Odysseus: Selfish or Selfless?

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The Odyssey- Odysseus: Selfless or Selfish?

The epic poem The Odyssey by Homer is the tale of Odysseus and his men sailing home towards the island of Ithaka from Troy. On the men’s valiant journey home they encounter several curses and diversions that kept them from reaching Ithaka for years. The gods influenced the meeting of several people and places they come across on the trip home from Troy, but of the obstacles they come across that are not god-influenced, they are because Odysseus was selfish. His selfish desire for knowledge and his other inane cravings were the undoing of many of his men. Odysseus also is selfish in the sense that he had relations with several deities and women on his voyage home, showing his lust for women to
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Odysseus lost many ships and many loyal sailors that day, and all from Odysseus’ curiosity to explore that island. Odysseus is so eager as to describe the island as having “a curious bay” (Book X, line 85). This example confirms how Odysseus constant and arrogant curiosity is the direct cause of death and waste of time.

In the Odyssey, Odysseus proves to be a very selfish person because he often leaves his loyalty towards his wife to have relations with other women and goddesses. He sleeps with other people for his own pleasure, making this a very selfish act. In book ten, he was trapped on the witch-god Kirke’s island of Aeaea for a whole year. During this three hundred sixty five year period, he does not attempt to leave. By not leaving he demonstrates how he puts his wife aside to live with other women and leaves his wife sick with worry and full of grim thoughts. While he was there, he and his men lived in luxury, but every night Odysseus would sleep with Kirke. This means that every night Odysseus broke his loyalty to Penelope and committed the selfish act of having relations with other women. By being with Kirke, Odysseus prioritizes his life in such a way that being with other women is more important than loving his wife, who during the time Odysseus has been gone did not have relations with a single man even though one hundred and eight were in line to be with her. Odysseus proves again and again that his love
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