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Comparing Odysseus And The Great Warrior Achilles In The Iliad

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Odysseus is a combination of the self-made, self-assured man and the embodiment of the standards and mores of his culture. He is favored by the gods and respected and admired by the mortals. Even the wrath of Poseidon does not keep him from his homecoming. He is confident that he represents virtue even when a modern audience might not be so sure. He is also a living series of contradictions, a much more complicated character than we would expect to find in the stereotypical epic hero. We can contrast Odysseus, for example, with the great warrior Achilles in The Iliad.

Achilles himself is not a two dimensional stereotype. He has a tragic flaw, which can best be identified as hubris as one of several distinguishing traits. But Achilles is a simpler character. According to the myth the Homeric Greeks would have known, Achilles was given a choice by the gods to live a short, glorious life full of excitement and heroism or a long, tranquil life with little recognition or fame. Achilles, of course, chose the glorious life; therefore, he achieves a kind of immortality through valor and intense, honest devotion to a cause.

Odysseus, in The Odyssey, is much more complicated. He lives by his wiles as well as his courage. He is an intellectual. Often he openly evaluates a situation, demonstrating the logic he employs in making his choices. When it proves effective, Odysseus lies cheats, or steals in ways that we would not expect in an epic hero. Although he is self-disciplined his
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