Essay on The Role of the Gods in the Odyssey

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Religion was deeply intertwined the culture of the ancient Greeks. In their stories, they prayed to the gods to satisfy their needs and offer assistance in their endeavors, and the gods would occasionally appear to select Greeks to give counsel, gifts, or other forms of aid. Alternatively, if the desires or endeavors of a mortal or mortals displeased one or more of the gods, they would also interfere with the fulfillment of their goals. In Homer’s Odyssey, the gods appear to or interfere with both Telemachus and Odysseus, either to help or hinder them in their journeys. Although the gods are responsible the difficulty Odysseus faces returning from Troy, they are equally responsible for motivating and assisting Odysseus and Telemachus …show more content…
It is not Calypso alone that interferes with Odysseus’ return home. She could only be accused of detaining Odysseus, not causing him to arrive on Ogygia. When Athena asks Zeus why he has forsaken Odysseus on this island, he informs her, “only Poseidon, lord whose chariot runs beneath the earth, is furious—it was Odysseus who deprived the grandest Cyclops, the godlike Polyphemus, of his eye” (1.7). Poseidon continues to rage against Odysseus because “Thoosa—nymph whose father, Phorcys, keeps a close watch on the never-resting deep—gave birth to that huge Cyclops after she had lain in her deep sea-cave with Poseidon” (1.7). Zeus here explains to Athena that Poseidon despises Odysseus because of the role Odysseus played in putting out the eye of the Cyclops Polyphemus, who is Poseidon’s offspring. Therefore, Poseidon maintains a vendetta against Odysseus and “will not let him end his exile” (1.7). Homer indicates that although Odysseus encounters a great deal of misfortune that prevents him from returning to Ithaca, it is misfortune that is by no means a product of chance. Odysseus’ misfortune was to gain the disapproval of a god. The combined interference of Poseidon and Calypso prevented him from continuing his journey home. Just as Odysseus is hindered in his journey home by Poseidon and Calypso attempting to prevent him

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