Honors English III
March 7th, 2019
Fatal Flaws in Ancient Heroes
In ancient monomyth, a hero is the exemplified ideal of the society and culture, someone people of the time would look up to as being perfect. However, despite their strength, knowledge, bravery and other inhuman abilities, most heroes (if not all) have fatal flaws within themselves that leads to significant consequences. For example in Odyssey and Beowulf, both heroes need to pay price for their high pride, going through undesirable consequences of painful journey and death.
Odysseus is a wise king, who brought victory to the Greeks by planning the Trojan horse, ending 10 yearlong Trojan War. After the war has ended, Odysseus sails back for his home, Ithaca, where beautiful wife Penelope and his son Telemachus awaits. However, his journey back home doesn’t seem to be easy, as he goes through Ismarus and land of lotus-eaters, losing many of his crew along the way. Then he crosses the first threshold, separation from known world, as he arrives in the land of Cyclopes. In the land of Cyclopes, common rules such as xenia- hospitality to strangers- is not recognized. Instead, Polyphemus, the Cyclopes, eats few of Odysseus’s men and locks the rest of the crew and Odysseus in his cave along with his sheep as a food for later. They try to escape the cave, but the rock holding the door is too heavy for the crew to remove.
Using his special intelligence, Odysseus thinks of an idea to escape. He first makes Polyphemus drunk by giving him wine that they had brought, and when Polyphemus asks for Odysseus’s name, satisfied by the wine, Odysseus answers that his name is “nobody”. Once Polyphemus has fallen asleep, Odysseus and his crew stabs the cyclone’s eyes, making him blind. Polyphemus cries out in agony asking for help to his brothers, “Nobody is killing me, my friends, by treachery, not using any force.” (Homer, pg178), but because he was calling out that “nobody” is harming him, his brothers doesn’t understand and doesn’t come to help. Then when Polyphemus opens the door to let his sheep out, Odysseus and the crew escape along with the sheep.
Odysseus could have escaped safely back home with his intelligent plan, but because he was too prideful of what he has done, Odysseus tells Polyphemus that his name is Odysseus, king of Ithaca as he is leaving the island. Now knowing the true name, Polyphemus calls out to Poseidon, his father, for revenge on Odysseus. This is where Odysseus’s journey starts, beginning of Odysseus’s struggle to go back home against the cruel sea, Poseidon’s anger. Because of his high pride, Odysseus ends up taking 10 years of suffering on sea to reach his home. This unnecessary pride lets the readers feel friendly and more close to Odysseus,...