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The Admired Character Traits Of Ancient Greece English Literature Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 2240 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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In the epic poem The Odyssey, a courageous hero, Odysseus, displayed many admirable traits, even though at times his actions brought pain and suffering to others he loved. These faults may have inflicted a substantial amount of desolation and agony to particular individuals, but these transgressions were inadvertent and failed to mutilate the true image of the protagonist during his many journeys. Odysseus is depicted as a dedicated warrior because his prominence and allure resulted in his depiction as a god-like figure among men and a worthy king amongst his people. Odysseus' physical dominance earned himself respect and his intelligence and exceptional nature was admired by all of his followers. His dictating role in the Trojan War placed a large emphasis his strength as a fighter and as a human being. Odysseus demonstrated his intellectual abilities when devising strategic plans of attack, such as the penetration of Troy with the infamous 'Trojan horse'. Nestor, Menelaus, Achilles, and Agamemnon, spoke highly of their comrade in response to his service. "For all of the Achaeans who strove at Troy it was Odysseus who strove the hardest and achieved the most." Odysseus' actions were known throughout the land, no more so than in his own country, Ithaca. Even though Odysseus was absent for more than a decade, many citizens were still loyal and hopeful of his return.

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A vital characteristic trait that was admirable in ancient Greece was physical strength due to their environment and dedication to succeeding in war situations. While accounting what happened after three of his men ate the flower of the Lotus Eaters, Odysseus recalls, "I drove them, all three wailing, to the ships, ties them down under their rowing benches, and called the rest: 'All hands aboard; come, clear the beach and no one taste the Lotus, or you lose your hope of home'" (985). To drag three grown men, who were also very strong and equally fit, onto a ship against their will and tie them up creates the image of a great physical challenge for Odysseus for the reader. The story states, "All three wailing," translates that they were fighting against Odysseus, which extends his challenge to a more demanding stage. Next, Odysseus exemplifies his brute physical strength during his plan to disable a Cyclops by ramming a monstrous spear into the eye of the Cyclops. "Now by the gods, I drove a big hand spike deep in the embers, charring it again, and cheered my men along with battle talk to keep their courage up: no quitting now. The pike of olive, green though it had been, reddened and glowed as if about to catch. I drew it from the coals and my four fellows gave me a hand, lugging it near the Cyclops as more than natural force nerved them; straight forward they sprinted, lifted it, and rammed it deep in his crater eye, and leaned on it turning it as a shipwright turns a drill in planking, having men below to swing the two-handled strap that spins it in the groove (992)." An event in which Odysseus easily exemplifies his physical strength occurred in the claiming of Penelope because and arrow would have to pass through a series of targets using the bow that Odysseus had left behind when he went to war. Shockingly, none of the suitors could string the bow, but the Odysseus could string the bow with a negligible amount of effort. When the suitors failed to pull the bow to shoot the arrow through the targets, Odysseus genuinely pulled the bow to its fullest length then drove the arrow perfectly through the targets. In conclusion, Odysseus defies the limits of strength which boosts his probability in completing challenges quickly and more precisely than other heroes.

Mental quickness and the abilities to fight through mental challenges is a major characteristic trait that places a fine line between Odysseus and other heroes of ancient Greece. When Odysseus and his crew were trapped in the cave of the Cyclops, Odysseus tricked the Cyclops into becoming drunk so the Cyclops would go into a state of dizziness to increase the probability of defeating the Cyclops.

Odysseus purposely offered the Cyclops "some of the sweet wine of maron" in which was stronger than other wines because it was not diluted with water. When the Cyclops was drunk, he asked Odysseus his name, but he lied and said his name was "Nohbdy" which was a high intelligence decision on his part. He didn't know how to escape at first after this, but he and his men ended up heaving up a pointed stick and plunged it into its eye, which is where the name "Nohbdy" came into play because other Cyclops were ready to spring into action when they heard the cries, but the Cyclops yelled out that "Nohbdy" was attacking me. The Cyclops was blinded and opened the cave door, and Odysseus and his crew returned to the ship. On the way away from the island, Odysseus called back that if anyone ever asked who blinded him, he should reply, "Tell him Odysseus, raider of cities, took your eye: Laertes' son, whose home's on Ithaca. Secondly, the sirens were evil spirits that were half woman and half bird that led sailors to their death with their song. To prevent this, he blocked up the ears of his men with beeswax, but he had himself tied to the mast of the ship so that he could hear their song. He forewarned his men that if he used sign language to be released, they should bind him tighter. After that, during the crew's encounters with Scylla and Charybdis, Odysseus is wise in not informing them of the future events that is yet to come because he deserved full participation and effort from his crew instead of panic. When Scylla made her strike, Odysseus positioned the boat to where only six of his crew would be whisked by the arms of the sea monster instead of endangering all of his crew. "Then Scylla made her strike, whisking six of my best men from the ship. I happened to glance aft at ship and oarsmen and caught sight of their arms and legs, dangling high overhead. Voices came down to e in anguish, calling my name for the last time (1010)." A final explication of Odyssey's mental abilities was when Odysseus returned home, he found that his wife had many suitors who wished to marry his wife and claim his possessions because they believed that he was dead. She tricked them to keep them at bay because she did not want to marry any of the suitors. She threw a tournament, and Odysseus took part in it, but under disguise so as not to be noticed by the suitors. The contest was to see if they could wield Odysseus' bow, and to shoot an arrow through the holes of 7 axes that had been lit on fire, and Odysseus won easily winning back the hand of Penelope. The Odyssey is a perfect portrayal of how Odysseus can succeed in using Brains over Braun.

