Odysseus vs Gandhi Essay

Published: 2020-04-22 08:25:15
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A hero, a mythological or legendary figure often of divine descent endowed with great strength or ability (Merriam-Webster). There are two types of heroes, epic heroes and modern heroes. Odysseus, one of the most famous epic heroes ever, will be compared to Mahatma Gandhi, a modern day hero, to see if there really is a large gap separating the two types. However, one thing is certain, modern heroes can be identical to epic heroes if they are larger than life, embody the ideals of their culture, embark on a perilous journey, and possess super-human, prominent characteristics.

Epic heroes are always larger than life; however, modern day heroes can achieve amazing feats too. Odysseus, an epic hero, demonstrated this through the gods interference with his affairs. Poseidon played a major role in knocking Odysseus off course (Applebee, 912). Also, he is so famous, that people all over Greece know him. For instance, the Phaeacians sung about Odysseus triumph in Troy to Odysseus just a couple of years after it happened (Mythweb). Gandhi, my hero, achieved independence for his country using only nonviolent protest.

This is shown by the Salt March, in which he embarked on a 240 mile march, protesting about the British salt tax, which made it illegal to sell or produce salt, allowing a complete British monopoly (Thenagain). Also, he has quotes that will live on forever, such as, Where there is love there is life, You must be the change you wish to see in the world, and, An eye for eye only ends up making the whole world blind (Proverbia). These quotes are some of the most used and repeated quotes of all time.

In different ways, Odysseus and Gandhi are both larger than life, proving that epic heroes and modern day heroes arent very different after all. Another characteristic of epic heroes would be how they embody the ideals of their culture. In The Odyssey, Odysseus warns Polyphemus, a giant, man-eating cyclops, that it would face Zeus wrath if he doesnt treat him nicely (Applebee, 902). This shows us how the Greeks care a lot about a healthy host-guest relationship and vice-versa. The latter is proven when Odysseus slaughters the suitors who didnt behave well at his castle in his absence (Applebee, 955-960).

Also, having their lives spared, the two shepherds were rewarded for remaining loyal to Odysseus, proving that the Greeks admire those who are loyal (Applebee, 947-948). Gandhi, on the other hand, embodies the nonviolence of his culture. Within a month of him simply gathering salt from a beach in Dandi, people all over India were making salt illegally, and more than 100,000 were sent to jail; many fell victim to police violence, but none retaliated or even defended themselves (Herman, 99-101). In fact, as the wise Mahatma once said, Anger is the enemy of non-violence and pride is a monster that swallows it up.

Gandhi also embodies the humbleness of his people. In fact, a man wearing Gandhis picture around his neck considered Gandhi to be the sole cause of his recovery from paralysis (since he recovered after uttering the Mahatmas name). Seeing this, Gandhi said, It is not I but God who made you whole. Now will you not oblige me by taking my photograph off your neck (Fischer, 288-289). This shows Gandhi doesnt view himself as more than another average man, an amazing trait. Embodying the values in ones culture is also another shared aspect between epic heroes and modern day heroes, narrowing the rift between the two kinds even more.

An epic hero always embarks on a long perilous journey. The Odyssey, describes Odysseus journey home in a very detailed way. Odysseus faces many dangers on the way, including Polyphemus, a ferocious, one-eyed giant, Circe, a deceptive enchantress, and two sea monsters, Scylla and Charybdis. Polyphemus was a big threat to Odysseus and his crew because he was going to devour all of them, ending their journey (Applebee, 906). Also, if Hermes, the messenger god, didnt warn Odysseus about Circes powers, he would be another smelly swine on her island (Applebee, 920).

Lastly, when Circe didnt warned Odysseus Odysseus that he has to lose six men in order not to get sucked into Charybdis, a whirlpool, Odysseus may have never returned (Applebee, 930-931). Gandhi has gone on a long journey too, the journey to give his country independence. Gandhi began to think of ways for his voice to be heard, but not to hurt anyone. He immediately had followers that joined him in his passive protests. Gandhis protests didnt always go as planned. In fact, he was imprisoned on numerous occasions, including the years 1922, 1930, 1933, and 1942.

Just because he was in jail didnt mean he would stop fighting for his rights. One of Gandhis most famous protests was the Salt March from March 12 to April 5, 1930. Gandhi and thousands of Indians marched 400 kilometers to produce their own salt. This was a major statement because any money spent on salt that was bought in India went to Britain. After his march, thousands of people were jailed, but were later freed when Gandhi and Lord Irwin negotiated a deal. Finally in 1947, India declared independence from Britain (Myhero)(Thenagain).

Both Gandhi and Odysseus embarked on long, perilous journeys, proving to us once again that a modern day hero can have similar experiences with an epic hero. One trait Odysseus shared with Gandhi is leadership. Odysseus shows his leadership skills countless times in The Odyssey. One of the times it was most apparent was when he saved his men from being trapped on the isle of the Lotus-eaters; All hands aboard: said Odysseus, come, clear the beach and no one taste the Lotus, or you lose your hope of home (Applebee, 898).

Another scene where Odysseus leadership skills shine is when he goes back to rescue his men from Circes hall. Eurylocus tells Odysseus what has happened and begs his captain to sail away from Circes island. Against Eurylocus advice, however, Odysseus rushes to save his men from the enchantress (Applebee, 920). Gandhis leadership skills were the sole reason for Indias independence. On March 12, 1930, Gandhi and 78 male activists of truth and resolution (satyagrahis) started their 23-day-long journey.

To each village they passed, Gandhi gave a speech, and more men joined the march each time (Thenagain). This shows Gandhi was able to lead one of the most influential nonviolent protests India has ever seen with ease, using his speaking skills to embolden the shy into joining the resistance. It was he, Mahatma Gandhi, who led the Salt March. That march began a series of protests that resulted in the closing of many British shops and mills (Thenagain), and ultimately the independence of India.

Leadership skills are yet another aspect that forms the close resemblance of the two heroic types, epic and modern. Bravery, the classic heroic quality, is what separates heroes from average men. Odysseus and Gandhi, both being heroes, do not lack this quality, but instead it thrives and prospers within their souls. Odysseus exhibits his bravery on countless occasions; one of them being when he worked up the courage to ask the giant cyclops Polyphemus, after seeing the petrifying beast for the first time, to treat them well, lest it face the wrath of the gods. ¦as is custom to honor strangers.

We would entreat you, great Sir, have a care for the gods courtesy; Zeus will avenge the unoffending guest (Applebee, 902). Gandhi has also shown ample amounts of bravery during his journey; an amazing feat showing this being when he started picking tiny lumps of salt in Dandi after his march (), an illegal act. This simple action, this minor crime, this is the pebble that started the rockslide, the small offense which caused India to be free. Heroes, these brave beings cause great things, no matter what type they are.

Heroes, by definition, people noted for feats of courage or nobility of purpose, especially one who has risked or sacrificed his or her life (Thefreedictionary), are classified into two types. Is there a vast difference between these two types, epic and modern? The answer is that it is plausible for a modern hero to be thought of as an epic hero if he/she has defining, distinctive traits, is larger than life, goes on some sort of dangerous trip, and personifies the values of his/her culture.

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