Odyssey also has other characters that also show their own
ways to be admired, as well as serving as ways for Odysseus’ courage to grow
further. Odysseus’ crew is an example of the latter; they mistrust Odysseus and
show an internal conflict that blocks Odysseus from getting home despite being
less obvious dangers. They betray him by ruining one of his chances to get home
through Aeolus, and in their final moments, cause their ship to be destroyed
and the rest of them besides Odysseus to be killed by feasting on the sun god Hyperion’s
cattle. To further Odysseus’ character even more, the suitor Antinous serves as
a foil to Odysseus; back in Ithaca, he plots to kill Telemachus, as well as
steal away Penelope. He is meant to be a cruel and unsympathetic character,
much like the opposite of Odysseus, and in the end of The Odyssey, he is the first suitor to die before Odysseus
slaughters the rest of them. For the former part of characterization,
Telemachus serves as the viewpoint of back in Ithaca as well as having his own
journey to find out if his father is dead or alive. It is through this that
Telemachus proves himself worthy of being Odysseus’ son by showing his own form
of courage at a young age, despite not being a war hero. Penelope, Odysseus’
wife, is also renowned for staying faithful to Odysseus despite having a
multitude of suitors desiring her hand, as well as believing in him for being
alive when most believed him to be dead. The gods, whether against Odysseus or
with Odysseus, also serve their own form of characterization, with Athene being
the goddess to help Odysseus along and Poseidon being the god to prevent
Odysseus from getting home. Athene and Poseidon, despite their opposing views
on Odysseus, both serve their purpose in the story with their own parts in the
story shown as they attempt to sway Mount Olympus in their favor. In the end,
it is Athene who prevails with getting Odysseus home, while Poseidon loses his sway
over the land-bound Odysseus. It is these characters that show their own marks
of heroism that allow Odysseus to prevail even further as a hero of Greek
mythology; even a hero can depend on others for help.

            In the story, there are often times where the crew has a
feast or is presented with a feast. This is prominent in the Island of the
Lotus Eaters where the crew must stay away from the honeyed lotus or be
addicted to its effects, there is the banquet that Circe puts out after turning
Odysseus’ men into animals, and there is the fateful part where the crew feasts
on the sun god Hyperion’s cattle, causing them all to be vanquished by Zeus and
leaving Odysseus to get home all by himself. These feasts are a symbol; they
are meant to represent the indulgence that one can get out of life, whether
through sin or self-care. It is also meant to show that overindulgence can
result in dire consequences; consequences that befall part of or all of
Odysseus’ crew, but the indulgence never overtakes Odysseus himself. Odysseus
knows when and how to take life at its finest, but not in excess quantities
like his crew, showing a truly admirable aspect of him as he knows how to
control himself. The sea, the area where Odysseus spends much of his story,
represents danger as most of Odysseus’ trials come from or on the sea. Monsters
like sirens, Scylla and Charybdis lie in the sea, and Poseidon has total
control over the sea, allowing him to have access to tormenting Odysseus
throughout his journey. Nevertheless, Odysseus braves all of these trials when
most people would give up at the point he reaches.

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            What makes Odysseus a true hero is his motivation
throughout the story of The Odyssey;
his homeland of Ithaca, where everything Odysseus treasures waits for him after
the events of the Trojan War. All of Odysseus’ motivation all hinges on home;
he wants to see his family, he wants to see his kingdom, he wants to see his
people, and he wants to see everyone safe. The key to a protagonist’s heroism lies
within their motivations, and Odysseus is no exception as he tries to make his
way home. When you think of home, you generally think of a place where you’re
safe, secure, and free from the rest of the world and all of its troubles.
Odysseus has gone through a long and strenuous journey that has put stress on
him, and to relieve stress, he wants to be home. He refers to Ithaca as the
destination he aims for, and that is where his home lies. Along with this
symbolism lies within Odysseus’ bow, the bow that was used close to the climax
of the story when Penelope says she will choose her suitor if they can “string it most easily and send his arrow
through each one of twelve axes” (290). None of the suitors can even string
the bow, but Odysseus strings it easily and fires it through the axes with a
prayer to Apollo; a religious trait most admirable in the Greek times where the
gods were to be respected. The bow represents Odysseus as above the common man;
a trait of heroism that is often found in demigods and gods alike, neither of
which Odysseus is despite being only human himself. He is able to accomplish a
feat that no one else could, and then test his skill for the one he loves most
of all. This is the final test Odysseus had to face before he could take revenge
on the selfish suitors that took his home from him, also explaining why he had
to dress and act like a beggar, for his enemy had invaded his home, the
destination he had aimed for throughout the whole journey. Once he passes the
test of being able to string his bow and fire it, he is then able to rightfully
claim his title as the king of Ithaca, and strike down the ones who believed that
they owned his domain by default. It is also the very same bow that fells the
first suitor Odysseus lays eyes on, being the cruel Antinous, as “the arrow struck Antinous in the throat,
and the point went clean through his neck” (300). It is that moment where
Odysseus proves himself as a true hero, and finally receives the reward he had
been trying to work for throughout the story; his home and family.


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