On Being Hubristic

Essay by greekg0d November 2014

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On Being Hubristic

A short definition of the word hubris is generally presented in two words: excessive pride. In the literary world and the world of the Greeks, this is also true with one added element. This overblown pride is the very thing that causes a character's downfall. So hubris might be defined as excessive pride that causes one to fall from a high place, often taking others down as well. While this theme is commonly present throughout Greek works, many significant examples of hubris are to be found in Homer's epic poem The Odyssey and the first of Sophocles' Theban plays, Oedipus Rex. Despite the negative connotation to the word hubris, positive changes in character occur in both The Odyssey and Oedipus Rex

Odysseus' hubris first begins to harm him when he calls his name out to the Cyclops. This creates a domino effect of troubles.

"Again I began to taunt the Cyclops- men around me trying to check me, calm me, left and right: 'So headstrong-- why? Why rile the beast again'...

But they could not bring my fighting spirit round. I called back with another burst of anger, 'Cyclops-- if any man on the face of the earth should ask you who blinded you, shamed you so-- say Odysseus, raider of cities, he gouged out your eye, Laertes' son who makes his home in Ithaca!'" (227).

Just as Odysseus and his men are about to escape, Odysseus just has to yell out his name because his ego is too big to allow him and his men to get away without the Cyclops knowing who it is that has bettered him. He feels the need to show everyone that he, Odysseus, the already great hero is the one who had defeated such a great beast,