Moses Versus Odysseus

1589 Words Mar 9th, 2011 7 Pages
Odysseus and Moses represent the standard hero, which is one scarred with imperfections—a hero that commits crimes, lies, deceives, is in some sense immoral. Moses as an adolescent murdered an Egyptian who was pestering a Hebrew man (Exodus, 45) whereas, Odysseus betrays his faithful wife by having affairs with several women, such as Calypso and Circe. Odysseus’s crave for adventure and Moses’ violence show that both Hebrew culture and Greek culture are accepting of a tarnished hero only because their gods ordained it. The fact that the hero was an instrument of the gods was equally important to both cultures. Moses was picked to be the savior of Jews by God. He was to be the one who would free the Jews and take them
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Thus Moses freed the Jews from slavery and led them to a place where they could settle. Again, Moses' story is the Jews' story. The specifics of the hero's purpose may change according to their culture, but the role he plays for the people is the same.

In addition to cultural ideals, the hero's journey is also determined by how each story originated. The Hebrews passed down Moses and the Exodus orally, in the form of a linear story with a beginning, middle and end. Moses' linear journey took the Jews out of Egypt, through the desert and to the Promised Land. In contrast,Homer's poetic writing of the Odyssey is circular in that the ending is a new beginning. It begins and ends (except for the epilogue) in Odysseus' palace in Ithaca. Like the story, his journey back home is a circular one. In both cases, the medium is the message.

The major differences between Odysseus and Moses are primarily contextual. They are both made out of the same "stuff." They are universal heroes who could exist in any culture, context or time. It's as if there is a generic hero formula, and this still holds true today, and by simply inserting a few particulars, a fairly accurate biography of a hero can be derived.


The first blank to fill in is the hero's past. As a young man, Moses murdered an Egyptian who was pestering a Jew. A savior who

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