Personal Responsibility and the Gods’ Role in the Odyssey Essay

1026 Words Aug 7th, 2010 5 Pages
The gods play an important part in Odysseus’ journey home, bringing him closer and farther from his homeland. They constantly intervene in the lives of the many characters in The Odyssey. Though Odysseus is a hero, the gods control his life. It is as if he were the main character in a video game and the gods are fighting over who controls his life. Personal responsibility is overshadowed by the gods’ eagerness to grab the controller. Homer disregards personal responsibility by showing how the gods take care of everything for Odysseus. It was ultimately Athena who begged Zeus to let Odysseus go home by saying

Father Zeus…..never let any sceptered king be kind and gentle now, not he ruled remembers Odysseus
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Zeus, although Odysseus never meets him face to face, plays an active, yet neutral part in Odysseus’ journey back to Ithaca. He sends signs from the heavens that are used to predict Odysseus’ return

Farseeing Zeus sent down a sign. He launched two eagles soaring high from a mountain ridge….wild onslaught of wings and banking down at the crowd’s heads-a glaring, fatal sign…..‘Clearly Odysseus won’t be far from loved ones any longer….’ (Homer page 98)
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Zeus forces Calypso to free Odysseus. Hermes tells Calypso that “…..Zeus commands you send him off with all good speed: it is not his fate to die here, far from his own people” (Homer page 156), and “mounted a thunderhead above our hollow ship”(Homer page 283) to punish Odysseus and his crew for slaughtering the cattle of the son. Zeus helps Athena bring Odysseus home, but he also fulfills his obligations to the other gods by punishing him when needed. He could not interfere with Odysseus’ life, but he chooses to become involved and do what is necessary to get Odysseus home (when he feels inclined to). It becomes clear that Zeus and Athena do not think Odysseus could get home by himself without their help when they call a meeting with the other gods to address the issue of Odysseus’ return without Poseidon being present . He did not “….forget Odysseus? Great Odysseus….

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