The Odyssey

by: Homer

Protagonist

Main ideas Protagonist

The Odyssey’s protagonist is Odysseus, “the man of twists and turns.” The action of the poem is driven by Odysseus’s desire to return home and assert his claim to his house and family. We first encounter Odysseus on an island, where he has been the prisoner of the nymph Calypso for seven years. He seems a broken man. He spends all day weeping and all night in a kind of sexual servitude to Calypso. As soon as Calypso offers Odysseus the chance to escape, he is ready to jump into action, even though the risks of leaving—on a hastily-built raft—are great. He washes up in Phaeacia, where he recounts the story of his travels and we learn about the many obstacles that Odysseus has already overcome in his quest to return to Ithaca. All of the action of this portion of the poem is incited by Odysseus’s decisions, which are driven by his desire to return home and his duty to his men. In the second half of the poem, Odysseus completes his homecoming by defeating the suitors who have occupied his house. By killing the suitors and reclaiming his home, Odysseus shows that his many trials have only made him stronger.