A vital characteristic trait that all of ancient Greece's heroes and gods possessed were bravery and perseverance and to conduct themselves accordingly no matter the intensity of the situation. Eurylochos considers Odysseus's perseverance to be exceptional because he still had the fortitude to tell his crew to sail on past a potentially safe island retreat for the night after enduring the horrors of Scylla and Charybdis. '"You are a hard man, Odysseus. Your force is greater; your limbs never wear out. You must be made all of iron, when you will not let your companions, worn with hard work and wanting sleep, set foot on this land, where if we did, on the sea girt island we could once more make ready a greedy dinner; but you force us to blunder along just as we are through the running night, driven from the island over the misty face of the water (12.279-285)." "At this time Charybdis sucked down the sea's salt water, but I reached high in the air above me, to where the tall fig tree grew, and caught hold of it and clung like a bat; there was no place where I could firmly brace my feet, or climb up it, for the roots of it were far from me, and the branches hung out far, big and long branches that overshadowed Charybdis. Inexorably I hung on, waiting for her to vomit the keel and mast back up again. I longed for them, and they came late; at the time when a man leaves the law court, for dinner, after judging the many disputes brought him by litigious young men; that was the time it took the timbers to appear from Charybdis (12.431-441). This quote proves that Odysseus has mental and physical perseverance and without his willpower, his physical perseverance would go to ruins. This next quote portrays Odysseus's determination and believing and hoping for the best. "Of all creatures that breathe and walk on the earth there is nothing more helpless than a man is, of all that the earth fosters; for he thinks that he will never suffer misfortune in future days, while the gods grant him courage, and his knees have spring in them. But when the blessed gods bring sad days upon him, against his will he must suffer it with enduring spirit. For the mind in men upon earth goes according to the fortunes the Father of Gods and Men, day by day, bestows upon them (18.130-137)." No matter what back luck got thrown towards Odysseus and his crew, there was nothing simpler than enduring the challenge and hoping for the best because they mastered the skill in perseverance, which ultimately results in surviving the pain of the challenge. Perseverance was the key to surviving in ancient Greece during the times of war and self-defense.

In ancient Greece, a necessity to be able to live your live as you wish with overall satisfaction and peacefulness, is to simply treat the gods with respect which will save their life in near death situations. Since the gods acquire such super powers, immortality, and control over their followers with human weakness, it is this combination that causes so much torment and suffering. Examples of such human weakness in the story are when Athena takes pride in Odysseus, Calypso lusts after Odysseus, and Helios wants revenge on Odysseus's crew. When Odysseus was caught in a storm after leaving Calypso's Island, he is on the verge of death when Odysseus yells, "What do you want me to learn?" Poseidon responds, "That without the gods, man is nothing." This summarizes the necessity of having respect for the gods in the Odyssey. Odysseus also offered any sacrifices to ask forgiveness for their mistakes and for good will. "Then I addressed the blurred and breathless dead, vowing to slaughter my best heifer for them before she calved, at home in Ithaca, and burn the choice bits on the altar fire; as for Tiresias, I swore to sacrifice a black lamb, handsomest of all our flock. Thus to assuage the nations of the dead, I pledged these rites, then slashed the lamb and ewe, letting their blood stream into the well pit (1000.)" Finally, Odysseus portrays respect for the gods by praying to them in times of struggle and hardships, such as when he prayed to Apollo to see his wife and son back home. These examples prove the dear respect ancient Greeks gave to the gods because they knew it aid them one day in the future.

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The next admirable trait in ancient Greece was self-control in which Odysseus exemplifies perfectly in many occasions during his journey. When Odysseus's crew devour the rich taste of the Lotus, he remains sober because the drug muddles one's memory so that he forgets about home, but Odysseus remains faithful to his goal of traveling home as soon as possible. "But those who ate this honeyed, the Lotus, never cared to report, nor to return: they longed to stay forever, browsing on the native bloom, forgetful of their homeland. I drove them all, all three wailing, to the ships, tied them down under their rowing benches, and called the rest: All hands aboard; come, clear the beach and no one taste the Lotus, or you lose your hope of home (985). "Secondly, Odysseus resisted the songs of the Sirens, but even though he was tied up, Odysseus could have used his superhuman strength to unleash himself to the trap of the pleasuring sounds. Near the end of the Odyssey, Odysseus resists the temptation to fight back against Melanthios and Antinoos because he had learned from his mistakes and decides to bear the unjust blows of the suitors because he knows his revenge has to be plotted in a careful manner. Finally, Odysseus turns down the offer to see Penelope because the suitors may attack him and he wants Penelope alone to test her loyalty. Although Odysseus did not resist every temptation, the one he did resist resulted in his overall enlightenment.

In conclusion, those urn to be a leader must first convey specific qualities if they are to excel in the world. First, when each second counts, the ability to quick, but assessed decisions is vital. Next, a true leader will set goals for his followers and push them to their max to achieve their goals, but also conveying his own abilities to his followers to portray a true example of determination. After that, knowledge and intelligence of how to use your abilities are vital in accomplishing the set goals. The final and most important trait of a leader is self-discipline and sacrifice. A leader must not only act appropriately in all situations, but also remain humble even if his followers act exactly opposite in regards of their goals. According to the Odyssey, Odysseus exemplifies all major traits of a leader that are most admired by ancient Greeks.


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