The Odyssey Of Heroism: Odysseus And Winston Churchill

1408 words - 6 pages

As time moves on, and empires rise and fall, new cultures are developed, each with different values and traits. Glory in battle, saving repressed people, and other such great tasks win individuals the public’s veneration. While human civilizations have evolved, the idea of what characteristics a hero embodies has endured. By comparing the values of justice, intelligence, and courage in Odysseus, the king of Ithaka in ancient Greek mythology, and Winston Churchill, the leader of Great Britain during the Second World War, the similar traits displayed will prove the continuity of the heroic ideal, as well as Odysseus’s validity as a modern-day hero.

By fighting their respective battles for a ...view middle of the document...

While Churchill fought for years to hold political office, Odysseus had fought years for the chance to return home to his loved ones. Returning to find his home in shambles, his servants oppressed, and his wife being courted by the offenders, Odysseus’s final fight is not merely for the sake of blood revenge, but for the restoration of his home. Much like Churchill’s war, Odysseus fights for the rights of the individual. In standing up for himself, his wife, the repressed servants, and his remaining supporters, Odysseus fights for justice in Ithaka.

Through cunning political tactics, Odysseus and Churchill both display their intelligence and guile by influencing the thoughts of others in order to serve their own goals. Odysseus has need of his deceptive tactics when trapped by the kyklops Polyphemus. Asked where his ship was by the hulking giant, Odysseus replies, “My ship? Poseidon Lord, who sets the earth a-tremble, broke it up on the rocks at your land’s end. A wind from seaward served him, drove us there. We are survivors, these good men and I” (Homer, 153). Churchill’s political nature, typically used to convince people of the correctness of his opinion, shines brightly with his speech preceding the Battle of Britain. Faced with a ruthless enemy bearing down on his nation, he proclaims, “Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands. But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age...” (Their Finest Hour n. pag). With the Battle of Britain looming on the horizon, Churchill knew that if the Nazis were victorious, the war would be lost. In order to be victorious, each and every single person needed to be aware of what rode on the outcome of that battle. Churchill needed the fighting strength of an entire nation, and with that speech the nation rose to his call. Odysseus, conversely, knowing full well the consequences of telling Polyphemus where his crew was, manages to manipulate the cyclops into believing that there are no people who might save them, nor ships to carry them away. In this manner, not only does Odysseus save the lives of his crew, but he also keeps a route of escape open. A less honorable manipulation than Churchill’s it might be, but the fact remains that Odysseus did what he had to in order to ensure that as many people survived as possible, which is as honorable a cause as any. In truth, this was the cause of both men, whose guile saw them through to the end of their conflicts, both victorious.

Even in the face of a dire threat, both Odysseus and Churchill stand their ground, displaying their courage and motivation to be victorious at all costs. In his battle to reclaim his home, after his son asks to go and fetch equipment, Odysseus says to him, "Run...

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