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The Odyssey

The Odyssey


by Homer

The Odyssey Odysseus Quotes


Quote 19

(Odysseus:) ‘Nevertheless we sailed on, night and day, for nine days, and on the tenth at last appeared the land of our fathers, and we could see people tending fires, we were very close to them. But then the sweet sleep came upon me, for I was worn out with always handling the sheet myself, and I could not give it to any other companion, so we could come home quicker to our own country; but my companions talked with each other and said that I was bringing silver and gold home with me, given me by great-hearted Aiolos, son of Hippotas; […] and the evil counsel of my companions prevailed, and they opened the bag and the winds all burst out. Suddenly the storm caught them away and swept them over the water weeping, away from their own country.’ (10.28-36, 46-49)

Could Odysseus’s pride be the culprit here? If he had told his men what was in the bag rather than lording it over them, they never would have opened the sack. On the other hand, his men’s sense of pride is responsible too—because they are too high-and-mighty to just put up with what their captain tells them.


Quote 20

(Odysseus, in his tale:) 'Aias, son of stately Telamon, could you then never even in death forget your anger against me, because of that cursed armor? The gods made it to pain the Achaians, so great a bulwark were you, who were lost to them. We Achaians grieved for your death as incessantly as for Achilleus the son of Peleus at his death, and there is no other to blame, but Zeus; he, in his terrible hate for the army of Danaan spearmen, visited this destruction upon you. Come nearer, my lord, so you can hear what I say and listen to my story; suppress your anger and lordly spirit.' (11.553-562)

Talk about pride: Telamonian Aias was so invested in being #1 that he killed himself when Odysseus won Achilleus's armor. We guess he his #1 in something: being a sore loser.


Quote 21

(Odysseus, in his tale:) "Come then, goddess, answer me truthfully this: is there some way for me to escape away from deadly Charybdis, but yet fight the other off, when she attacks my companions?" 'So I spoke, and she, shining among goddesses, answered: "Hardy man, your mind is full forever of fighting and battle work. Will you not give way even to the immortals? She is no mortal thing but a mischief immortal, dangerous, difficult and bloodthirsty, and there is no fighting against her, nor any force of defense. It is best to run away from her." (12.112-120)

Odysseus isn't one to back down from a challenge, but Circe has news for him: there's no way out of Scylla and Charybdis without losing some men. The fact that Odysseus actually listens to Circe instead of trying to fight anyway shows us that—just maybe—he's starting to tamp down some of the pride that got him into this mess in the first place.