The Odyssey Essay

1169 words - 5 pages

I have seen a lot of interaction, both indirect and direct contacts, between humans and the gods in literature such as the Hesiod, the Odyssey, and the Homeric Hymns, and I would be safe in assuming that petty feuding and revenge on humans acts as a past time for the Greek Gods. Yet, the humans are no better, which is why my essay will argue that the interaction between the gods is negative for humans and we see that demonstrated when humans interact with gods, how the gods interact with humans, and how the gods can act on their own personal motives.
Though the Gods are clearly more powerful than humans, the relationship between the two isn’t as one-sided as one might think. Humans have ...view middle of the document...

Since Odysseus blinded Poseidon’s son, Poseidon blocks Odysseus’s attempts to return home as a punishment (Odyssey 9. 420-630). Even though the Cyclops was a man-eater and Odysseus tried to understandably save himself and the crew, he was constantly held back from ever reaching Ithaca and his crew later died as well. The treatment of humans who could boast no divine ancestry was often exploitative, such as Paris or how Poseidon used the Phacaians to gain respect. When a person or a group of people manages to intervene, either unintentionally or in defense, humanity can suffer grave consequences or a fate of a single person can be depressingly prolonged.
Sometimes the gods performed heroic deeds, but as portrayed in The Odyssey, The Homeric Hymns, and the Theogony, humans often saw the negative side of the gods. First, the gods may have created the humans, but nature is never given explicitly to mankind. For example, Zeus kept the fire hidden from humans and never intended them to have a crucial element to survival (Theogony 117-18 and 561-64). Zeus himself physically intervened, and by taking the fire away, humanity began to die. Secondly, the gods appear to be highly temperamental which can cause a god to violently intervene with humans. For example, Odysseus found the courage and wit to trick the man-eating Cyclops, yet one of the gods, Poseidon, violently intervened by not only make his journey longer but by killing his whole crew and taking his anger out on the helpful Phacaians (The Odyssey). Although Odysseus is labeled a hero and many people want him to get back home, many people are hurt and killed along the way. Finally, the Hymn to Aphrodite describes her power in mixing gods with mortals and how she fell victim to this (34-41). Presumably, no god would mate with a human for multiple reasons while humans would fear or receive retribution if they did. Since Aphrodite existed and had wielding powers over mortals and immortals, some people were emotionally or even physically hurt, such as Eos’ mortal lover. Although these stories may have happy endings, such as the mortals getting their fire, Odysseus return home, and Aphrodite’s pledge to stop, many people were still harmed along the way.
The gods that appear in the Homeric Hymns and Theogony appear to act on personal motives quite often, which can lead to major consequences for mortals. Gods and goddesses alike take...

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