Years after the Trojan War ended, Odysseus, the Greek hero, has still not reached his home of Ithaca. Most people fear that he is dead. Homer, in his epic poem The Odyssey, charts the story of Odysseus (Latin Ullyses), illustrating that he is being held as a sex captive on an island of Kalypso, the goddess. In addition, Poseidon, the sea god makes the seas rough to delay Odysseus’ journey home. Back home, his wife, Penelope is surrounded by many unwanted suitors who have their eyes of Odysseus’ throne. Odysseus faces numerous potentially fatal situations and overcomes. He achieves these feats through his brilliance. His chances of survival are dampened by his arrogance. However, his great leadership qualities help him overcome the temptations at sea through the waters of Charybdis and Scylla (Landau 3-4). Eventually, his arrival in Ithaca underlines his wisdom and patience traits when he takes the test of the great Bow to prove his identity to Penelope. Although Odysseus largely has positive character traits, he is not perfect. On several occasions, he lets his pride get the better of him. He also engages in an elicit love affair with the Nymph Circe. Despite his follies, he manages to arrive home and reunite with his wife, Penelope. Undoubtedly, Odysseus is not without fault in his character. Odysseus is proud and vain, but it is his courage, and leadership helps him in returning safely to Ithaca and regaining his position.
First, Odysseus shows that he is courageous and principled on a number of occasions throughout the story. Odysseus shows his courage on Circe’s island by planning to go against sea monsters. “She has twelve legs, all writhing, dangling down and six long swaying necks, a hideous head on each, each head barbed with a triple row of fangs, thickset, packed tight-and armed to the hilt with Black Death!” (VII. 98-100). Instead of remaining on the island where there was plenty of food, he resolved to leave the island and tackle Scylla and Charybdis to get back home. This evidence is significant and appropriate because it shows that Odysseus has two paths of action available to him. He has the choice of remaining safely on Circe Island with the welcoming nymph, Circe, or return to his family through a path laden with treacherous oceans and deadly monsters. Odysseus chose the difficult choice between the two. He knows that Scylla is almost invincible. Odysseus is a principled and courageous man. “She hurried toward us, decked in rich regalia. Hand maids following close with trays of bread and meats galore and glinting ruddy wine” (XII.18-20). It illustrates that on the island of Circe, Odysseus and his men are provided with good food and necessary provisions. However, Odysseus’ character shines through because he does not want to be a deserter. This example is important because it shows that Odysseus still holds his principles of family dear. without his outstanding courage, Odysseus would not be able to overcome the obstacles that he faces on his journey home.
Secondly, Odysseus is a servant leader because he leads by example and makes the right choices no matter how difficult they may be. Odysseus is a servant leader because after Zeus had created a storm to lead them to the land of the Lotus-Eaters, he leads by example. “Three of my men tasted it and all they wanted was more. They lost all desire for home. I had to force them back to the ships and tie them down while we made our getaway” (IX.21-23). When Odysseus and his men arrive at this mysterious island, the natives welcome them with the lotus fruit, which is highly intoxicating. Upon eating this fruit, Odysseus’ men lose track of their objective of going back home to Ithaca. However, Odysseus drags his men to the ship and locks them up so that he can get them off the island. He leads by example by not allowing himself to fall prey to the lotus fruit. This example is relevant because Odysseus sets a good example for his men to follow. This attribute underlines his character as a servant leader who is not afraid of getting his hands dirty to perform the duties that are required. Another indication of Odysseus’ leadership trait emerges from his hard work. “But now an enticing sleep came on me, bone-weary from working the vessel's sheet myself, no letup, never trusting the ropes to any other mate” (X.35-37). This passage shows that Odysseus did all the hard work. Despite being tired and weary of sleep, he does his best to guide the ship and protect his men. He is a servant leader because he thrives in serving others and putting their needs and safety before his own. He does not letup and shows great determination to overcome obstacles. This passage is relevant to the characterization of Odysseus as a servant leader because it underlines his commitment to the objectives of his group of travelers. While other leaders may opt to be served, Odysseus takes to the forefront in meeting challenges. Odysseus is a good example of a servant leader. There are several reasons why he qualifies as a servant leader. First, he places the safety and well-being of his followers before his own. He also leads by example even when the task at hand is tiring and difficult to accomplish. Thirdly, he always strives to set a good example to his followers by upholding high principles of duty and responsibility no matter the obstacles that he encounters.
Like all human beings, Odysseus is not perfect and is sometimes overcome by his ego and pride. “When we were a good way out to sea, I could not resist a taunt. I called out, and Polyphemus came to the edge of the seaside cliff. In his fury he tore up a huge boulder and flung it at us” (9. 515-17). Odysseus also highlights pride by being vain about his name. “If someone asks who did this, the name is Odysseus! Raider of cities, took your eye: Laërtês’ son, whose home’s on Ithaca!” (9.526-30). In this passage, He admits that he could not resist taunting the giant Cyclops. Odysseus and some of his men had managed to escape from the clutches of the Cyclops by blinding him and hiding in the underbellies of Cyclops’ goats. Despite not yet being clear of the danger of the giant, Odysseus’ pride prevails upon him to taunt the monster because they had outsmarted it. The significance of the observation on this passage is that it outlines the danger behind Odysseus’ great pride. He places his team in danger because of his need to taunt the Cyclops. He could not resist being pompous about his victory. He also wants the Cyclops to remember his name. This could also be analyzed to indicate that Odysseus is vain and wants recognition. In addition, Odysseus is proud because he thinks so highly of himself even in the face of danger. "Nobody is my name. My father and mother call me Nobody, as do all the others who are my companions" (9.366-367) He says these words in pride despite the impending danger of being eaten by the Cyclops. His words also put his men in great danger. This passage is important because it shows that Odysseus’ pride is so great that it overcomes his fear of the Cyclops. Despite having more of good character traits than bad ones, Odysseus is proud. His pride almost costs him his life. In some occasions, it leads to the death of some of his shipmen.
Homer’s The Odyssey is an epic poem that charts the story of Odysseus as he returns from the battle of Troy to his home in Ithaca. As the story progresses, the character traits of Odysseus emerge from his actions. Like other human beings, he is not faultless, he sometimes lets his pride affect his better judgment, but everything works out for the good in the end. Two of the most dominant character traits are that he is a servant leader and courageous. He is courageous because he leads his men through great obstacles and achieves many triumphs against all odds. He is a servant leader because leads from the front and does all the hard work. He also sets a good example to his shipmen. However, he is also proud, often wanting to get recognition. This behavior places him and his crew in danger on a number of occasions. Undoubtedly, Odysseus’ character traits provide a good subject for personality studies.
Homer., and Richmond Lattimore. The Odyssey of Homer. New York: Harper & Row, 1967. Print.
Landau, Jeff. The Odysseus Complex. NY: Inner Resources Publications, 2005. Print.