Destiny, Fate and Free Will in Homer's Odyssey

analytical Essay
1370 words
1370 words

Fate and Free Will in Homer's Odyssey

When we look at Greek Mythology we often run into the gods of that era. Sometimes they are merely backdrops to the human element of the story but in stories such as The Odyssey the gods play a prominent if not vital role to the central themes of the story.

Fate has a place in the Greek world but its place is not the same as it is in other scenarios or worlds. It is important to understand the word before we discuss it. Fate as far as Greek mythology goes is not just fate. By most standards fate means that things occur for an unknown reason that no one has any control over. However, in the world of Greek Mythology fate does not just happen. The gods engineer fate and they interfere to make things happen that might not otherwise have happened. Since the players do not always know of the gods' involvement, things may actually appear to be fate but in reality be engineered happenings.

Free will on the other hand is not engineered. It speaks to the concept of having full authority over one's aspirations and ultimate direction. The key there is "ultimate." The gods can make up the plan and choose the path, but the people had to walk it. Therefore, fate and free will are not mutually exclusive and they both go on throughout The Odyssey.

In The Odyssey life is one's own responsibility; instead of leaving all things up to fate, the characters had a significant influence upon his or her own existence.

In The Odyssey the gods are responsible for controlling many aspects of where the story goes, but the people still have to choose to go. The gods in The Odyssey are who held Odysseus captive for over eight years. They were responsible for his capture in the first place and then refused to let him go for almost a decade. When they finally decided he should be allowed to find his way home they made it known to his captor Kalypso. However Odysseus still had to choose to leave. Kalypso tried to keep him by offering immortality. "You would stay here, and guard this house, and be immortal" (Homer 267). Odysseus could have stayed but he chose to go. Some say that the gods knew Odysseus would not stay and that is why they decided to let him go.

In this essay, the author

  • Analyzes how the gods in the odyssey control many aspects of the story, but the people still have to choose to go.
  • Analyzes how free will and fate are represented in the odyssey. the suitors on ithaka behaved poorly throughout the story, but the gods chose to sit back and allow the people to make their choices.
  • Explains that in greek mythology, the gods play a prominent if not vital role to the central themes of the odyssey. fate and free will are not mutually exclusive.
  • Analyzes how zeus' statement shows that the people are responsible for themselves and have the ability to make their own choices.
  • Analyzes how the odyssey represents free will in that it gave choices to the gods but more importantly the people made their own choices.
  • Analyzes homer's "the odyssey" in the constant reader, the norton anthology of world masterpieces: the western tradition.
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