Paper 1 HNRS 2041

Submitted By tylersumrall504
Words: 1742
Pages: 7

Bret Wagner
HNRS 2041 Section 3
Paper #1

A Warrior’s Folly Odysseus, leader of men and protagonist in the Odyssey, possesses numerous characteristics that define his leadership capabilities. As Odysseus began telling tales of his previous adventures throughout the world in the palace of Lord Alcinous, it becomes apparent he has skills and attributes that are considered by many to be godlike. In particular, the episodes where Odysseus shows certain characteristics of himself, including his arrogance after escaping Polyphemus, his inability to learn from previous mistakes, and his decisions on how to properly deal with the Sirens and Scylla all highlight key qualities that exemplify his ability to lead. Odysseus shows great arrogance after escaping Polyphemus by taunting the gargantuan beast after his narrow escape from death. Odysseus, aboard his ship sailing away from the wretched island, decided to abandon the former identity he revealed to Polyphemus when he was asked who was responsible for blinding him, and shouted, “Cyclops, if anyone, any mortal man,/ Asks you how you got your eye put out,/ Tell him that Odysseus the marauder did it,/ Son of Laertes, whose home is on Ithaca” (Odyssey 9-500). This display of cockiness puts the remaining members of his crew at risk, but this does not seem to persuade Odysseus to hold his tongue. This action shows Odysseus’ desire for attention, and that he puts his personal agenda ahead of the safety of his crew. In response to the shout, Polyphemus stated, “Hear me, Poseidon, blue-maned Earth-Holder,/ If you are the father you claim to be./ Grant that Odysseus, Son of Laetres, May never reach his home in Ithaca” (9-522). By revealing his genuine identity, Odysseus falls victim to an array of new problems once Poseidon decides to avenge his one-eyed son. The purpose of revealing his true name is unknown, but it is evident Odysseus enjoys hearing stories and songs of his heroic adventures, and wants to guarantee this is yet another tale of how brave and cunning a warrior he is. Odysseus would have saved his crew valuable time by keeping his mouth shut, but he seems more concerned about comparing his wits to those of his foes. As a leader, the main objective is to keep your followers safe, and to accomplish the task at hand. There was no reason for Odysseus to call back to Polyphemus other than to feed his own ego. It was a demonstration of poor leadership ability, and his cockiness was a flaw that he could never quite overcome. Another characteristic that reflects Odysseus’ capabilities to lead is his inability to learn from past mistakes. When mishaps occur, what a leader learns from that experience separates competent leaders from their counter parts. Competent leaders will analyze a past mistake, determine what should have been done differently in order to obtain the ideal outcome, and use that knowledge to influence future decisions. Without being concerned that his crew’s numbers were already depleted by the Cyclops’ casualties and other disasters, Odysseus decides to send surveyors to scope the new island they sailed to by the name of Lamus. The surveyors came back claiming the land is occupied by monstrous giants, so they boarded their ships to make a hasty escape, although some men and ships were lost in the process. After this catastrophe, a competent leader would determine a better way to explore future islands to avoid more casualties. The ship enters onto the shore of a new island, and Odysseus, being the hard headed leader he is, splits his remaining soldiers into groups of two and sends one off to investigate smoke coming from the island’s woods. Odysseus acknowledges some of the soldiers knew they faced a gruesome fate on the island, and briefly describes their agony, “They wailed and cried, but it did them no good./ I counted the crew off into two companies and appointed a leader for each” (10-218). It is evident the crew was doubtful of Odysseus’ decision making, yet