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Character analysis of Odysseus in “Adventures of Ulysses” by Bernard Evslin

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In the “Adventures of Ulysses” by Bernard Evslin the main character Odysseus goes through a series of exciting and dangerous trials during his trip back to Ithaca after the Trojan War. In this story Odysseus is portrayed as an epic hero. This can be seen through the fact that he is essentially noble, performs amazing tasks and feats and overcome weakness and temptations most would not be able to endure.

Odysseus is essentially noble and this is a component of most epic heroes. This quality is first seen in the beginning of the book; Odysseus is the king of Ithaca and is noble in blood. But Odysseus is not only noble through blood, his actions are often noble. He is very noble when he speaks to the Cyclops, tricking him into drinking his wine which led to him killing the Cyclops. Throughout the book Odysseus nobly stands up for his beliefs. Like when he is on Thrinacia, his men constantly try to convince him to let them kill the cattle of the sun-titan Hyperion. He heeds the warning of Teiresias even when his men were on the brink of starvation, the respect he shows for Teiresias is noble because it is a highly moral thing to do. Telling his two most trusted men to “kill any man who goes near those fatal cattle.”(97). Also another indication of his nobility can be seen when his ships are passing the Sirens. He plugs all the sailors’ ears but his so he can use his hearing to keep the crew safe (141). Being noble is an essential of every epic hero and Odysseus definitely is, not only in blood but also in how he acts.

During the course of the book Odysseus performs amazing tasks and feats, something every epic hero must do. This side of Odysseus is seen throughout the book. Starting on lotus island, after he finds out that the flowers put people to sleep he drags all of his men to the ship. To make this task even more difficult even the smell of the flowers will make people fall asleep. “One by one he carried the sleeping men to the ships/ His strength was going. The honey smell was invading him, making him droop with sleep/ He took his knife and, cutting sharp splinters of wood to prop open his eyelids, staggered back among the men. He worked furiously now, lifting them on his shoulders, carrying them two at a time, throwing them into the ships.” (15).

Not only did he carry his men two at a time, an amazing feat on its own but he also had to do it under the dreamy smell of the lotus flowers. Another amazing feat Odysseus performs is when he is on cannibal beach and keeps the giant at bay while his men escape to safety (45-46). “Ulysses did not lose his wits. /His sword was scything the air; he hacked away at the giant hands that came at him like a flock of huge meaty gulls. He whipped his blade at their fingers, hacking them off at the knuckle joints. His sword smoked with blood.”(45). This shows that Odysseus amazingly fended of a giant at least ten times his size. Lastly at the end of the book when Odysseus returns home to Ithaca he manages to kill about twenty of the suitors that had tried to take his throne. Overall performing amazing tasks and feats is required of an epic hero, and Odysseus definitely does.

As an epic hero Odysseus is able to overcome weakness and temptations that many could not bear. This can first be seen in “The Ciconians” (4-9) when he decides not to attack the city, not giving into temptation. Also later on in the chapter he orders his men to toss over their loot from Troy, he tosses his over first showing that he can overcome greed. “But Odysseus cast over his share of the treasure first- and his was the largest share- so the men had to bite back their rage and keep on rowing.” This shows that Odysseus selflessly got rid of his treasure that he had earned during the Trojan War. Another instance of this characteristic is seen on lotus land; once he realizes that the flowers make him go to sleep he puts them down against his will, overcoming the temptation to eat the seductive flowers.

Also on Cyclops island Odysseus wisely does not run into the open cave with roasting goat meat (which turns out to be a fatal mistake), thinking with his brain instead of his stomach. This characteristic is seen again when Aeolus gives him the mysterious bag and, even though Odysseus was curious, he does not open the bag to see what power it holds, overcoming the temptation to do so. Lastly on Thrinacia Odysseus does not kill the cattle of Hyperion even though his men are dying and on the brink of mutiny. Not only that but Odysseus is also very hungry, this shows that he does not have this weakness listening to the warning of Teiresias instead of to his primitive impulses. Odysseus overcomes weaknesses and temptations that most would give into, and this is a key to all epic heroes.

In the “Adventures of Ulysses” by Bernard Evslin the epic hero Odysseus portrays many traits during the story, that prove he is and epic hero. This can be seen through the fact that he is essentially noble, performs amazing tasks and feats and overcome weakness and temptations that most would not be able to endure. His nobility can be seen through his blood and the actions he performs. Odysseus performs amazing tasks and feats and this can be seen in his actions throughout the book, from lotus land to Ithaca. Lastly he overcomes weaknesses and temptations like greed and pride throughout the book. Overall Odysseus is the quintessential epic hero and probably the greatest.

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