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How Odysseus is an Effective Leader

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A leader is one who shows courage, nobility, confidence, cleverness, has a keen intellect and motivates those around them. Odysseus, the protagonist, is portrayed as an epic hero who uses his courage and wit as he goes on a journey to reclaim his life. Odysseus’ demonstrates his cunningness through his ingenious slyness to navigate through situations that could negatively impact the journey he has embarked on. In The Odyssey, composed by Homer, the epic poem demonstrates how Odysseus is an effective leader due to the various tests of will he encounters including battling Scylla, Polyphemus and the occurrence on the island of the Lotus Eaters.

Odysseus and his men had to face many obstacles throughout their journey. For example, they had to fight off Scylla, a large and legendary six-headed monster. While navigating the Straits of Scylla, she gobbled up six of Odysseus’s men and Odysseus exclaimed, “…still screaming, still reaching out to me in their death throes./ That was the most heartrending sight I saw/ in all the time I suffered on the sea.” Essentially, Odysseus’s pain was much greater and more intense this time when he lost his men to Scylla because his crew was in desperate need of assistance and he was painstakingly only able to watch it happen. This fight demonstrates how much Odysseus truly cares for his men and if he were not a good leader, then he would have accepted their tragic demise. Odysseus constantly reassures his men that if they trust him they will succeed in their journey when he exclaims, “This is not/ worse than the time the Cyclops captured us,/ and forced us to remain inside his cave./ We got away that time, thanks to my skill/ and brains and strategy. Remember that./ Come on then, all of you, and trust my words”. In other words, getting past Scylla requires extraordinary leadership from Odysseus by demonstrating proper judgment. Furthermore, Odysseus recognizes the fact that regardless of the outcome, he still runs the risk of losing six of his men. These skills and characteristics stand out and contribute to Odysseus’ greatness as a leader.

Interestingly, Odysseus also exhibited great leadership when he and his men were trapped in Polyphemus’s cave. Polyphemus, the Cyclops, tried to kill Odysseus and his men because they invaded his cave, but Odysseus was willing to take extreme measures to escape safely along with his men. Odysseus can adjust rapidly and intelligently to changing circumstances and make clever decisions to help his men: “he grabbed two men for dinner. I approached/ and offered him a cup of ivy wood,/ filled full of wine. I said,/ ‘Here Cyclops! You/ have eaten human meat; now drink some wine.” Essentially, Odysseus’s cleverness resulted in him blinding Polyphemus, which gave him the ability to escape. Odysseus showed great leadership and intelligence to escape from Polyphemus’s cave and ultimately avenge his men by blinding Polyphemus. In addition, when Odysseus encountered the cyclops he quickly thought to name himself Noman, which capitalized on Polyphemus’ stupidity: “My friends! Noman is killing me by tricks, not force.” In other words, Odysseus displayed strong leadership skills as he thought of several different ways to get him and his men out of that difficult and possibly life-threatening situation. Some people might say that he said his name due to glory and cursed the rest of the trip, but he was able to get his men far enough along their journey.

From beginning to end of the Odyssey, Odysseus repeatedly motivated his crew to not give up during their journey by announcing “My friends, I know how much/ you have endured. But listen to me now./ Tiresias and Circe both insisted/ we must avoid the island of the Sun, the joy of mortals. They said dreadful danger/ lurks there for us. We have to steer our ship/ around it.” Odysseus’s men fall prey to the Lotus-eaters and barely escape with their memories intact. This relates to Odysseus and his men because they succumb to temptation on numerous occasions, usually with disastrous consequences. Odysseus fulfilled his leadership role when his crew was eating the lotus flowers and had no idea what was happening: “They had forgotten home. I dragged them back/ in tears, forced them to board the hollow ships,/ pushed them below the decks, and tied them up./ I told the other men, the loyal ones,/ to get back in the ships, so no one else/ would taste the lotus and forget about/ our destination.” Simply stated, Odysseus realized that eating the lotus plant would put his crew in a state of peril. To ensure that the lotus plants were flushed out of his crew’s systems, he used his skillful and crafty mind to quickly create a solution. Essentially, Odysseus’s cunning intelligence and loyalty to his crew allowed them to continue safely on their journey and achieve his end goal of returning home.

Throughout the Odyssey, Odysseus exemplifies great leadership to his crew proven by the many instances in the book. Throughout Odysseus’s journey home, he demonstrates wisdom and a cunning sense throughout his adventure while attempting to survive each day. The occurrences described above exemplify the qualities of a wise leader. Odysseus possesses all of these character traits which encourages his men to look up to him. In life, leaders must lead by example for those around them to follow and support each other.   

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How Odysseus Is An Effective Leader. (2021, December 16). GradesFixer. Retrieved January 27, 2022, from
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