Odysseus is the Hero in Odyssey the epic poem by Homer and is among the most frequently portrayed characters in world literature. According to the epic, Odysseus was Anticleia and Laertes’s son, Penelope’s husband, and Telemachus’s father. Odysseus was also the king of Ithaca. Through his deeds, the epic portrays Odysseus as an individual of formidable shrewdness and outstanding endurance, courage, resourcefulness, and eloquence. However, it is Odysseus’s perseverance while wandering on the Island and the subsequent recovery of his throne and household that is the most important deed because though challenging, Odysseus’s perseverance is key to the epic’s central theme and as it presents an individual’s best suited to cope with adversity.

First impressions are essential, and the epic strives to arouse the reader’s admiration and sympathy for Odysseus as the protagonist from the beginning. Odysseus’s endurance is foregrounded in the epic’s start where Homer writes, “…and went through a lot of heart-rending hardship at sea, as he tried to stay alive and get his comrades home… (4). Furthermore, as he faces adversity while wandering between Ithaca and Troy, Odysseus’s true nature is revealed, hence critical in his character development. In books VI to XIII, Homer describes how Odysseus encounters difficulties when he arrives in the land of Lotus-eaters but manages to rescue some of his men from their lotos-induced lethargy with difficulty because he does not give in to temptations and human weaknesses.

Odysseus’s tribulations begin when his ships are blown off course and land in this land. The locals offer Odysseus’s men the Lotus fruit, instilling a calm elation into everyone who eats the fruit. However, Odysseus declines to eat the fruit probably because he is skeptical enough not to allow his hunger to overpower reason, hence chooses to endure hunger, which saves him from the aftermath. Odysseus states, “When I saw what had happened, I was dismayed and I had to drag them forcibly back to the ships…Lucky that I did not taste that fruit!” (92). The events reveal Odysseus as an individual who does not give in to moments of weakness because he possesses the strength of character and willpower that allows him to endure difficult situations.

The second instance Odysseus displays powerful perseverance is when his men release the winds. While the men can see their home Ithaca from their ships, they disobey Odysseus and free Aeolus’s winds. Consequently, the ships are pushed back far away from their home to Aeolia. Odysseus states, “In my grief, I thought that I should cast myself overboard and drown, rather than face such a tragedy. But my spirit held me, made me cling to the rail and endure it all” (113).

Odysseus’ resolve not to end his life by throwing himself overboard suggests a significant amount of perseverance in a moment of despair. Drifting miles away from the safety and the home he longed to get to was enough to make Odysseus give up but he remains determined to face the unknown. Even if the gods seem to work against him, Odysseus endures anything to get back to Penelope and Telemachus, which presents him as an individual with a strong spirit and resolute to the core.

Another instance of Odysseus’s perseverance is when he clutches the tree above Charybdis. Odysseus leaps onto a tree that sticks out of the rocks as Charybdis starts to suck down the ocean. He says, “For hours I clung to that trunk, unable to reach the firm ground or even get a good foothold, while Charybdis gulped the ocean down” (149). Odysseus knows that he must clutch the tree to live to see his kingdom and family again. The incident is one among the many Odysseus has to endure an opportunity to end his problems by allowing the Charybdis to suck him along with the ocean. However, instead of surrendering to fate, Odysseus holds on to the branch and does not let go, even if it is a painful and tiring ordeal.

Book five also depicts Odysseus’s choice to persevere tribulations as he seeks an opportunity to return to his family. Odysseus is shown to be at a pathetically low point in life and fortune as the nymph Calypso imprisons him. Depicted as an individual deeply powerless and despondent, Odysseus cannot think of any way to escape despite the epic initially presenting him as resourceful and wily. While in prison, Odysseus does not have weaponry, an army, or ships on a very distant island. Moreover, the woman who imprisons him wants to sleep with Odysseus against his will and promises him immortality in exchange for marriage.

Calypso tells Hermes, “…I looked after him lovingly and told him I’d make him immortal and ageless for all his days…” (134). Although it takes the gods’ intervention to get Odysseus out of his predicament, his perseverance also helps him endure the ordeal with his jailer. With heroic endurance motivated by his love for Penelope, Odysseus holds onto Calypso for seven years. In Greek mythology, immortality is among the greatest human desires and an enticing offer Odysseus could have given in to. Nonetheless, Odysseus does not give in to his jailor’s incentives but endures the temptations, emphasizing a heroic merit that also wins the affection and favor of the gods who rescue him.

In conclusion, persevering is among Odysseus’s most prominent deeds, allowing him to be a loving family man and an effective leader for his kingdom and men. Persevering amidst unimaginable tribulations is the most important deed though difficult because it allows Homer to develop the epics’ plot and the traits of the poem’s characters including the protagonist. For Odysseus, perseverance allows him to maintain a firm resolve while making decisions and taking action. Partly motivated by the longing to reach home to his throne and family, perseverance sets Odysseus apart from other mortals by highlighting his strength of character. Without perseverance, Odysseus would not overcome the temptations of Calypso, his near-death experiences, and his diverse plight during the seven years of imprisonment, which means that he never would have returned to his loyal wife and throne in Ithaca. 

Work Cited

Homer, Homer. The Odyssey. Xist Publishing, 2015.

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William Anderson (Schoolworkhelper Editorial Team)
William completed his Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts in 2013. He current serves as a lecturer, tutor and freelance writer. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, walking his dog and parasailing. Article last reviewed: 2022 | St. Rosemary Institution © 2010-2024 | Creative Commons 4.0

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