The enduring lesson of book 9 is hard to miss: brains over brawn. Yet the pattern for Greek heroes have not emphasized this. Perseus, Theseus, Hercules, Achilles, Agamemnon, and others too numerous to list have all possessed intelligence, but it’s been subsumed behind their battle prowess. Like most fighters in Dungeons & Dragons campaigns, they take up their big-ass swords and proceed to execute their problems.
But then this might explain why so many of the Greek heroes faced tragedy in the end. Few of those who went to Troy made it back alive. Of those, many suffered a horrible death after returning. Odysseus comes face-to-face with many of them in book 11, and learns of the peril waiting him at home. In order to triumph, he must be clever to the point that he has to keep his militant urges in check, as he did with Polyphemus.
This kind of restraint is not typically Greek. Even Odysseus can’t fully temper it in the end as he has to proclaim his superiority over Polyphemus. But to overcome the obstacles waiting at home (and we’ll get there) he’ll have to give up the idea that physical strength can overcome. In a sense, he’ll have to give up Odysseus.
The focus on intelligence is one of the more enduring qualities of The Odyssey, and probably explains its popularity over The Iliad. Obviously, there are other reasons, but when the epic became a recorded written work, certainly people of education held more appreciation for a hero who thinks over one yells out “Hulk Smash!” as a means of problem-solving. He endures today as one of the most remarkable heroes of mythology while others have been forgotten (some unjustly so, but we’ll rectify that . . . eventually).