Athena student essay

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
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