Is Odysseus a Hero in The Poem

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About this sample

About this sample


Words: 608 |

Page: 1|

4 min read

Published: Jun 13, 2024

Words: 608|Page: 1|4 min read

Published: Jun 13, 2024

Table of contents

  1. The Flawed Hero
  2. The Questionable Actions
  3. The Implications
  4. Conclusion

Throughout the epic poem The Odyssey, the question of who truly deserves the title of hero arises numerous times. Odysseus, the protagonist of the story, undoubtedly possesses heroic qualities such as bravery, intelligence, and leadership. However, his actions and decisions also raise questions about his morality and the extent of his heroism. This essay will argue that while Odysseus may exhibit heroic qualities, he is not a true hero due to his flawed character and questionable actions.

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The Flawed Hero

One of the key aspects that separates a hero from a mere protagonist is the presence of flaws. Heroes, like any human being, are not perfect and possess certain weaknesses or character flaws. Odysseus, too, has his fair share of flaws, which prevent him from being an ideal hero.

Firstly, Odysseus is known for his excessive pride, or hubris. This flaw is evident in his interactions with the gods and his fellow comrades. For example, when he blinds the Cyclops Polyphemus, he proudly reveals his true identity, leading to Poseidon's wrath and a series of hardships for him and his crew. This arrogance undermines his heroism, as true heroes are humble and do not boast about their accomplishments.

Furthermore, Odysseus is often described as cunning and deceitful. While these qualities can be useful in certain situations, Odysseus frequently uses them to manipulate others for his own benefit. An example of this is when he disguises himself as a beggar upon his return to Ithaca. While this disguise helps him gather information and plan his revenge on the suitors, it also raises questions about his honesty and integrity.

The Questionable Actions

In addition to his character flaws, Odysseus' actions throughout the poem also cast doubt on his heroism. While he does exhibit bravery in various situations, such as facing the Cyclops and battling the suitors, his choices often prioritize his own survival and personal gain over the well-being of others.

For instance, when Odysseus and his men encounter the lotus-eaters, he allows his crew to eat the lotus fruit, which causes them to forget their home and their desire to return. This decision ultimately endangers their journey and prolongs their suffering. A true hero would prioritize the safety and well-being of his comrades over immediate gratification.

Furthermore, Odysseus' treatment of women throughout the poem raises ethical concerns. He engages in numerous affairs and dalliances, betraying his wife Penelope and disregarding the consequences of his actions. While these actions may be in line with the societal norms of the time, they do not align with the moral standards we expect from a hero.

The Implications

Examining Odysseus' flaws and questionable actions not only challenges his heroism but also raises broader questions about the concept of heroism itself. If a hero is defined by their bravery and accomplishments, then Odysseus certainly fits the bill. However, if heroism also encompasses moral integrity and selflessness, then Odysseus falls short.

This exploration of Odysseus' character and actions invites us to question the traditional notion of heroism and consider alternative definitions. Perhaps a hero should be someone who not only possesses admirable qualities but also consistently displays moral integrity and acts selflessly for the greater good.


In conclusion, while Odysseus exhibits heroic qualities such as bravery and intelligence, his flaws and questionable actions prevent him from being a true hero. His excessive pride, cunning nature, and self-centered decisions undermine his heroism and raise ethical concerns. By critically examining Odysseus' character and actions, we are prompted to reconsider the definition of heroism and what it truly means to be a hero. Ultimately, a hero should embody not only physical strength and intelligence but also moral integrity and selflessness.


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- Homer. The Odyssey. Translated by Robert Fagles, Penguin Classics, 1996.

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This essay was reviewed by
Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

Cite this Essay

Is Odysseus A Hero in the Poem. (2024, Jun 13). GradesFixer. Retrieved July 23, 2024, from
“Is Odysseus A Hero in the Poem.” GradesFixer, 13 Jun. 2024,
Is Odysseus A Hero in the Poem. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 23 Jul. 2024].
Is Odysseus A Hero in the Poem [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2024 Jun 13 [cited 2024 Jul 23]. Available from:
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