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’s Traits Essay, Research Paper

Odysseus’ Sun and Shadow Traits

The traits or characteristics of a person play a major role in his/her life. The sun side is the ostensible meaning, the side that is most obvious and bare of all symbols, inner meanings, and shrouded connotations. The shadow side is the hidden element of a person, or the side that they would rather keep from the public view, knowing that it is dark or evil. No matter who they are, everybody has these two sides in them. In Homer’s epic poem, The Odyssey , Odysseus, the protagonist, has many traits, both good and bad.

Born to the title, King of Ithaca, Odysseus possesses many skills befit of a leader. “We must obey the orders as I give them you at the tiller, listen, and take in all that I say ” (708). This quote shows that Odysseus has a natural talent for being at the head of things. He gives orders easily and nonchalantly expecting them to followed to the letter, due to his confidence and self-belief. If it were not for Odysseus’s quick judgment and guileful train of thought the Greeks would not have been victorious over the Trojans. These included the Trojan horse and other such ideas. Odysseus displays his experience as a leader in full when he uses his ingenuity to create a strategy to incapacitate Polyphemus and escape. But not before driving a spike through Polyphemus’ eye as revenge for the killing of his men. This shows how he also cares for his men, and how he did not let them die in vain. He also shows his cunning when he gives Polyphemus a false name that sounded like nobody . So when Polyphemus kin came to help him he could only say that nobody hurt him.

Another one of Odysseus’s sun traits is his fortitude. When the gauntlet is thrown down he will not hesitate to pick it up in an instant. ” I have been detained long by Calypso, loveliest among goddesses, who held me in her smooth caves, to be her heart’s delight, as Circe of Aeaea, the enchantress, desire me, and detained me in her hall. But in my heart I never gave consent. Where shall a man find sweetness to surpass his own home and his parents?” (683). This quote shows that even though Calypso and Circe’s love is a tempting offer for Odysseus, nothing can override his mindset to return to his home in Ithica. When he says that his heart never gave consent he shows that the only thing he truly wants and desires is to be with his family. This shows how his family values and how he holds them above all else without faltering. Not even two goddesses who promise to give him anything he wants can cause Odysseus to vacillate from the path he has indomitably decided to walk.

In addition to Odysseus sun side, he has, in addition, a darker, shadow side. Some of his shadow traits are his sloth, arrogance, egotism, and callousness to others. This darker, elliptical side doesn’t appear as often as the more positive and sterling side, but it does show a few times during the course of the story. “Did I not keep my nerve, and use my wits to find a way out for us?” (708). This quote shows that Odysseus can be very conceited at times, he is not humble about his actions and openly shows his knowledge of his own importance to the journey. He would not be so smug if his men and other onlookers did not give him so much credit. To overflow with praise is to fill one s head with it.

Odysseus has many sun traits, such as his clout, autonomy, might, and resolve. Yet he also has many shadow traits, though the one that appears the most is his vanity. All these traits play important roles in his life, and in the story. If he did not have any shadow traits, then the story, The Odyssey , would be very unlikely. Homer used the concept of good and evil throughout the entire book, not only situational struggle as seen in the cave with Polyphemus but also an inner struggle of good and evil inside Odyesseus own mind and even character. Odysseus personality and unique character originate from his good traits and evil traits, his yin and yang so to say. The theory of putting good and evil into a man shows the reality of the story and showing that no human is perfect, not even the heroes in life.




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