The ideals of heroism in the Iliad contrast with those of the Odyssey in various ways.
The most notable
difference lies in the traits of each poem’s most prominent hero.
Secondly, the two poems differ in the destiny of
their respective heroes.
Lastly, the heroes of the Iliad and the Odyssey have very different character development,
or lack thereof.
The main heroic characters of the Iliad and the Odyssey, Achilles and Odysseus, respectively, possess very
Achilles, on one hand, is described as the most powerful warrior in the Iliad.
exceeds that of any other character in either poem, contributing to his heroic status.
Achilles uses his brute force
and superhuman strength to kill Hektor at the end of the Iliad, which is the first step leading to Troy’s eventual
However, his arrogance and pride throughout most of the poem, provoked by Agamemnon’s betrayal,
prevent him from engaging in battle.
Odysseus, in contrast, is primarily characterized by his wisdom.
using force to attain success, he uses intellect.
In book 9 of the Odyssey, for example, Odysseus uses his intellect to
free himself and his soldiers from Polymephus’ imprisonment.
Odysseus devises a plan to blind Polyphemus, then
escape from his cave by clinging to the monster’s sheep.
This cunning trick proves to be successful, as Odysseus
and his men escape safely from the Cyclops.
Both the Iliad and the Odyssey are similar in that the heroes of both stories are subject to fate.
the respective fates of the heroes differ tremendously.
In the Iliad, Achilles must decide between one of two fates.
In Book 9, he describes these two fates.
If he stays to fight the Trojan war, he will live a short but glorious life.
However, if he abstains from battle, he will live a long life without glory.
Achilles’ fate is sealed when he decides to
fight Hektor and avenge Patroklous’ death, toward the end of the Iliad.
Although Achilles does not die during the
Iliad, his glorious life is cut short prior to the end of the Trojan war.
In this way, Achilles’ fate forces him to make a
decision between glory and a long life.
Conversely, Odysseus is not confronted with such a decision in the Odyssey.