98 pages 3 hours read

Bernard Evslin

The Adventures of Ulysses

Fiction | Novel | YA | Published in 1969

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The Hero’s Purpose, in Greek Mythology and Today

Ulysses is one of the earliest literary adventure heroes. His exploits are those of a person of superior strength and skill, yet his greatness lies as much in his character as in his abilities.

Ulysses has many positive attributes. He descends from the god Hermes, who gives him superior strength, intelligence, and fortitude. No one can defeat him in athletic contests. His courage and power on the battlefield are second only to his fellow Greek warriors Achilles and Ajax, who also descend, in part, from gods. Ulysses is a wise king, a dedicated leader, and a crafty strategist. He treats others fairly. Of noble character, he’s willing even to fight monstrous deities to achieve his purpose.

Such heroes are “mythic” because they inherit some of their powers from the mythical gods. (Northrop Frye. Anatomy of Criticism. Princeton University Press, 1957, 2020.) Audiences look up to them and wonder what they could accomplish with Ulysses’s abilities. Mythic heroes today predominantly take the form of superheroes such as Superman, Carol “Captain Marvel” Danvers, Black Panther, and Wonder Woman, who lives on a Greek island and descends from Zeus.

Like the gods, Ulysses is flawed. He behaves arrogantly in victory over the Cyclops, which incurs Poseidon’s unending wrath.

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