Thursday, July 29, 2010

Definition of hero

Odysseus has just been challenged by Alkinoos as to why the gods have not made more of a spectacle of him. Odysseus is slightly annoyed and replies as follows:

Alkinoos, let something else be in your mind; I am not
in any way like the immortals who hold wide heaven,
neither in build nor stature, but only to men who are mortal.
Whoever it is of people you know who wear the greatest
burden of misery, such are the ones whom I would equal
for pain endured, and I could tell of still more troubles
that are all mine and by the will of the gods I suffered.
But leave me now to eat my dinner, for all my sorrow,
for there is no other thing so shameless as to be set over
the belly, but she rather uses constraint and makes me think of her,
even when sadly worn, when in my heart I have sorrow
as now I have sorrow in my heart, yet still forever
she tells me to eat and drink and forces me to forgetfulness
of all I have suffered, and still she is urgent that I must fill her.

From 'Odyssey' by Homer translated by Lattimore, p. 116-7

A hero is someone who takes all that the gods throw at him / her and keeps going. Odysseus surely took more than his fair share and he didn't spend his time trying to change things, he accepted it and all he wanted was a quiet life and a good meal.

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