Odysseus as Pawn of the Gods in Homer's Odyssey Essays

Odysseus as Pawn of the Gods in Homer's Odyssey Essays

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Odysseus as Pawn of the Gods in The Odyssey


   Throughout literature characters have relied upon entities greater then themselves to furnish them with aid as they meet the many challenges they must face. The Odyssey is a tale of Odysseus’ epic journey and the many obstacles that bar his return home. But Odysseus is not alone in this struggle and receives aid from many gods, especially the clear-eyed goddess Athena. There are times when Odysseus beseeches the gods for aid, but other times he is too foolhardy to receive aid from even the immortal gods. In Homer’s The Odyssey, Odysseus’ journey revolves around the cyclical phases of his dependence, independence and his return to reliance upon the gods’ aid.

While with Calypso Odysseus relies upon the gods to decide whether he shall return home or if he is fated to stay with the nymph goddess. Though Odysseus is powerful amongst mortal men his attempts to free himself from Calypso’s island prove to be in vain. Instead, Odysseus must wait, for "…in the gods’ lap it lies to say if he shall come and wreak revenge in his halls…" (6). Odysseus must bow to the gods’ wishes and it is Athena, rather then Odysseus himself, who convinces mighty Zeus to free Odysseus and set him upon his journey home. Athena pleads Odysseus’ cause to the gods upon Olympus and beseeches her father begging that "…if it now please the blessed gods that wise Odysseus shall return to his own home…" (2) then she will aid him in this journey. Were it not for Athena’s intervention, Odysseus might never have returned to his native land and seen his dear Ithica once more.

Through Telemachus, Odyssues’ son, the reader sees Odysseus’ utter dependence upon the gods’ aid. During Telemachus’ journey, all those th...


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...Despite this high rank, he is still a pawn of the gods’ whims. Although in today’s society monotheism prevails, many of Homer’s lessons, which he demonstrates through his portrayal of Odysseus, apply today. Many people today still believe that a supreme entity determines and governs their fate and that everyone is merely a pawn in the game of life.

Works Cited and Consulted

Bloom, Harold ,  Homer's Odyssey: Edited and with an Introduction, NY, Chelsea House 1988
Crane, Gregory , Calypso: Backgrounds and Conventions of the Odyssey,  Frankfurt, Athenaeum 1988

David W. Tandy and Walter C. Neale (edd. and trans.), Hesiod's Works and Days: A Translation and Commentary for the Social Sciences. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996. Pp. xiv, 149.
Heubeck, Alfred, J.B. Hainsworth, et al. A commentary on Homer's Odyssey. 3 Vols. Oxford PA4167 .H4813 1988

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