The Odyssey

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The Odyssey details Odysseus’ arduous return to his homeland. Ten years have passed since the end of the Trojan war and Odysseus, the “most cursed man alive”, has been missing and presumed dead by many. (10.79). Throughout the novel, gods play a significant role in the fate of Odysseus and other characters. The extent of the gods’ role though is not unqualified, contrary to Telemachus’ suggestion that, “Zeus is to blame./He deals to each and every/ laborer on this earth whatever doom he pleases” (1.401-403). While Zeus does have this power, his description of how humans meet their fate is more accurately depicted throughout the novel. As he aptly points out, “from us alone, the say, come all their miseries, yes,/ but they themselves, with their own reckless ways,/ compound their pain beyond their proper share” (1.38-52). While the gods do doom certain mortals, many of these mortals exacerbate their ill fate by making rash decisions and ignoring the gods’ warnings. The gods are also not always disrupting mortals lives; they often aid mortals in need. In fact, mortals who effectively court the favor of the gods often benefit greatly. While the gods’ powers are unquestionable, no one god’s power is insurmountable. Gods can be outsmarted and their wrath escaped. The Odyssey, in congruence with Zeus’ statement, ultimately, portrays human freedom as existent, but limited. While mortals do not unjustly complain about their fates, they fail to acknowledge that they are also responsible for their ill fate, as mortals themselves, possess a sizable degree of control. There is little doubt that Odysseus and his crew are unlucky, but had it not been for their brash decisions they would have reached Ithaca much sooner. After Od... ... middle of paper ... ...st have some level of freedom, even if it is limited. Telemachus is valid in complaining of how Zeus dooms mortals. Zeus, unequivocally, causes many mortals pain and suffering. Zeus, though, aptly points out that mortals magnify their own pain and suffering. Zeus’ ability to acknowledge that gods are the root of mortals’ pain strengthens his credibility. Mortals’ abilities to successfully navigate their circumstances will lead to an easier life. If mortals are able to avoid the ill will of the gods, by securing the favor of the gods and making intelligent decisions, they will not “compound their pain beyond their proper share” (1.52). The final position of The Odyssey supports Zeus’ belief in regard to mortals’ misery, since he acknowledges his own role in their suffering, which is clearly evident, while also recognizing how mortals increase their own pain.

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