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Importance of the Gods in Homer's Odyssey
In Ancient Greek Culture, there were countless gods. They ranged from all mighty Zeus, king of the gods, to Eris, Goddess of discord, and Dionysos God of wine and revelry. Some Gods and Goddesses, like Zeus and Athena, favored Odysseus and Telemachius, helping them on their journey. While others, like Poseidon, gave them serious trouble along the way. The causes of some of these feelings towards the protagonist may be clear, but others aren't so clear. But if one looks closely at the personalities and other characteristics of the gods and goddesses, their reasoning becomes more apparent.
The Gods played an important part in everyday Greek society. They controlled everything. Ilithyia was in charge of birth. The God Mors was in charge of death. Along with Mors, were the Fates. Clotho would spin the string of life, Lachesis would measure it, and Atropos would cut it and the person would die.
In The Odyssey, the gods had great influence over the characters. Athena would provide protection for Odyssey and Telemachus, preventing harm from befalling them. She also would provide them with assistance. She helped Odysseus out of many tough situations, including Odysseus' shipwreck. She also often helps Telemachus--as when she sends him off to Pylos and Sparta to earn a name for himself--but she has the most affection for Odysseus. Athena is confident, practical, clever, a master of disguises, and a great warrior, characteristics she finds reflected in Telemachus.
Despite this, there are gods who try to harm Odysseus and Telemachus. Poseidon despises Odysseus for blinding his son, the Cyclops Polyphemus, and constantly hampers his journey home. He sends them violent storms during their sea voyage.
Why the gods act the way they do, only they know. But in some cases, like Poseidon, they had good reason to. Odysseus blinded Poseidon's son, and even though Poseidon doesn't seem like the loving and affectionate type, he loved his son, and he had every right to be upset with Odysseus.
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The Gods work in mysterious ways. They are in charge of everything, and they can be manipulate human behavior, but some humans, like Odysseus, can in turn, manipulate the Gods, causing them to favor them over others.