Prompt: While Odysseus is clearly the protagonist, which character would you argue is the true hero of The Odyssey? Although Odysseus is the protagonist of Homer’s epic, Athena is undeniably the true hero of The Odyssey because she is selfless, helpful, and inspirational, ultimately leading to the reuniting of Odysseus with the kingdom of Ithaca and his struggling family. Goddess Athena inspires Telemachus and Odysseus using her multiple disguises, guiding them through any hardships they face. While countlessly deceiving the two men Athena manages to influence Odysseus and Telemachus into doing certain actions that they would not have otherwise. “Rousing words- but she gave no all-out turning of the tide, not yet, she kept on testing Odysseus and his gallant son, putting their force and fighting heart to proof” (22.246-250). Athena’s words inspired Telemachus and Odysseus to fight stronger and with more heart. Doing this results in the father and son killing all the suitors and taking back their kingdom.
In Homer’s epic, The Odyssey, Athena constantly assists Odysseus and Telemachus throughout their journeys’ allowing them to achieve their nearly impossible missions without realizing they are being helped. Athena performed many acts that were essential to the characters’ journeys. “At his command, concentrating their shots, all six hurled as one, but Athena sent the whole salvo wide off the mark- one hit the jamb of the great hall’s doors, another the massive door itself, and the heavy bronze point at a third ashen javelin crashed against the wall” (22.267-272). During the great battle against the suitors Athena uses her powers to change the direction of the suitors’ arrows, potentially saving the lives of Odysseus, Telemachus, the swineherd, and the cowherd, giving them the chance to shoot the suitors. Athena’s actions greatly aided the Prince and King when taking revenge on the suitors.
Athena’s selfless characteristic is continuously shown throughout Telemachus’ and Odysseus’ adventures by using her immortal powers to make sure the father and son experience smooth and successful journeys. Athena gains nothing by helping Telemachus and Odysseus, yet she still wants the best for their family and kingdom. “Father, son of Cronus, our high and mighty king! If now it pleases the blissful gods that wise Odysseus shall return-home at last-let us dispatch the guide and giant killer Hermes down to Ogygia Island, down to announce at once to the nymph with lovely braids our fixed decree: Odysseus journeys home-the exile must return! While I myself go down to Ithaca, rouse his son to a braver pitch, inspire his heart with courage” (1.97-105). Athena is the only god or goddess that makes any effort on helping Odysseus. She realizes that doing all of this will have no affect on her and yet she still takes the time and energy to help. Because of Athena’s selfless characteristics, she chooses to aid Odysseus’ pilgrimage, resulting in a safe journey home to his family and throne.
In Homer’s epic, the protagonist, Odysseus is commonly known in society as the hero, but upon further analysis, Pallas Athena is unmistakably the true hero of The Odyssey.Athena being selfless, contributive, and inspirational, are not only heroic qualities, but she also uses them in heroic ways throughout Odysseus’ journey. If Athena had not had these characteristics, she would not have performed the certain actions that led Odysseus to complete his journey. In doing so Athena was the main cause that reunited Odysseus with his kingdom and his suffering family.