Free «Epic Characteristics in the Odyssey» Essay Sample

“The Odyssey” by Homer is a particularly intriguing poem whose main focus us the Greek hero Odysseus. The poem has many characteristics that undoubtedly describe it as an epic. Odysseus’ brave figure is one of the key elements that characterize Odyssey as an epic. He was a man who struggled to go back to his home in Ithaca after achieving a heroic status in the Trojan War (Shmoop University, 215). Ithaca’s fate lies in Odysseus’ hands, giving it an epic characteristic. Due to these elements, the poem clearly falls under this category. According to Shmoop University (216), the first line of the poem tells how Homer invokes a muse: “Sing in me, Muse, and through me tell the story.” Later, there is a theme explanation. The muse invocation and the theme testimonial are the main characteristics used in an epic. Another characteristic in the poem is the expansiveness used in the setting. The setting of “The Odyssey” spans out in prodigious distances. This is revealed by how Odyssey travelled through several different places when he was heading to Ithaca.

Contrast Achilles and Odysseus as epic heroes (NOT tragic heroes)

These characters in the Greek literature symbolize two different kinds of heroes; a hero who has a physical deed and another with a spiritual deed. Achilles, who is one of the greatest Greek warriors in the Trojan War, is undoubtedly a demi-god. This is because he was dipped in charmed water by his mother and then given an invulnerability gift. Achilles denotes the physical deed. On the other hand, Odysseus is fully human. His heroism is made up of boldness, cunning and cleverness. Odysseus represents the spiritual deed (Munteanu LaCourse, 183).

In conclusion, the heroic disparity between the two characters could not be any stronger. Even though, Achilles is a demi-god and virtually immortal, he remains crabby and acts childishly. This is depicted in his triumph as he lacks the generosity and nobility expected from a true hero. Odysseus goes above his limitations as human to reach a greater destiny by overcoming the war dangers and going back to his home.


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