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Hubris of Odysseus and Ozymandias

Excessive pride or hubris becomes a significant concern in Odyssey by Homer and Ozymandias by P.B. Shelley. Hubris defines pride as a destructing quality of a character, which might even be dangerous for the hero and his family and friends. Odysseus and Ozymandias are men from faraway islands; they function as rulers and express superfluous pride. It is interesting to examine the behavior of both characters to understand how they represent hubris.

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For instance, in the Odyssey by Homer, the main hero, Odysseus, is a very proud man who travels for long years. He instantly gets authority in his comrades or ‘men,’ as referred to in the book. It is noticeable because, among the traveling group, only Odysseus has a name. It gives a certain degree of understanding of his pride and confidence. Indeed, his comrades treat him with respect, and it enables Odysseus to commit his deeds.

Next, the episode with a Cyclops is exemplary in demonstrating the excessive pride of the character. Odysseus has a witty character; he is famous for his ability to handle any situation using some sly activities. For example, when he and his men arrive on the island of Cyclops, they are to fight this creature. Firstly, Odysseus wanders around the island and kills goats and sheep. However, instead of “simple” fighting, Odysseus decides to express himself and creates a sly attack on the rival. As a result, several men were killed by the Cyclops, and the excessive pride threatened his comrades. Odysseus damaged the creature’s eye and revealed his actual name, which became an obstacle for the hero. Probably, if he did not name himself, Odysseus’ life would be calm to more extent. However, he decided to say his name, and from that moment, various difficulties and curses were sent on him by Gods. It is an example of how excessive pride can damage the life of a character. Odysseus strived to be a true hero, so he made everything to become a warrior. Indeed, he faced many obstacles because of his wish to become a true warrior.

Ozymandias, the “King of Kings,” referred to in P.B. Shelley’s poem, is a second name for the Egyptian pharaoh Ramses II. Shelley describes him as a powerful and even cruel emperor who did a lot of brutal deeds and conceived multiple wars on the territory of Egypt. Shelley refers to Ozymandias’ actions that resulted in the total decay of the country’s prosperity. According to history, Ozymandias strived to improve Egypt’s political and economic situation; he extended the trade between countries and instructed to build many new organizations. However, multiple bloody battles and wars behind this development led many people to death.

Ozymandias completed many deeds in the eponymous poem that subjected the country to defeat. Shelley emphasizes the egocentricity and atrocity of the ruler, speaking about “lifeless things” that probably used to be alive when the emperor’s hand did not touch them. Moreover, according to the poem, Ozymandias does not conceal that he destroyed the country and left nothing behind it. The “King of Kings” is also a phrase highlighting the excessive pride and overestimation of the ruler’s actions. As in Homer’s Odysseus, Ozymandias is treated with respect by his subjects. Indeed, in this case, the subject supporters seem to be afraid of the cruel ruler, so they support Ozymandias’ ideas and connect to him in committing crimes.

Overall, the excessive pride of Ozymandias and Odysseus is apparent according to the texts. In the Odyssey, the main hero suffers from various difficulties because of his hubris. In Shelley’s poem, Ozymandias boasts of his deeds that negatively affected the fates of country citizens. It makes Ozymandias a cruel emperor who focuses on his profit only. Both texts show how excessive pride can lead to irrecoverable consequences.

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StudyCorgi. (2022) 'Hubris of Odysseus and Ozymandias'. 1 November.

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