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Influence of Gods in the Odyssey
The almighty, powerful, feared beings in Greek mythology are the
gods! They have many powers and the ability to take the life of anyone in
an instant. But many of them also have another side. What many people
don't know is that they are not all horrible creatures. Many times, gods
help and even befriend the mortals. Many of the gods, like Ino who saved
Odysseus, Hermes who aided Odysseus, and Athena who assisted Odysseus, are
a positive interferences in Homer's epic, The Odyssey.
The white sea goddess, Ino, helps Odysseus on his journey to
Phaiacia. He is about to be smashed against the rough rocks of the island
when Ino sees him and "She pitied Odysseus as he was buffeted about in this
miserable way" (Homer 69). This shows that Ino pities the man and wants
to give him a helping hand. Goddesses who want to help mortals, are a
positive influence on them. Ino says, "'Here take this veil and stretch it
under your chest: it is a divine thing, and while you have it there is no
fear that you will drown or come to any harm'" (Homer 69). This is a good
example of how a goddess can help a mortal. By giving Odysseus the veil
she protects him, and for Odysseus, this is a positive interference.
Though some goddesses, like Ino, help mortals reach places, others, such as
Hermes, warn them against danger.
Hermes gives Odysseus advice on how to avoid danger. As if
reaching the land of Circe isn't hard enough, now Odysseus must find a way
to get his men back from her. The person to help, is Hermes. Odysseus
reaches the house "'But just as I was on the point of entering the sacred
dell...who should meet me but Hermes with his golden rod'" (Homer 117).
Hermes interferes in Odysseus' journey by stopping him before he enters the
house of Circe. However, this is a positive interference because he has
come to warn Odysseus of danger. Hermes says to Odysseus, "'All right, I
will help you and keep you safe. Here, take this charm...this will keep
destruction from your head'" (Homer 118). In this case, Hermes protects
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Odysseus. The protection of Odysseus is a positive interference by Hermes.
Odysseus could not have gone through his journey without the help of Hermes
and another protector, Athena.
Athena helps Odysseus all through his long journey. She constantly
shows up by his side to aid him. After Odysseus finds out that many of his
wife's suitors are living in his own house, he vows to punish them. Athena
affirms his decision and says, "'Of course I will stand by you; I will not
forget you when we are about this business'" (Homer 156). And, sure
enough, Athena does not forget him. This shows that by reassuring him and
boosting his confidence, she interferes in Odysseus' life in a positive way.
While Odysseus is fighting his wife's suitors, Athena appears again.
"Athena came near to them in the likeness of Mentor. Odysseus was cheered
by the sight" (Homer 247). Athena enters the fight between Odysseus and
his wife's suitors. However, she fights on his side, making her
interference positive. Athena assists Odysseus throughout his journey.
It is clear that gods and goddesses interfere in the lives of the
mortals positively in Homer's Odyssey, because Ino saves
Odysseus, Hermes aids Odysseus, and Athena assists Odysseus. The story of
Odysseus is not only of a brave man who ventures all over the world, but
also of the mighty Greek gods. Though these gods seem frightening, many of
them, as you saw in the Odyssey, actually help mortals.