Leadership is an essential part for any group in a society that wants to be successful at whatever it’s trying to accomplish. Without a leader the group will not be able to achieve their goals. The group will instead be lost and confused. However, after that goal has been meet, does the leadership diminish as well? The passion that once was there to lead the group might not exist anymore. The wealth that the group has achieved will most likely outweigh the strength of the leadership that once excited. Also the group’s willingness to listen to their leader will also decrease. In book IX of The Odyssey of Homer, Odysseus’ leadership starts to decline, as his group was able to reach the goal that they had set out to accomplish.
The Greeks believed in the importance of social order and rituals, and one of those included having good leadership abilities. Odysseus has always portrayed himself as a true leader. He is the strongest and most powerful out of all of the men. He believed that he was the one that was responsible for leading his men to victory in the first battle against the Kikonians. Odysseus and his men defeated the Kikonians in battle and were rewarded with the war spoils that the Kikonians had to give to them. However, some of Odysseus’s men became greedy and took more possessions than was granted. They were just excited by the new fortunes that they had obtained. They did not listen to Odysseus because they had already gotten what they wanted. This caused the Kikonians to become frustrated by the way Odysseus and his people were dishonoring the social ritual of good hospitality. It will later lead to a second attack by the Kikonians and some of its’ neighbors against Odysseus and his men. This starts to demonstrate the decline of Odysseus’ leadership abilities.
In terms of the type of social order that the Greeks believed in, a good leader is someone that is honest, humble, not greedy and has to be willing to sacrifice himself for the benefit of the whole. Additionally, he needs to have goals and not allow anything to get in the way of what he is trying to accomplish. Odysseus felt that he was a fair and equal leader. It is quoted as saying on lines forty through forty-two, “I sacked the city and killed their people, and out …his proper portion.” The quote makes it seem that he was easily able to lead his men to victory against the Kikonians. There were not many true obstacles that stood in their way of obtaining victory against the Kikonians. Additionally, from the quote Odysseus shows himself as not being greedy and honest. This is done by when he talked about the war possessions and how he believed that all of his men deserved an equal share. This is a sign of a leader that is not greedy and honest. Furthermore, on lines forty-seven through fifty-one, it states “…more numerous and better men, well skilled in fighting men with horse…” In this phrase, Odysseus is trying to show that even thought his men were outnumbered and that the Kikonians had better materials to fight the war. He would not let his men become discouraged and just give in to the Kikonians. Odysseus is trying to show that he is direct minded and would rather end up dead than to quite the battle. However, after Odysseus and his men conquered the Kikonians and got their possessions, his leadership also declines.
Odysseus claims that he was a good leader towards his men and the people of Greece. However in reality, he ends up failing terribly. He does not live up to the standards of social order of what a good leaders should be. Instead, he tries to cut corners and makes it seem like he possessed good leadership to his people. Instead he can be considered in many ways to be selfish and the exact opposite of what a good leader should be. As stated earlier in lines forty through forty-two, “I sacked the city and killed their people, and out…his portion.” The quote is expressed in the first person instead of “we”. Even though Odysseus would have never have been able to have defeated the Kikonians without the help of his men, he still gives himself the most of the credit for their success. The next few lines afterwards are quoted as “…but they were greatly foolish…lumbering horn-curved cattle.” In times of prosperity Odysseus wants to be known as the main person that was responsible for it. However when times start becoming difficult he wants out of the recognition. So, is that what a good leader should be like? Odysseus has to be there for his men and the people of Greece through both the good and bad times. What he is doing is blaming his men for the second attack by the Kikonians and not himself. If Odysseus was indeed a good leader, he should have stepped in and try to prevent his men from being greedy. The second attack would have easily been avoided if they did not stick around as long as they did.
Additionally, Odysseus tries to place pity (pathos) towards his audience to show that he tried his best at being a good leader. As lines fifty-one through fifty-four states, “ They came early morning…Zeus was evil, to make us unfortunate.” Here Odysseus is trying to blame Zeus for not being behind him and his men in the battle. He is also trying to demonstrate to the audience that even though Zeus did not support them in protect them, they still went out and fought as best as they could against the Kikonians. Another example of pathos that Odysseus tries to install in his audience is when he talked about the Kikonians having many more men then they did and how they also had horses to aide them in the battle. Just as in the case of Cabeza de Vaca, Odysseus tries to use rhetoric to try and defend himself against his failures. In the case of The Odyssey of Homer, Odysseus is trying to sound as heroic as possible, to cover up for the death of six of his men. Death is inevitable whenever there is a battle; however it the way the six of Odysseus’ men died could have been prevented. He should have been more authoritative in his orders. However, true leadership does exist in the Odyssey as can been seen in the case of the Phaiakians and the Gods. The Phaiakians functioned very well under the leadership of Alkinoos. They are the protégée of how social order for exhibiting good leadership should function in the Greece culture. Alkinoos made sure that all of his people were treated equally and he was not corrupt as a leader. He knew not to look at his ambitions for personal wealth to interfere with his duties as a leader for his people. Another good example of good leadership that was under the Greeks’ belief of social order can be found in the Gods. Leadership will function correctly for the most part when the people listen to the Gods. An example of that is when, the family of the Suitors and Odysseus were going to fight due to what he did to their sons. However, Athena stepped in and prevented it from occurring. She told them that they had to make friendship between the Oikos or else there will never be peace in Greece. To her demands for peace, all the people listened. The main difference between Athena and Alkinoos’ and that of Odysseus’ leadership is that they were more respected by their people. The people were willing to listen to and trusted them. When the people stop listening to their leader then bad things will arise. As can be seen by the second attack by the Kikonians.
The ability to exhibit leadership is an important aspect to the Greeks belief of social order. Leadership is determined by the people’s willingness to put their trust into that leader. If the people stop listening to their leader, then the leadership will surely diminish. Consequently, it will lead them left open to an attack and it will weaken that group. In The Odyssey of Homer, Odysseus’s leadership declines as his people stop listening to him.
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