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Divine Intervention: Athena's Role in The Odyssey

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Divine intervention is often an integral part of ancient epic poetry as seen in Homer's The Odyssey. The role of the goddess Athena was an essential part of Odysseus's journey back to Ithaka. Athena also played a vital part in Telemakhos's life before the return of his father. Even Penelope is impacted by the help of the "grey-eyed" goddess, often inspiring Penelope to hold off the suitors as well as putting her to sleep when a situation became too difficult. Athena demonstrates that she is a critical component of development within the father Odysseus and his son Telemakhos as well as guiding Penelope as a beautiful mother waiting for the return of her husband.

In The Odyssey, Athena has an extensive and caring relationship with Odysseus. At the beginning of the poem, Athena pleads with her father Zeus to allow her to help Odysseus so he can go home to his family, saying, "But my own heart is broken for Odysseus." Later in the poem she again implores her father for help regarding Odysseus. When he is on the island of Kalypso, Athena tells Zeus that Odysseus "cannot stir, cannot fare homeward, for no ship is left him, fitted with oars-no crewmen or companions." Athena also aids Odysseus as he is sailing away from the islands, checking "the course of all the winds but one, commanding them, `Be quiet and go to sleep'." As Odysseus departs she protects him because it is her desire that he will return home safely after a long absence from his family. At the end of his voyage from the island of Kalypso, Odysseus is again blessed by the guidance of Athena. As he reaches the land he spots a "leaf-bed" and Athena "showered sleep that his distress should end, and soon, soon." It should also be noted that Homer often c...

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...tors up for a contest of using the bow and gray iron which is also the beginning of the end for them.

Ultimately, Athena has a great effect on all three of the main characters within The Odyssey. She is the one who finally sets in motion the return of the great warrior king Odysseus and helps him attain revenge on the suitors once he arrives in Ithaka. Athena helps to make Telemakhos brave and hopeful for his father to return home, giving him the courage and direction he lacked without his father for the first twenty years of his life. Even Penelope received help from the grey-eyed goddess in finding ways to protect herself from the advances of the suitors. Reading the classic epic poem The Odyssey, one can see how the great goddess Athena's relationship with Odysseus, Telemakhos as well as Penelope exemplifies how she impacted everyone she came across.

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