In The Odyssey, Odysseus had to face many challenges during his travels; a few of these difficulties were a cannibalistic Cyclops, huge whirlpools, determined suitors, along with many hardships. Odysseus fought constantly to return to his homeland of Ithaca, but to accomplish this Odysseus had to be clever, resourceful, and have great leadership qualities. Odysseus proved throughout the story that he was very clever.
When he was faced with having to get out of Polyphemus’s cave, Odysseus first told the Cyclops, “My name is Nohbdy: mother, father, and friends, / everyone calls me Nohbdy”. g. 452, 341-342) Odysseus told him this because he knew if the other Cyclopes would come and ask who was with him, they would think that “Nohbdy” was there. In another episode, Odysseus outsmarted the Sirens; he wanted to listen to their sweet song, but he knew he would try to jump overboard. It was then he got the notion to tell his crew, “you are to tie me up, tight as a splint, / erect along the mast, lashed to the mast, / and if I shout and beg to be untied, / take more turns of rope to muffle me. ” (pg. 9, 536-539)
This and telling the crew members to put wax in their ears ensured that Odysseus, alone, could listen to the Sirens’ song and not die. When Odysseus had to figure out how he could kill the Suitors who were staying in his house, he had Athena disguise him as an old beggar and then told Telemachus, his son, to hide all of the Suitors’ weapons and armor. If they asked Telemachus what he was doing, he was to tell them he was storing the weapons so that none of the suitors would kill each other if they got into a fight.
Many times throughout the story, Odysseus had to be resourceful enough to accomplish a task by using surrounding things, whatever was at hand. When he was drifting back towards Charybdis, Odysseus grabbed onto a nearby fig tree and held on until a piece of driftwood shot out of the whirlpool; then he grabbed a hold of the driftwood and soared to safety. In order to escape from the Cyclops’s cave, Odysseus wanted to blind the Cyclops.
To do this, he carved a large stave which he planned to use against the Cyclops and poke his eye out. But in order to keep this stave a secret from Polyphemus, he had to hide it in a place where Polyphemus would not suspect. It is here he hid it, “under / one of the dung piles in profusion there. ” (pg. 451, 303-304) To make this stave, Odysseus first had to find a tree which he could cut down, “an olive tree, felled green and left to season” (pg. 51, 293) Odysseus also had to find a way to prevent the suitor from knowing that he was back, so he prayed to Athena to disguise him as a beggar.
Odysseus had to be a good leader in order to make tough decisions about what he and his crew should do. When passing through the strait between Scylla and Charybdis, Odysseus chose to lose six men to Scylla instead of risking losing the entire ship to Charybdis. Upon the Island of the Lotus Eaters, Odysseus had to get the men who had eaten the Lotus off the island. I drove them, all three wailing, to the ships, / tied them under their rowing benches,” (pg. 445, 97-98)
On the island of the sun god, Helios, Odysseus warned his men not to kill the cattle which belonged to the god; but, unfortunately, his men disobeyed him and slaughtered the cattle, which they feasted upon. Zeus later punished his men with death. Trapped inside of Polyphemus’ cave, Odysseus knew he had to be a good leader if he was to get himself and his men out of the cave.
Originally he was going to kill Polyphemus when he ate two of Odysseus’s men; but when Odysseus was about to stab him, he realized that he should not kill him, because “I had touched the spot / when sudden fear stayed me: if I killed him / we perished there as well, for we could never / move his ponderous doorway slab aside. (pg. 450-451, 273-276)
During his adventure Odysseus proved that he was smart, and able to deal with adversity skillfully. He proved an able leader despite all the troubles that he encountered on his adventure. In the end, Odysseus proved he could surmount the challenges which might have prevented him from getting home.