unfortunately, they turned out to have come to the place where cruel race of giants who called themselves Laestrygonians lived. The giants killed those who came to them and rushed to the sea to kill those who were on ships. They were throwing huge rocks at the ships and at people that tried to escaped so that no one of those whose ships were in the harbor managed to save his life. Odysseus who had previously concealed his ship behind the rock not only saved his crew by his precautiousness but also showed himself as a good leader who did not panic at the sight of the cruel slaughter that took place next to them and gave an order to his crew to sail away: “I pulled the sword from beside my hip and hacked away at the ropes that moored my blue-proved ship of war and shouted rapid orders to my shipmates: “Put your backs in the oars – now row or die!” (Homer, 218). Having left other members of his squadron to die may hardly seem an act of bravery from the part of Odysseus. However, in such circumstances there was no way to help those who were attacked by the giants. And the decision to leave in such situation indicates such traits of character as resolution and moral strength.
The cases discussed in this analysis indicate Odysseus as a clever man and a good leader. One may add as well that in most situations he acted quite bravely and manfully showing a strong character and ability to cope with life difficulties. After all, that is what the main character of an epic poem should be.
Homer, Robert Fagles. The Odyssey. London: Penguin Group, 1997. Print.