This MLA paper summarizes the heroic events involving Odysseus and his leadership skills in the Odyssey. It highlights his heroic feats when plotting for his return with his son. It was written at a high school level to serve as a sample for the Ultius blog.
Interested in leadership strategies? Check out our essay on The Dance of Leadership by Denhardt.
Odysseus’ Leadership and Telemachus’ Tasks
The plan for destroying the 108 suitors Odysseus conceives may be simple on the surface, but required a few things from his son Telemachus before it could be carried out. While in the hall, Odysseus plans to come later in the guise of an old beggar, whom Telemachus must not show any kindness or try and help if he is harassed, not even through kindness. As Odysseus states:
The swineherd will lead me into the city later, looking old and broken, a beggar once again. If they abuse me in the palace, steel yourself, no matter what outrage 1 must suffer, even if they drag me through our house by the heels and throw me out or pelt me with things they hurl — you just look on, endure it. Prompt them to quit their wild reckless ways, try to win them over with friendly words. Those men will never listen, now the day of doom is hovering at their heads (Fagels 347)
Once given the signal by his father, Telemachus’ next move would be to transport all the weapons in the hall to an upstairs storage room where they could not be accessed, save for two swords, two spears, and two bucklers for themselves. Finally, Telemachus is to keep it a secret that his father Odysseus has returned so that none suspect the attack. He is at all times to keep up a false appearance of kindness and happiness with the suitors.
Leadership in the Odyssey
The good leadership qualities Odysseus conveys during his plotting with his son are numerous. The first he displays are his thorough planning and strategizing, laying out the entire plot and details of their attack the way only a skilled and experienced soldier like him could. Another trait shown is his self-control and patience. Odysseus knows they would almost certainly lose a direct encounter with the suitors, so allows himself to play the role of a beggar and appear weak and degraded in order to make observations on them, while keeping his identity secret, as well as be free to give Telemachus the signal to put their plan into action.
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Homer. The Odyssey. Trans. Robert Fagles. New York: Penguin Group, 1996. Print.