The Odyssey

by: Homer

Antagonist

Odysseus faces many antagonists who obstruct his journey home. The god Poseidon does everything he can to prevent Odysseus returning to Ithaca. Monsters and immortal beings try to kill or capture him. Odysseus’s own men obstruct him often, particularly when they defy his and the gods’ commands not to kill the Cattle of the Sun. Above all, Odysseus must battle his own weaknesses. His greed gets him trapped in the Cyclops’ cave, and his pride causes him to reveal his name to the Cyclops, who calls down Poseidon’s wrath. He succumbs to the temptation of luxury and stays with Circe for a full year. War itself may also be considered an antagonist in the poem – war is what separated Odysseus from his home, and he spends much of the poem battling the traumas he and his men suffered in the Trojan War. For instance, Odysseus says that Circe’s luxuries appealed to his and his men’s “battle-hardened spirits.” While Odysseus’s identity as a warrior is often praised and celebrated in the poem, war itself is presented as a divisive force separating men from their families and causing misery and pain.