The Challenges of Odysseus and how he Overcame Them
The Challenges of Odysseus and how he Overcame Them
What were Odysseus greatest challenges, and how did he overcome them?
Odysseus greatest challenge upon his return to Ithaca from Troy was himself. On several occasions Odysseus ego, god-like attitude and heroic characteristics dictated his actions, and cost him dearly. It was during these travels, other events that threatened his return included a Cyclops named Polyphemus eating Odysseus crew, the Sirens that beckoned to all passers, promising that they would impart to them the knowledge of all events and the mischievous actions of Eurylochus.
Odysseus first major threat was the land of the Cyclopes. These people are rustic, one-eyed barbarians who neither cultivate crops nor have any body of laws. They have no assemblies because they don’t obey any decisions. When the Cyclops returned to his cave, he demanded to know who Odysseus and his men were. In answer to this, the Cyclops, whose name was Polyphemus, grabbed two members of the crew and ate them. Odysseus dared not kill Polyphemus because they would be stuck in the cave, unable to move the boulder away from the entrance. Eventually when Odysseus blinded the Cyclops, the boulder was open and they escaped. This event is a major threat to Odysseus return to Ithaca due to his crew slowly being eaten. If not for his intelligent approach to the event, himself and his entire crew may have been killed.
The second major danger Odysseus encounters is the Sirens. Those two women beckoned to all passers, promising that they would impart to them the knowledge of all events. In order to prevent their seduction by the Sirens, the crew plugged their ears with beeswax. Odysseus left his ears unplugged and was tied to the mast. This event was a major threat to Odysseus, as the sirens by their lovely voices lure sailors to their deaths. Also if Sailors approach the Sirens too closely in their attempt to learn the future from these prophetesses, they will perish. Not only would a few sailors have died if Circe had not told Odysseus of this danger, but the whole crew and all ships would have gone down.
The third major danger Odysseus encounters upon return to Ithaca is himself. Odysseus ego, heroic characteristics and sometimes god-like attitudes threaten his return. Gloating in his cleverness, Odysseus could not resist shouting out his real name to Polyphemus, who was staggering about on the shore when he and his men escaped from the cave. Now that Polyphemus knew who his enemy was, he could pray to his father, Poseidon, asking him to give Odysseus as much trouble as possible. Poseidon did eventually cause Odysseus troubles, which could have been avoided if he kept his ‘mouth shout’.
Once leaving Polyphemus, Aeolus presented him with a leather bag that held captive all the destructive winds. Summoning a breeze, Aeolus saw them off on a trip which should have taken them directly to Ithaca. Ten days of sailing, they were in sight of their native land. At this point, Odysseus made the error of falling asleep. The crew, who had been growing increasingly curious about the leather bag Odysseus always kept at his side, took this opportunity to see if they were being cheated out of some gifts. As the bag closed, the winds rushed out with a blast. Odysseus woke in time to find Ithaca fading rapidly out of sight as the ships were buffeted by the winds. The ships managed to stay together and were all blown back to Aeolus’ island. This event could have been avoided if Odysseus trusted his men. His love and determination to return to Ithaca was so important to him, that he once again placed himself in front of the journey, thus posing the greatest threat of his journey. Himself.
Eurylochus, the companion of Odysseus was a major threat upon his return to Ithaca. When the ships were beached on the sun god island and the South Wind started to blow for an entire month their supply of food ran out, and they were forced to try fishing and catching birds. It was when Odysseus went inland to pray for aid, did Eurylochus take advantage of his absence. He suggested to the crew that they slaughter some of Helios’ cattle. He said they could pay him back in the form of a temple. The men agreed to this plan and proceeded to kill and roast some cows. When Helios learned of what had happened, he complained to Zeus and demanded that Odysseus should be punished, Faced with this threat, Zeus granted Helios’ wish.
When Odysseus set sail, Zeus had them in open water, he set a hurricane upon them that broke the boat and drowned all but Odysseus, who managed to make a crude raft from the wreckage of the boat and stay afloat. The storm blew him back to the pass of Scylla and Charybdis. He paddled away as quickly as he could to avoid meeting Scylla. After nine days of paddling, he came to Calypso’s island. It was the actions of Eurylochus that caused Odysseus to eventually arrive upon Calypso’s island. Although Zeus delivered the punishment upon Odysseus, it was the mischievous actions of Eurylochus that posed a threat to Odysseus.
In conclusion, Odysseus return to Ithaca was threatened by some major events. The encounter with the Cyclops, Polyphemus, who ate some of his crew was a major threat, as were the mischievous actions of Eurylochus. The Sirens by their lovely voices lured sailors to their deaths was another threat, but due Odysseus knowledge this did not occur. Although these events posed a physical threat to each and every individual sailor, the greatest threat to Odysseus was himself. Not only was Odysseus egotistically strong, it was this characteristic that dictated his actions, and cost him dearly.