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Khris Thammavong
Mrs. Noyce
A3
December 15, 2015
Heroic Qualities
There are many different definitions of the word hero. It can mean a
variety of things to different people. For instance someone could think a hero
is someone with supernatural powers such as invulnerability, or another
person could think that a hero is someone that helps people and does good
deeds without the need of super powers. In some cultures there are certain
characteristics that a person must have to be considered a hero. The Greeks
have many characteristics of what they think a hero needs. The Odyssey by
Homer has some examples of characteristics that the Greeks thought were
heroic. A quality that Homer shows to be important and heroic is to be smart
and quick-witted, especially in urgent situations. This is shown through when
Odysseus tricked the cyclops, Polyphemus, and escaped from him, and when
Odysseus rescued his men from the witch Circe.
Homer shows through Odysseus that in order to be a hero, one needs
to be smart and has the ability to think fast, which is shown through
Odysseuss encounter with Polyphemus. Even in a high pressure situation
where his many of men are dying to the cyclops, when the cyclops asks

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Odysseus for his name Odysseus responds, My name is Noman (Homer
97). He deceives Polyphemus saying his name is Noman which sounds like
no man. This was clever because when they stab him in the eye in order to
escape, the cyclops cries out, Noman is killing me by fraud; no man is killing
me by force (Homer 98). This makes the other Cyclopes think he is ill, and
think that he is not being attacked by anyone since no man is attacking
him. If Odysseus gave his real name when he was asked, when they stab
Polyphemus in the eye and he cries out, the other Cyclopes wouldve
probably come to assist Polyphemus and to kill Odysseus and his crew. Since
Homer shows that being smart is an important heroic trait to the Greeks, the
Greeks most likely referred to Odysseus as a hero.
Another instance that Homer shows Odysseus to be smart is while he
saves his men from the witch Circe. After failed attempts to deceive and trick
Odysseus, Circe asks him to go to bed with her but Odysseus responds, I
shall certainly not consent to go to bed with you unless you will first take
your solemn oath to plot no further harm against me (Homer 109). He
knows that Circe will try to deceive and harm him again so he makes her
take an oath to not harm him in any way. Oaths were very important to the
Greek. One does not usually break an oath. Homer portrays that in order to
be a hero and to stay away from harm, one must be clever. Odysseus still
wanted his men back after the oath so he says, If you want me to eat and
drink, you must free my men and bring them to me (Homer 110). Odysseus
basically blackmails Circe into giving his men back. Since Circe cared about

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Odysseuss well-being, she then goes to the pigsty doors and turns his men,
who are pigs at that moment, back into humans. The fact that Odysseus
cleverly saved his men, without being deceived or being turned into a pig,
made the Greeks believe he is a hero even more.
One of the heroic qualities that Homer portrays, which is being clever
and crafty, is being shown through Odysseuss experiences. Homer shows
that the Greeks believed that this trait is required in order to be a hero. One
instance where this characteristic is shown is during Odysseuss encounter
with Polyphemus the cyclops. Odysseus tricked the cyclops into thinking his
name was Noman so that when they were stabbing Polyphemus, his cries
of help it sounded like no man was killing him. Another instance is when
Odysseuss men were captured and turned into pigs by Circe. He was smart
enough to be able to save his men without being tricked or deceived by
Circe.