The Birth of the Gods in The Odyssey
Prehistoric man did not question his existence and reality - he just lived as one with nature. When prehistoric man awakened from this simple existence into the world of intelligence, he began to question his existence and reality. Homer’s The Odyssey demonstrated man’s attempt to cope with their own nature through the illusion of the gods, by using them to carry their burdens of hopelessness, helplessness, and fallibility.
The characters of Homer’s The Odyssey struggled with the ineffable reality of the world, therefore they created gods that could carry the burden of their hopeless quest for understanding. The characters created by Homer, because of their intelligence, were finally able to realize the enormity of their world and the hopelessness of ever understanding it all with their incomplete knowledge. So they created gods that could carry the knowledge and wisdom of their world that was unattainable to them as humans, therefore lifting from their shoulders the burden of hopelessness and instilling within them a desire to live and learn. The existence of the faith in these wisdom bearing gods is shown in The Odyssey when Telemachus says,"...in the lap of the gods these matters lie"(155). Telemachus recognized the common knowledge of that time. The gods had more knowledge and wisdom than humans, and that knowledge and wisdom was unattainable to humans.
While the gods held the key to the inexplicable nature of Homer’s world, his characters were able to continue their quest to understand all comprehensible aspects of their world and themselves. When the inexplicable mysteries of the world were no longer a human matter but a matter of the gods, Homer’s characters could embark upon their quest to understand their own nature by attempting to understand the nature of the world around them. In The Odyssey this quest was illustrated by an epic simile when Menelaus said,"As when in the den of a strong lion a hind has laid asleep her new-born sucking fawns, then roams the slopes and grassy hollows seeking food, and by and by into his lair the lion comes and on both hind and fawns bring ghastly doom; so shall Odysseus bring ghastly doom upon these [suitors]"(164). This epic simile compares the revenge of the lion on his den to the revenge Odysseus takes upon his house. Meneluas was able to recognize the animal like characteristic of revenge, therefore he learned that it was also a human characteristic to take revenge. By learning about their own characteristics Homer’s characters could begin to better understand and harmonize with the world.
The god’s existence in that time depended upon mans need for advancement and as that need changed so did Homer’s character's idea of the gods. At the time of Odysseus’s odyssey his fellow humans needed gods who would carry the burden of hopelessness in order to advance their understanding of themselves and their world. But as these humans...