If modern-day people cannot comprehend why, barely thirty years ago, dressing in neon colored leg warmers was considered fashionable, one can begin to understand the way in which modern views have changed compared with Ancient Greeks. During this time, it was acceptable allowing strangers to enter ones home or to put up a 14-year old girl up for marriage, among other things that seem misplaced in modern times. In consideration of this, it is not uncommon to think that due to the drastic evolution of society and culture, the contemporary definitions and ideals of virtue have also transformed. This paper explores whether we hold space for and value heroism in the same way as the Greeks by considering Odysseus.
During Homers time, the character of Odysseus would have been considered and celebrated as a great warrior and hero. His role is consistent with the definition of an epic hero. From the perspective of modern time, his character is inconsistent with the modern hero.
For instance, Odysseus did not fulfill some important criterion of the modern hero, which is readily sacrificing ones life for others. Looking at his journey back home, Odysseus did not do this. Numerous people died during the travel back to Ithaca, having fallen to Helios traps in the cattle-packed island or being eaten by monsters. The main cause of this was due to Odysseus inability, or rather lacking, to persuade them to choose the noble act. Additionally, on many occasion, Odysseus sends many of his people to explore possibly dangerous territories and the majority of the explorers fails to come back home. The modern-day hero is one that takes it upon himself to bear the burden of risk and have the willingness to sacrifice their own lives for the sake of his comrades and not implore others to bear the burden. Odysseus also on many occasions rushed into decisions without satisfactorily thinking out the strategies.
Noticeably, Odysseus also relies on other peoples help on many occasions in The Odyssey. He does not attempt to escape from captivity at Calypsos island. It takes the convincing of the gods to let Calypso allow Odysseus to go back home. In spite of the situation, Calypso offers to help him in building a raft for his journey and even gives him food. Odysseus sails to Scheria and he then oblivious to the hospitality Alcinous offers him. It takes Hermes flower to evade Circes spell to turn him into a pig. It is only in the instance of escaping from Cyclops cave that Odysseus wit is revealed. Besides this instance, it is Athenas watchful eye that keeps him from trouble and guides him on his path home. A contemporary hero is one that would make all attempts to go back to his people to lead them.
From the analysis, it is evident that the definition of heroism in Ancient Greek does not coincide with the contemporary ideal. A contemporary hero, unlike Odysseus, would put his life in danger for the sake of others. He is one that who would be selfless and often at the forefront in battles. A contemporary hero would also repeatedly make attempts to go back to the people who look up to him, and Odysseus does not seem to have this quality.
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