(Click the themes infographic to download.)
First, Odysseus fights a 10-year-long war. Then, he almost loses his men to a bunch of druggies, is captured by a Cyclops, wins Poseidon's wrath, gets blown years off course, encounters an island full of cannibals, sees all his men turned into pigs and has to sleep with a with to get them turned back; goes to the underworld; passes a six-headed man-eating monster and a giant whirlpool; loses all his men; and finally spends seven years as a sex slave to a goddess. Oh, and when he finally makes it home, he has to kill a hall full of suitors while disguised as a beggar. Through it all, he just keeps on keeping on, heading straight into one disaster after another because, shrug, that's just the way the gods want it to be.
And you thought it was a feat of perseverance just to make it through the Odyssey.
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Questions About Perseverance
- Which is a more vital skill for Odysseus on his journey home—cunning or determination?
- Odysseus is declared god-like in his ability to persevere. How is it that he possesses such "iron" determination? What is it about him and his experiences that might give him greater perseverance than other men?
- Does Odysseus ever waver in his determination to return home?
- How does Penelope endure at home in Ithaka? How are her tactics of persevering different from Odysseus'?
Chew on This
Penelope deserves to be praised for her endurance just as much as Odysseus does.
Homecoming is Odysseus' reward for perseverance. If he'd ever given up or despaired, he would never have made it home.