Essay

Discuss the Relationships That the Mortals Have to the Gods in the Odyssey, Giving Examples. What Characteristics Do the Gods Appear to like in the Mortals?

In this essay I want to explain some of the relationships between the Gods and mortals in the Odyssey. The Odyssey an epic written by Homer. It tells about Odysseus Laertiades who journeyed to to the Trojan War and after it ended he hasn't returned home in 10 years. On his journey home Odysseus angers Poseidon by blinding his son, the Cyclops Polyphemos. Fortunately for Odysseus Athena, the goddess of wisdom, is willing to help him on his way home. While he was away suitors entered his home to marry Penelopeia, his wife, because they thought he perished in the war. Despite what everyone thought, Penelopeia believed Odysseus was still alive and stayed loyal to him and using clever ‘tactics’ she prolonged her new wedding. While in his house the suitors did not respect Penelopeia nor Odysseus’ son, Telemachos.

The Ancient Greeks were very religious, but unlike Christians who believed in one almighty God, The Greeks believed in a pantheon of Gods where the most important God is Zeus, the God of the sky. The people believed that the Gods weren't perfect, but were like humans possessing some bad characteristics as well, like jealousy, anger, selfishness and arrogance. The immortals in Ancient Greece would often intervene with human lives and could affect them for the better or worse. The Greeks would make sacrifices and say prayers to the Gods every day. They highly respected the them, which can be seen in the Odyssey, but in some cases the Gods respected mortals.

’’How could I forget that fine fellow Odysseus after all! He's almost one of us.’’p.5

Sometimes the respect that the ancient Greeks had for the gods can be mutual.

One relationship where the respect is mutual is between Odysseus and Athena. They both have great respect for each other. Athena helps Odysseus on his journey because she respects him and because she likes him. One example where Athena helps Odysseus when she asked Zeus to dispatch Hermes to tell Calypso that Odysseus is free and can go home.

’’If all the gods now agree that Odysseus shall return to his own home, then let us dispatch our messenger Hermes to the island of Ogygia,’’ p.5

Although Zeus respects Odysseus only thanks to Athena did Zeus let Odysseus escape.

Another time when Athena helps Odysseus is when Poseidon created a storm to drown Odysseus, Athena calmed it to let Odysseus get to land.

‘‘She tied up the courses of all the other winds, and commanded them to rest and be quiet.’’p.71

The gods can help the mortals sometimes.

On the contract some gods may hate mortals which is the relationship between Poseidon and Odysseus for most of the book. Poseidon hated Odysseus, because Odysseus blinded his son Polyphemos in order for him to escape from the blood thirsty Cyclops's cave. Odysseus created a genius plan to escape and he did, but he decided to shout out his name to the Cyclops, because he was selfish and proud of his doings. Then it turned out that Polyphemos was Poseidon's son, so after Polyphemos cursed Odysseus, the God of the sea tried to stop Odysseus from reaching his home in any way he could.

‘‘If I am truly thy son, and thou art indeed my father grant that Odysseus the conqueror of Troy — the son of Laertiades — whose address is in Ithaca, may never reach his home!’’p.118

Another example of a God hating mortals is when Odysseus's men are stuck, because Zeus made a storm to not let them go, on Helios, the God of the sun's island and after being stuck for a few days their supplies run out, so they had to resort to eating whatever they can catch. Later the men were tired of eating birds and fish, so one day they decided to consume the cattle that was on the island in spite of Teiresias’s and Circe's warning. When Helios Hyperion found out he was furious and a few days later they all lost their lives. All except Odysseus.

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