10 Odysseus Strengths and Weaknesses


Also referred to as Ulysses, Odysseus is one of the characters in Homer’s epic, Odyssey and also a protagonist in another Greek epic, Iliad. He was a Greek hero, the son of Anticlea and Laertes, a great leader and eloquent speaker. Odysseus was said to have loved Helen of Troy but ended up marrying, Penelope. He was also behind the making of the famous Trojan horse and known for his adventures in the Underworld. Odysseus had made his mark in leadership and have several traits attributed to him. Here are some of the strengths and weaknesses of the Greek hero:

Strengths of Odysseus

1. Courage
There have been many instances where Odysseus manifested courage. He was said to have helped Ajax and Diomedes to fend off Trojan attacks which resulted to killing their enemies. Also, when Diomedes was wounded by the arrow from Paris, Odysseus defended him until he was able to escape. This was even if he was almost killed in the process as he faced the Trojan soldiers alone. The Greek leader also saved his men against several monsters. Along with his son, Telemachus, Odysseus fought the Cyclops, blinding them during the battle and escaping Calypso. Moreover, in one of the hardships he has faced, he was able to persevere despite the interference of Poseidon while he was traveling at sea. Odysseus showed courage in braving the rough seas, the same courage he showed when he faced the numerous suitors of his wife, Penelope.

2. Intelligence
When it comes to intellectual prowess, Odysseus demonstrated this strength at different times. One was when he was able to persuade Achilles to rejoin the battle, knowing that this will give them leverage over their enemies. Since Achilles was slippery and tried to avoid being found, he disguised as one of the women. Odysseus, on the other hand, was able to identify Achilles among these women by presenting weapons. Achilles was the only one interested in the weapons and when Odysseus sounded the horn, Achilles picked up a weapon and blew his disguise. Perhaps one of the most famous instances where the Greek showed his intelligence was when he planned to attack the Trojans by gifting them with a Trojan horse after Helen of Troy was abducted. Inside the hollow horse were soldiers who attacked the Trojans while they were drunk and asleep.

3. Confidence
Odysseus wanted to go back to Ithaca despite knowing that it will take him years of challenges and hardships. He was confident enough that he had the intelligence, weapons and machinery to make this happen. He believed in himself that he was able to convince his men to follow his orders and listen to what he said. Odysseus was also confident that he can inspire and motivate his men which made it possible for him to lift their morale during the war.

4. Ambition
With his confidence and courage, Odysseus had the goal to win the Trojan War and be recognized as a hero. Just like other gods, he wanted to have a higher status and be known in his society. It was also his goal to return to Ithaca and to his wife and son despite learning that there were already many suitors surrounding Penelope during his years of absence.

5. Physical Strength
Apart from Odysseus traits, he also possessed strength of body. He was able to steer a boat all by himself while passing the raging sea, caused by Poseidon. Odysseus did not only have mental strength but physical strength as well. When his men were tied at the bottom of the ship, he was the last one to hold on until he was able to escape.

6. Nobility
Odysseus also showed that he was a man of sublime character by treating all his men equal even if he had a higher than some of them. Also, this nobility was also shown with how he treated his son. While he was disguised as a beggar and his son entered the room, he offered his seat to the boy.

Weaknesses of Odysseus

1. Pride
Odysseus was also affected by his ego or pride. Despite the warning of not taking the cattle with him to his journey out of Helios, he still went through with it. Also, he refused to make sacrifices when it came to his men both as a sign of his loyalty to his crew and his being proud.

2. Love of Glory
Odysseus, like most Greek heroes, manifested his passion for glory by his wanting to return as a hero of the Trojan War. He loved fame and glory. This was perhaps one of the reasons behind his extreme desire to return to Ithaca after twenty years. Apart from his goal to be with his wife, he also wanted to regain his throne. Lastly, his passion for fame almost always brought hi trouble. He was known to spread his story at every chance he got and one example was when he fought the Cyclops. While he was escaping, he taunted Polyphemus, he was shouting his name.

3. Recklessness
There had also been times that Odysseus’ curiosity, love for fame and sense of immortality had med him take risks and be careless in doing things that he should have avoided. In order to test himself, he went against instructions given to him. Circe, for example, advised him on how he can go home and told him to sacrifice some men. He defied this and continued with his journey. He was also told not to take the cattle of Helios and he did not heed the advice.

4. Stubborness
Circe told Odysseus and his crew to stay away from Helio’s island but he was to hard-headed to follow. His men had many complaints and since he was defiant himself, he allowed his crew dock on the island. Also, while they were on the island, he let his men eat the cattle which enraged Zeus.

Odysseus’ character will remain to be one of the most recognized and popular Greek heroes. His strength, intelligence, bravery and nobility inspire and motivate readers. Although he had weaknesses as well, these serve as a warning and reminder. The epic hero Odysseus was truly a man of character and his strengths and weaknesses serve as a guide worth looking into.

-Flow Psychology Editor