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Divine Intervention In The Odyssey Essay

1713 words - 7 pages

Throughout the whole world, people have created religions with gods who can influence one’s life. The Ancient Greeks believed in many deities such as Zeus, Poseidon, Hades and Athena and they all had a specific purpose. In the Odyssey, Homer used these gods to influence Odysseus’ journey home and his life after returning home. As presented in the story, the gods ultimately determine a mortal’s life and leave him with little freedom to exercise his own will as a result of events outside one’s control. This is shown through the gods hindering his journey, prophecies and omens, and support from the gods.
The Odyssey is the story of Odysseus’s journey home to Ithaca after fighting in the ...view middle of the document...

Poseidon, the god of the seas, held a grudge against Odysseus ever since the Trojan War. On his journey, Odysseus encountered Polyphemus, son of Poseidon, who was a Cyclops. In the cave of Polyphemus, Odysseus stuck a pole in his only eye and he blinded him. This greatly angered the Cyclops who tried to catch Odysseus and his men on their way out of the cave. After Odysseus got into his ship, he yelled back to the Cyclops telling him that his name was Odysseus. Telling Polyphemus his name was a choice made from free will, which was not influenced by a predetermined fate but by human errors. Polyphemus prayed to Poseidon and said, “Grant that Odysseus… may never reach his home!” (118). This shows a divine creature overruling the mortal’s will by making sure he never reaches home. After Polyphemus prayed, he “lifted a stone…and flung it” (118). The stone “just missed” Odysseus’s ship, however had the stone destroyed the ship, Odysseus might not have even reached home which would determine Odysseus’s life. In this case, the divine desire reigned over the mortal’s will. The tension between Poseidon and Odysseus caused Poseidon to create stir up many storms meant to slow Odysseus’s journey. When Odysseus was nearby Phaicia, Poseidon saw this and became angry; he did not want Odysseus to be safe. So Poseidon, “gathered up the clouds, and stirred up the deep with his trident” (68). The raft Odysseus was on could not handle the great power of the storm and Odysseus cried out “What will be the end of all this?” (68). In the same way that Polyphemus had the ability to end Odysseus’s life, Poseidon could have done the same. While it may be argued that since nothing really happened to Odysseus, his will was not controlled however; it was in fact controlled because he then had to extend his journey in order to survive. The event of the storm was not man’s doing, rather god’s however Odysseus’s will was restricted through him dealing with this storm. Because the divine creatures hindered Odysseus on his journey, he could not freely exercise his will of getting home. As Odysseus journeyed home, he encountered a nymph, or minor deity, called Calypso who fell in love and imprisoned him. While on Calypso’s island, Odysseus was, “wretched and miserable, Calypso’s prisoner in island and he cannot return to his native land” (62). Odysseus longed to go home; he remembered his family and the people he used to know. Not even his “his subjects remembered that noble prince Odysseus” (62). Odysseus had a strong will to return home, however Calypso hindered this as he “cannot return to his native land”. Here the deities are influencing this mortal’s life because they are stopping Odysseus from doing what he wants, further restraining his freedoms. Deities such as Calypso are major contributors to Odysseus’s fate and restrained will.
In Greek mythology, Hades is god of the underworld, where the dead will go after death. After the encounter with Circe, another nymph,...

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