Theme of Revenge in Homer's Odyssey

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Homer’s The Odyssey is not just a tale of a man’s struggle on his journey home from the Trojan War, but of his struggle from the consequences of revenge. The Odyssey weaves in different characters’ tales of revenge from the gods and what impact revenge actually had on those characters. Revenge is an important underlying theme in The Odyssey because, in essence, it explains why Odysseus’ journey was so prolonged and treacherous. A few examples of revenge in the poem include Orestes’ revenge on Aegisthus, Zeus’ revenge on Odysseus and his men, and Poseidon’s revenge on Odysseus. These different examples of revenge in The Odyssey show the importance of the gods’ revenge in the epic journey of Odysseus. Orestes’ revenge is the first important example of the gods’ revenge in the poem. In Book 1, Hermes told Aegisthus, “’Don’t murder the man,’ he said, ‘don’t court his wife. Beware, revenge will come from Orestes…” (Homer 260). King Nestor delivers the story of Orestes’ revenge to Odysseus’ son Telemachus, while Telemachus is visiting Nestor to discover answers about his fathers’ whereabouts. In Book 3 of The Odyssey, King Nestor tells this of Agamemnon, “…Aegisthus hatched the kings’ horrendous death” (Homer, 285). King Nestor continues on telling of the revenge Agamemnon’s son Orestes has on Aegisthus, “Orestes took revenge, he killed that cunning, murderous Aegisthus…”(Homer, 285). This example of Orestes’ revenge shows that the gods should be listened to or they will give horrific revenges to those who disobey. Zeus’ revenge on Odysseus and his men on their journey home from Troy is one of the reasons Odysseus is setback in returning home. While on the journey home, Circe warns Odysseus of revenge if they eat the cat... ... middle of paper ... ... onslaught spinning his craft round and round” (Homer 321). This example shows how Odysseus is constantly suffering from the revenge of the god Poseidon. By keeping Odysseus away from home and trapped within the bounds of sea, Poseidon shows his godly revenge. These few instances of revenge: Orestes’ revenge on Aegisthus, Zeus’ revenge on Odysseus and his men, and Poseidon’s revenge on Odysseus in The Odyssey, lay the background for Odysseus’ story of struggle in his journey home from Troy. Revenge proves to be the main reason not only as to why Odysseus cannot return home, but also as a means of proving the importance of the gods’ role in the epic journey. Without these occurrences of the gods getting revenge on Odysseus and other mortals, there would be no passionate tales of the perseverance that Odysseus had in achieving his goal: getting home to Ithaca.

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