Compare and Contrast Essay on Achilles and Odysseus

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  4
Wordcount:  874 Words
Date:  2022-10-28


Homer's elemental heroes Achilles and Odysseus are very comparable but hugely different as they both undergo personal struggles believed to have been tested by their gods. Their heroic characteristics include their bravery, sense of duty and their compassion, however, the tribulations they both faced in their journeys lead them into becoming the real heroes as during, their encounters, according to Dimas, Panos (118) Odysseus seems to be very different from Achilles as he was very cautious when faced with trials. Furthermore, both Achilles and Odysseus appear to be like ordinary men who despite being able to talk to Gods, they are vengeful as many are the times that they use violence as retribution for harm caused to their men.

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Odysseus was extremely concerned with the wellbeing of his men and making it home safely with them, in fact, according to Fagles (280) Odysseus pleads, "Eurylochus, I am one against all- the upper hand is yours. But swear me a binding oath, all here, that if we come on a herd of cattle or the fine flock of sheep, not one man among us-bind in his reckless ways-will slaughter an ox or ram". Odysseus knows that if they butcher the animals they will face a similar fate and so he becomes very cautious to avoid this occurrence. His heroic characteristics which include; making strategic choices and taking time to think about every decision he makes before taking any action makes him a better hero than Achilles who relied on conventional armor and brute force to shape the outcomes of war.

On the other hand, Achilles is also concerned about the safety of his men, but he is not as smart as Odysseus because he is reckless as his driven by his desire for revenge, he did not consider if anything could go astray and was undoubtedly a man of action and a fiend within himself. His pride was a major fault as evidently seen when Achilles refused to engage his men in battle after disagreements with Agamemnon and therefore considered himself the most important man in the army. In many circumstances, according to Michalos, Alex C (2) death penalty is not always the right way of punishing the wrongdoers, however, there is a situation in which the killing of an offender is justified. Achilles killing of Hector is warranted as he felt that Hector had to pay for his actions after he killed Patroclus, Achilles cousin and best friend. Therefore it was right for Achilles to get angry and demand justice.

Furthermore, the goddess Athena helped Achilles kill Hector by tricking him; this act significantly triggered Achillies actions. He thought whatever he was doing was moral and that the gods were encouraging him. Hector pleaded with Achilles to get a proper burial, but Achilles declined, and so he decided to drag his body around Troy and allowed men to stab his body. Hector's name is shamed, and Trojans get mocked, his act was considered disrespectful and immoral. His revenge is justified, but the way he carried it out is not as he took out all his anger which he had concealed it for every horrific thing that got done to him. His act was more than just revenge and to show that he was the supreme warrior in his clan.

On the other hand, Odysseus's wife Penelope was under pressure to choose a husband from among the suitors who took advantage of Odysseus absence who had been away for a long time. However, Penelope was smart enough to challenge the suitors that whoever strung the great bow of Odysseus and shot an arrow through the twelve ax heads, shall win her as his bride. In turn, the suitors failed. Odysseus disguised himself as a beggar and stood up to attempt the challenge of which he managed to string and shoot the arrow between the axes. He took another indicator and shot the leader of the suitors and war began in his home with the help of his son Telemachus, the goddess Athens and some loyal servants. They managed to kill all the suitors and all his wife's servants according to Odysseus (490) "No clean death for the likes of them, by God! Not from me-they showered abuse on my head, my mother's too! You sluts-the suitors' whores," right after the pronouncement, the servants were killed, and the disloyal maids were ordered to clear up the bodies and hang them outside. Odysseus fury is understandable given the suitor's crime against him and his home.


In both Achilles and Odysseus story, both heroes had some good reasons to carry out their revenge for they had to clear up their rage which they had for a very long time. However, Odysseus was different in the fact that he was tactful and was keen not to risk his enduring name by exposing his plot to people unlike Achilles who is left susceptible by his exposed heel and therefore, having qualities such as patience and cleverness, made Odysseus a more satisfying hero.

Works Cited

Dimas, Panos. "Knowing and Wanting in the Hippias Minor." Philosophical Inquiry 38.3/4 (2014): 106-118.

Michalos, Alex C. "Ancient views on the quality of life." Ancient Views on the Quality of Life. Springer, Cham, 2015. 1-90.

Sayre, Henry M. "Discovering the humanities." (2016): 2.

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Compare and Contrast Essay on Achilles and Odysseus. (2022, Oct 28). Retrieved from

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