Fate describes a person’s future; it shows what they must do to arrive at their future, and also what that future is. The characters must set specific events in motion by their choices or actions. Fate is significant in The Odyssey because it can explain why every character does a specific thing. It offers a clearer understanding of the character’s motives. Certain events happen in the story that are unrelated to fate or free will. These events are seen as the gods looking down on the mortals and rewarding them for their actions. When Odysseus stumbled upon a stag on Aeaea, he said “I was on my way back and close to the ship when some god took pity on me, walking there alone, he sent a great antlered stag” (10.172-4). Odysseus was never fated to find the stag, nor did he come by it with a personal decision. His statement about the gods taking pity on him shows us how important the relationship between the gods and the mortals are. The mortals are dependent on the gods and their decisions. The mortals realiz...
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... some day, that I would lose my sight at Odysseus’ hands” (9.508-10). Odysseus was acting out the prophecy even though he didn’t know it existed. When Odysseus divulged his true identity he fulfilled the prophecy as Polyphemus knew it. The Odyssey offered very little wiggle room for the concept of fate. If something was fated to happen, it would. No personal choice could revise fate.
The idea of fate is somewhat complex. The Odyssey evaluates the theme of fate, and gives a clearer picture of what it means. The poem shows how the mortal characters were affected by the gods and prophecies. The idea of personal choice was also presented in the poem. However, all the characters in the poem were influenced by fate, not free will. Today’s ideas on fate might be different, but this look into fate in the past can make understanding this concept easier.
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