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The Role Of The Gods In The Odyssey

1586 words - 6 pages

In determining the role of the Gods in The Odyssey, by Homer, one must ponder where Odysseus would be if the Greek Gods did not exist. If it weren't for Athena, daughter of Zeus, would Odysseus still be able to overcome the challenges he faced from Poseidon (the God of the Sea), Helios (the sun god), Calypso (the goddess-nymph), and Circe (the goddess and enchantress) during his journey home? Would he still experience the same life long lessons in his prolonged journey home which enabled him to grow as character? Would the Odyssey be an odyssey, a long voyage marked by many changes of fortune, if not for the gods who cursed him or those that assisted him? The depiction of the role of the gods played in The Odyssey is presented as both good and evil. The gods play either a savior-like role, as in Jesus Christ, or a tormentor role, as in Satan. For instance, gods such as Athena assist in Odysseus' journey home, while gods like Poseidon hinder his progress. Throughout the Odyssey it is evident that the gods are essential, for they not only serve as plot enhancers, but they also help Odysseus grow as a character and return him to Ithaca as a better and more experienced man than he was when he first left.One god that is essential to the plot and also to the development of Odysseus' character is Athena. Throughout the story Athena serves as the crutch that Odysseus leans on in the times of need. Whenever Odysseus faces trouble, Athena is there to help him out, which she points out when she reminds him that she is, "Pallas Athena, daughter of Zeus- who always stands by you, shields you in every exploit" (13:341-342). From the beginning of The Odyssey, we get a sense of Athena's support of Odysseus when she pleads to Zeus to let Odysseus journey home to Ithaca: Father, son of Cronus, our high and mighty king, Surely he goes down to a death he earned in full! Let them all die so, all those who do duch things.But my heart breaks for Odysseus, That seasoned veteran cursed by fate so long- Far from his loved ones still, he suffers torments Off on a wave-washed island rising at the center of the seas"¦ Olympian Zeus, have you no care for him in your lofty heart? Did he never win your favor with sacrifices Burned beside the ships on the broad plain of Troy? Why, Zeus, why so dead set against Odysseus? Odysseus journey home - the exile must return! (1:54-76) This outcry to Zeus shows the favor that Athena has for Odysseus. Later in Book VI, when Odysseus wakes up on the shore of Phaecia, Athena sends the beautiful Nausicaa a dream instructing her to wash cloths in preparation for an upcoming wedding (6:32-44). Athena makes Nausicaa brave and Odysseus handsome, bringing them together in order to assist Odysseus to the house of the kind. She wants to help get him one step closer to home. In Book 13, Odysseus finally reaches Ithaca and Athena lets him know that she had been on his side all along (13:341-344). She continues to help him by disguising him as a...

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