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English Literature AP
Writing Sample- The Odyssey
The most admired classical hero is most certainly Odysseus, the mythological Grecian subject of Homer’s epic tale, The Odyssey. This legendary figure displays excessive amounts of brains and muscle, seeming almost superhuman at times. He embodies the ideals Homeric Greeks aspired to: manly valor, loyalty, piety, and intelligence. The popularity of Odysseus transcends time. To this day he remains greatly admired as both a hero and an ordinary man who must deal with great adventures and retrieving the life he once had. For twenty years Odysseus overcame each obstacle the gods handed to him. He was always respectful to the gods, acknowledging their control of fate and realizing that he needed help if he was to ever get back to Ithaca and his beloved family. He showed keen observation, instinct, and caution. He is great at disguises, capable of concealing his feelings, and a fast, inventive liar: heroic qualities that got him through his adversities. Odysseus is also very human, and the reader can see these many qualities as well. He is often moved to tears. He makes mistakes, gets himself into tricky situations, and loses his temper. We see him play not only a hero but also a husband, father, and son. He takes on the very human roles of athlete, warrior, sailor, storyteller, carpenter, beggar, and lover. He vividly displays human qualities like brutality and boldness, while being sensitive and shy at the same time. It is these human qualities that people can relate to. While he is no doubt a hero, Odysseus is also viewed as a modern man, the pragmatic survivor. He must struggle, suffer, and deal with the inescapable fate handed down to him from the great beings atop Mt. Olympus. The average human can relate to Odysseus’ human qualities, while admiring him for the heroic traits they can only hope to attain, making him so popular. Odysseus has the skills, strength, and intelligence to qualify him as a hero, yet he still possess the emotional constraints of a human, which together enable him to survive the chaotic disorder of his adventure. His journey was rich with people and places and totally unpredictable, just as life is for everybody. From ancient Greeks to today’s reader, it is easy to commiserate with Odysseus while at the same time idolize him for dealing with life as it came at him.
To survive twenty years of fighting, storms, and the wrath of gods, Odysseus proves he possesses the super human qualities of a hero. Odysseus showed he was a hero early on, as a talented warrior in the Trojan War. He was a leader throughout the battle, always trying to keep things in order so the battle for Troy could move forward. He was a great fighter, and could be ruthless as well as tricky. He was always, “first by a long way in all plots and schemes.” (34). While the warriors had been fighting and scheming unsuccessfully for an entire decade, it was Odysseus’ plan to invade troy with the wooden horse that led the army to victory over the Trojans. It was actions like these that exemplified Odysseus’ high level of intelligence, a major qualifying characteristic of his hero status. Some would describe him as, “a man whose mind was as wise as the gods…” (150). Odysseus suffered for many long years on land and sea, yet was wise enough to overcome everything he faced, using his brain to solve problems, having the capacity of thinking equal to that of the gods. He came up with great plans to help him on his adventures, such as the time he was trapped in the Cyclops’ cave. He came up with the ingenious plan to take an olive wood poll and, “rub it into his eye while he was sound asleep.” (106). This way, the Cyclops would be blinded and the sailors could make their escape. Odysseus also displayed the strength of a hero through his epic journey. He was an, “indomitable man…” (49). He really was incapable of being subdued or overcome, possessing great amounts of physical strength. Most men would succumb to the exhaustion of twenty years of obstacles, but not Odysseus. His strength
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Odyssey, Odysseus, Trojan War, Calypso, Athena, Odyssean gods, Diomedes
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