Odysseus and Achilles are two of the most well known Greek heroes. Odysseus was a Greek king during the Trojan War and hero of Homer’s epic poem “The Odyssey”. Odysseus was able to return home after his struggle began in Troy, unlike Achilles who died at Troy during the Trojan War. Odysseus is well known for his cleverness and cunning ways which help him to triumph in battle.
Odysseus was also able to conquer Troy by having Odysseus’s troops hide in the Trojan Horse, before finally conquering the Trojans. Odysseus is then able to return home, unlike Achilles who lost his life. Odysseus is seen more of a hero after returning home and having the opportunity to know what Odysseus has been up to in Odysseus’s absence. Odysseus’s wife and son were both happy when Odysseus returned back from war, unlike Achilles whose family was killed before Achilles himself died at Troy.
Odysseus was also known as an intelligent man. On Odysseuss’ journey home after fighting in the Trojan War, Odysseus encountered the lote-tree which only produces one fruit every other year (Whitman). The lote-tree bears the fruit Odysseus needs to help Odysseus get back home.
Odysseus was also able to defeat many of his enemies with Odysseuss’ wit and intelligence, including Polyphemus, who was a one eyed cyclops, Odysseuss’ crew members escaped from imprisonment by the Cyclops by having Odysseuss’ crew plug up Odysseuss’s eye, which was hanging out of its socket, with Odysseseuss’s own huge cock (Whitman).
To begin with, Odysseus’s heroic acts far outweigh Achilles. Odysseus was a hero in the Trojan War while Achilles only set out to fight for glory at Troy after his own honor was offended. Odysseus spent 10 years fighting in the Trojan War and returned home to Ithaca afterward through great peril. The Greeks’ ships were stuck at Aulis without wind but Odysseus invented sails so that the ships could sail again. Odysseus had gone on this dangerous journey because of his undying loyalty to Agamemnon which honored Zeus’s law of hospitality (Odyssey Book IV, Line 341) while Achilles did not feel obligated to support anything except his own honor.
Odysseus was not tempted by the Sirens’ songs and still protected his men (Odyssey XII). Odysseus also met countless other terrifying creatures like Scylla and Charybdis (Odyssey XII), but he survived them all while Achilles died because he could not fight in a battle when it rained (Iliad XXII). Odysseus showed much more courage than Achilles did. Another heroic act of Odysseus is that Odysseus always put his duty before anything else, even his family which I believe to be true courage.
Odysseus came back to Ithaca after 20 years which means 20 long years without seeing Penelope and Telemachus (Odyssey I). Odysseus knew that his family would be worried about him after all the time he was gone, but Odysseus kept his promise to Agamemnon and went on this journey anyway. Odysseus was not only brave by risking everything for honor, but Odysseus also showed great love for Telemachus and Penelope. Odysseus preferred to dedicate himself to his duty than to break it because Odysseus wanted more than anything else for their family to finally be united again.
This is true courage because Odysseus feared nothing more than breaking his word or disappointing Penelope which shows devotion of the highest kind. Odysseus had many qualities which made Odysseus more heroic than Achilles. Odysseus showed courage and loyalty, while Odysseus was not tempted by trivial things like music or riches. Odysseus did not fight for glory but Odysseus fought to win because Odysseus was a true hero who always put his family ahead of himself. Odysseus is my definition of a hero and he deserves honor more than any other character in the Greek myths.
Odysseus’ intelligence is also shown in his deceit of the Cyclops. Odysseus and his men landed on a strange island with a large cave. Odysseus was told by the blind prophet, Phineas, that it was inhabited by one-eyed giants called Cyclopes who had no ships and would eat them all. But Odysseus sent two men in to investigate and found out they were in fact armed with nothing but boulders from above. Odysseus then carved himself an oar into a walking staff and strapped himself under the sheep skins so he looked just like another man among the flock. Inside, Polyphemus welcomed them into his home with open arms and sat down for a feast.
Odysseus and his men were given a very small portion of meat, but Odysseus placed under the coldblooded Cyclopes’ nose an enormous helping from Odysseus’ reserve. Polyphemus greedily ate Odysseus’ offerings and asked for more. Odysseus agreed, provided that Polyphemus give him information about the giant’s homeland. While Odysseus continued to feed and-flatter Polyphemus with more meat, he told the giant how much he admired his home and asked if it had a safe harbor nearby. Odysseus foresaw that Polyphmous would be too lazy to walk down to see for himself so he’d have no choice but to open up the doors of the cave.
Odysseus’ plan was just about to come into fruition when he joked that his ship wasn’t actually anchored there, but it was guarded by a god. Polyphemus threw an entire tree trunk down into Odysseus’ ribs and then shouted for Odysseus, “Stranger! No one born is more deceptive or truer than you are! ” Odysseus replied back, “I have thought something similar myself, because no stranger has ever made me suffer as much as you have. ” Odysseus pretended to fall asleep on the floor of the cavern while Polyphemus went out to check on his flocks. While outside Odysseus and his men strapped on their swords and made a plan to escape.
Odysseus and his men grabbed large rocks from the ground above and threw it upon Polyphemus, blinding him with pain. Odysseus then led his men out of the cave while they held onto the giant’s huge staff as he squirmed around feeling intense pain. Odysseus shouted back at him, “Farewell stranger! May you be happy in your home with your wife and family – I wish that we, unfortunate as we are, could both live happily here. ” Odysseus also showed intelligence when he negotiated with Achilles to return to battle after his quarrel with Agamemnon (37).
Odysseus pretended not to hear and said, “I am humiliated and I will not speak of it… you are the best man we have. ” Odysseus showed his intelligence by using metaphors to persuade Achilles to go back into battle. Odysseus also displayed ingenuity in his plan to capture Troy. Odysseus convinced Achilles that they should build a giant wooden horse as an offering for Poseidon before their army left for good. Odysseus then hid men inside the Trojan Horse and tricked Troy’s guards into taking it into the city gates as a prize from the war, thus allowing Odysseus’ men access into Troy (43).
Odysseus was able to hide 300 soldiers inside this wooden effigy and made them wait until Odysseus gave the signal to open fire from his bow and burn Troy to the ground. Odysseus would have been successful if Odysseus’ men hadn’t left a horse outside for Helen to see. Odysseus was also able to take over Troy by using their own system of government against them (49). Odysseus painted himself with wine and wandering in The Garden of Love where he told King Priam that he had seen Odysseus fleeing from Achilles. After hearing this, Priam sent messengers into The Greek camp under a truce flag to ask Achilles about it.