Character of Athena in Homer's Odyssey
Imagine living in another world and time, one where you were not
only a god but could also take the form of any object or person that you chose.
Athena, the daughter of Zeus, has this ability. Of all the characters in the Odyssey
the most interesting to me is Athena
. In my opinion, she guides the main
characters of the Odyssey in the right direction. She kind of looks over
their shoulders and serves as a guardian angel.
Athena makes Telemachos go to Pylos and Sparta. Athena says, "My
advice to you is this, if you will let me advise you. Get the best ship
you can find, put twenty oarsmen aboard, go and find out about your father
and why he is so long away. Perhaps some one may tell you, or you may hear
some rumour that god will send, which is often the best way for people to
get news." (Homer
17) If not for Athena, Telemachos might have taken his
father for dead and encouraged his mother to marry one of her suitors. But
Athena, under the disguise of Mentes advises Telemachos to go on a journey
to try to find out what happenened to Odysseus. This is important because
the journey of Telemachos played an important part of his becoming a man.
Athena also rescued Odysseus from certain death at the hands of
Poseidon Earthshaker and brought him to the island of Phaiacia. "Now it
was the turn of Athenaia the daughter of Zeus, and this was her plan. She
tied up the courses of all the other winds, and commanded them to rest and
be quiet; but she sent a steady wind from the north and broke down the
waves in front of Odysseus, that he might make his way and save himself
alive." (Homer 70) At this point in the novel Posiedon is enraged with
Odysseus because he is about to make it home. It seems every time that
Odysseus is about to make it home, Poseidon is reminded that Odysseus
killed his son Polyphemos. Again Athena saves Odysseus, this time from
Charybdis. "Then his skin would have been torn off and all his bones
broken, if Athena had not put a thought into his mind; he flung himself
upon a rock and caught hold with both hands, and clung there groaning,
until backwash rolled upon him again, and caried him far out into the sea."
(Homer 71) Charybdis was a whirlpool that shot up water before it sucked
everthing down. Odysseus grabbed the branch and was swept away while the
whirlpool was resting.
Furthermore, Athena planned how Odysseus could return to his home
and kill the suitors. This was done in a few steps. "Odysseus awoke. He
lay on his native soil, and knew it not, since he had been long absent.
For Pallas Athena herself, that divine daughter of Zeus, had covered the
place with mist, that she might tell him everything first and disguise him.
She wished that his wife and friendsmight no know him until he had punished
the wooers of his wife for their outrageous violence." (Homer 152) This is
basically self-explanatory . Athena wanted Odysseus know completely the
situation that he was about to encounter. After all, the goings on at his
house were rather drastic.
These are a few of the most obvious examples of Athena's role in
the Odyssey. To me she is the caretaker of Odysseus and Telemachos. It is
with her help that makes Odysseus seem so godlike. Who knows or could say
what might have happened to Odysseus and his family had Athena not provided
the great asistance that she did. I am almost certain that he would not
have made it home without it.