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Godly Intervention In Homer's The Odyssey

1363 words - 5 pages

Homer’s epic, The Odyssey, centers on Odysseus’s long and arduous voyage home and depicts a world in which the lives of humans and gods are intertwined, with gods often having influence in the fates of humans. Zeus, the king of gods, argues that humans wrongly blame the gods for their troubles and that when the gods intervene, it is only to try and help humans. From his standpoint, any misfortune is the sole responsibility of men and the gods are not to be held accountable. Zeus’s argument about human versus divine responsibility holds some truth, but is inadequate as he is biased towards himself and his fellow gods and only references one specific situation. (Homer I, 48-62) While it is true that men have faults that cause their troubles, the gods often have a hand in creating these dilemmas—whether out of their own whims or out of retribution for wrongs done by humans in the past. Humans and gods share equal responsibility for the fate of mankind, with both humans and gods producing struggles and providing support, which is evident in the journey of Odysseus.
In his journey, Odysseus is frequently met with obstacles that prolong and disrupt his journey, most of which are created by the gods. An example of this is his captivity on the goddess Kalypso’s island. She keeps him there of her own will despite his opposition, desiring Odysseus as a mate. She “clung to him in her sea-hollowed caves—/ a nymph, immortal and most beautiful,/ who craved him for her own” (Homer I, 23-25). Her selfish actions are recognized by Athena, who tells Zeus “His daughter will not let Odysseus go,/ poor mournful man; she keeps on coaxing him/ with her beguiling talk, to turn his mind from Ithaka” (Homer I, 75-78). In Zeus’s argument, he says “My word, how mortals take the gods to task!/ All their afflictions come from us, we hear” (Homer I, 48-49). He is complaining that humans blame the gods for their problems, but in this situation, Odysseus can blame Calypso for delaying his journey home. This is a case where a divine being causes hardship for a human, due to no fault of the human, but instead, the desires of a goddess.
Another cause of struggle for Odysseus in his journey is Poseidon’s wrath. Right after Odysseus finally leaves Kalypso’s island, Poseidon creates a storm that almost kills him and causes him to be moored on yet another island. Poseidon’s actions, however, are not entirely arbitrary as they are in return for Odysseus’s own actions. Odysseus blinds Polyphemôs, a Kyklops and son of Poseidon during his journey. Odysseus’s act of violence is justified, as Polyphemôs keeps him and his crew captive, threatening to eat them all. Odysseus’s flaw of hubris, or pride, though, is what causes him to get into trouble. He had already escaped Polyphemôs clutches and could have escaped without Poseidon knowing his identity, but his pride causes him to reveal himself. He continues to taunt the Kyklops after escaping, and his crew recognizes his foolishness and...

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