In the Odyssey, written by Homer, Odysseus learned a lot about himself and what he had to do to become a better overall human. The adventures he goes on, I think, opens his eyes to a world in which he thought he was invincible. With the Odyssey, Odysseus learned a big lesson in humility. The greatest example of this is in the last five books or so within the story. He has to dress, act, and live like a beggar in order to regain everything he had lost. While he was a beggar, the suitors treated him horribly. Antinous, leader of the suitors, was the worst of them all.
He was the first to mistreat Odysseus and planned to kill Telemachus. He was also the one that would abuse him physically and verbally for some time to come. Also, if that weren’t enough, he planned a boxing match for Odysseus to be in to watch him get beat up. All this was happening and the other suitors were most likely following their leader in whatever he was doing. Odysseus had to control himself the whole time this was happening. If he had lost his temper, the suitors would have killed him, his son, and most likely taken over the kingdom. That didn’t happen though.
Odysseus learned self-control and humility. He may not be perfect at it, but going through all the humility made him a better man. Along the same topic, he was a king going through this humility. It would be one thing for a peasant to go through it, but a king? This made it even harder for Odysseus. He had rank above all the suitors and could rightly kick them out of his kingdom. Instead he waits for the right time and kills them all. The “pre-journey” Odysseus would of thought of himself invincible and probably would have died trying to get his kingdom back.
Along the same line as humility comes pride. Odysseus had more pride and cockiness than any of the characters I have read about this semester. He didn’t seem as bad in the Iliad, but the Odyssey really showed him in a different light. He had to swallow his pride when he had to come back to his home and get it back. Just in the fact that he came back at all was pride swallowing. He lost all of his men. That’s horrible. He was supposed to be one of the high-ranking officers of the Trojan War and he comes back after 20 years without his 600 plus men.
I’m not even sure if that is pride. That sounds like a mixture of guts and pride to me. Anyways, he also had to swallow his pride when he became a beggar. Again for the same reason as humility. He was a king and not a beggar. There could be no lower form. Another form of him getting rid of his pride was when he was almost killed in the sea. He was hanging on to wreckage of his lost raft, totally at the mercy of nature. Odysseus thought himself to be smarter than nature and, to an extent, the gods also. Now he had to see that he was not better than either.
Without the help of the sea nymph, he would have been dead, and had to give up his protective cloak in order to live. Poseidon could have done anything to him, and really did try to kill him with the forces of nature. Odysseus had to bury his pride and except help. Also, he had to except help from others on his journeys also. If Circe had not helped him, he probably would have never gotten home. She showed him the way to the underworld and gave him food to sacrifice in order for the ghost of Teiresias to talk to him. Then, on the way back, Circe helped him again.
For a man that used to need no help, he sure was getting a lesson in how much he could accomplish alone. While down in Hades, he met many other people. Agamemnon happened to be one of them. He had basically told Odysseus never to trust women. Odysseus had to make a choice on whether or not to trust Agamemnon at all. Could he trust what he was saying? Another person he met in Hades was his mother. She had died pretty much of a broken heart. She had waited and waited for her son to come and died waiting. Now if that doesn’t hit home I don’t know what will.
He knew that he really messed up when he tried to embrace his mother and went right through her. If he were more responsible and just went home after the war, he would have been able to hug his mother again. He also ran into one of his crew members that had died from being to drunk and falling off the roof on Circe’s Island. He told Odysseus that he had just left him there and that he wanted a proper funeral. Finally he got to talk to Teiresias, the blind man who was said to have been blessed by the gods with foresight because of his lack of sight. Teiresias had told him of what was to come in order to get back to Ithika.
Odysseus would have to take the responsibility of the rest of the journey ahead of him in order to get his kingdom back. The main thing that he learned from being in Hades was how irresponsible he was. Every time he landed somewhere new, he lost men. Six being the lowest number and a couple hundred being the most. He was now alone and again in need of assistance. Now he had learned what it had taken him so long to see. Now he was willing to accept the fact and do what was needed and stop being so irresponsible. At the end of the book, he clears everything up with those in his family.
That is out of respect, which he had none of. He also made a shrine to Poseidon in order to show that he respects the gods and nature. Throughout the Odyssey, Odysseus made a lot of bad moves and even though an adult, made a lot of childish mistakes. It took him lessons in humility, pride, respect, and responsibility in order to be the man he is at the end of the book. I think he learned responsibility throughout the story. He would not have gotten his kingdom back and had a good ending if he had not. He also would not be the ruler, father, son, and husband he will be.