The importance of wit in the odyssey

The Importance of Wit in The Odyssey Ancient Greeks use their Gods and Goddesses to explain the world around them and also to emphasize their values of honor, wit, and courage. The Odyssey is an epic poem written by Homer that portrays these qualities. In The Odyssey, a Trojan War hero, Odysseus, displays the values the Greeks honor through a twenty-year adventure to arrive home. He faces danger when battling the Cyclops, Polyphemus, and even after arriving home he had to contend with hundreds of suitors to gain back his wife and son. However, he is able to defeat his enemies using his cleverness and with help from allies. The cleverness with which Odysseus deals with the Cyclops and his wife’s suitors helps Odysseus survive so he can eventually return to his homeland. Odysseus’ ability to think on his feet and lie to the Cyclops about the location of his ship, his knowledge not kill the Cyclops, and his capability to create a story that allows the Cyclops to believe his name was Nohbdy proves that Odysseus uses his cleverness to survive and return to his homeland. After being trapped by the Cyclops in his cave, Odysseus knows he has to escape and protect his men. Therefore, when asked by Polyphemus where his ships are, he responds by saying, “ Poseidon Lord, who sets your earth a tremble, broke it up on the rocks at your land’s end, ” (869, lines 228-229). Odysseus knows that he must keep the location of the ship a secret because if the Cyclops finds out that he has more men he will destroy the ship and kill them. For that reason, he tells Polyphemus that Poseidon has destroyed the ship at the other end of the Island, knowing that if the Cyclops went looking for the ship he wouldn’t find anything. Odysseus proves his cleverness once again in this adventure when he doesn’t kill the Cyclops. After the Cyclops fell asleep, Odysseus wants to stab Polyphemus but instead he thinks, “ If I killed him, we perished there as well, for we could never move his ponderous doorway slab aside, ” (469, lines 248-250). Odysseus realizes that the only being able to move the boulder is Polyphemus and as much as he wants to kill him, he uses his wit to hold himself back. After being stuck in the cave for a day, Odysseus starts to form a plan in order to escape. When asked by Polyphemus what his name is, Odysseus replies, “ Remember that gift you promised me, and I shall tell you. My name is Nohbdy: mother, father, and friends all call me Nohbdy, ” (871, lines 314-316). Odysseus proves his cleverness by making up this lie to protect himself, but also so that when Polyphemus cries for help none of the other Cyclops’ will believe him when they ask, “ who is hurting you? ” This will leave Polyphemus stranded with no help from the other Cyclops’ and easier to defeat. Odysseus’ foresight to change his appearance while on Ithaca, his cunning plan and his precaution of hiding the weapons proves that Odysseus uses his cleverness to survive and return to his homeland. When he returns to Ithaca, Odysseus knows that no one except his son, Telemachus, can recognize him. So, with the help of Athena, he is disguised as a beggar that no one will give a second glance, “ Lithe and young she made him, ruddy with sun, his jawline clean, the beard no longer gray upon his chin, ” (896, lines 1018-1020). Athena made him young and changes his appearance to reveal himself to his son; however, she changes him back into a beggar so he can fool the suitors. Odysseus cannot defeat the suitors just by disguising himself, so he forms a plan to defeat the suitors. He tells Telemachus, “ The swineherd later on will take me down the port-side trail-a beggar by my looks, hangdog and old. If they make fun of me in my own courtyard, let your rib cage up your springing heart, ” (900, lines 1121-1126). In order to execute this plan, he must go to the suitors, disguised as a beggar, and challenge them. Odysseus also knows that when the battle between the suitors and his allies start, the extra weapons must be hidden so that only he can access them. After telling Telemachus the plan, he gives him one more request, “ At that point, round up all armor, lances, gear of war left in the hall, and stow the lot away in the back in the vaulted store room, ” (900, lines 1135-1138). All of the weapons that the suitors would have access to are now safe and in a place where only Odysseus and his son can obtain them. Odysseus’s use of cleverness to defeat Polyphemus and the suitors proves that it his wit that is crucial to his success. Throughout his adventure with the Cyclops, Odysseus proves that his cleverness is helpful to him because he was able to escape by lying to Polyphemus to protect his men and himself and also by using his wit to restrain himself from killing the Cyclops. The battle with the suitors shows how Odysseus was able to use his wit and cleverness to defeat the suitors, and without his well thought out plan and knowledge to disguise himself, Odysseus would never have been able to defeat them. Odysseus’ success in the Odyssey does not come his strength of body, but his strength of mind.