Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 10th grade October 2001

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Mortals blame the gods when their miseries occur, but they are to blame to very little extent. For it is the mortals who, with their own negligence, make things far worse than they should be. In Homer's book "The Odyssey" there are many examples of how the mortals make things worse for themselves. Odysseus is the hero of the poem; he is the most versatile and well-rounded character in Greek Literature. He and his men have flaws though, but they are overshadowed by Odysseus virtues. The most prominent of Odysseus' characteristics is his cleverness. He is a proud man though, he and his crew also are indulged with curiosity, traits that brought them trouble more than once and would have had disastrous consequences had it not been for Odysseus' cleverness.

In book nine, Odysseus and his men came to the land of the Cyclopes. These are rustic, one-eyed barbarians who neither cultivate crops nor have any type of laws.

Fortunately, Odysseus and his men landed at night during heavy fog, so that they were undetected by these fierce people. The first day there, they spent in feasting on goats and wine. On the next day, Odysseus succumbed to his curiosity and went exploring with twelve if his comrades in order to see sort of men inhabited this land (IX, 215). They made their way to a cave, which was surrounded by pens of sheep, and goats. Since the owner was away, they went inside the cave. The crew wanted to leave after they had stolen some of the animals, Odysseus however, insisted that they stay and met the owner (line 260). When they met the Cyclops, Polyphemus, all he did was grab two members of the crew and eat them. Odysseus dared not kill him because they would be stuck in the cave unable to move the boulder blocking the entrance. The next day Odysseus gave Polyphemus some strong wine, while the Cyclops was getting drunk off the wine he told him his name was "No Man". When the Cyclops fell down drunk, Odysseus and his men grabbed a sharpened stick and rammed it in the Cyclops eye (Line 433). After that Odysseus and his men escaped the cave and went onto their ship. It did not satisfy Odysseus however to escape from the Cyclops. He let his pride get in the way and started taunting the Cyclops and told him, when they ask him who gauged his eye out to tell everyone it was Odysseus who makes his home in Ithaca (Line 559). The dissatisfaction of Odysseus, made things far worse for him and his crew. The Cyclops was Poseidon's son, and he prayed that Odysseus never return home or to return a broken man in a world of pain. If Odysseus would have just kept sailing and not let his pride get in the way, he would have made it home soon, but that was not the case.

It was the curiosity of Odysseus' crew that also prolonged their journey back to Ithaca. Aeolus gives Odysseus a sack, " the skin of a full-grown ox binding inside the winds that howl from every quarter"¦ he set the west wind free to blow us on our way home. But his plan was bound to fail, yes our own reckless folly swept us on to ruin (X, 20-31)." Odysseus, during the journey home didn't allow the crew to touch the sack of wind. The crew became curious, they were sure that Odysseus was hauling some sort of treasure. They loosed the sack and all the winds burst out and a sudden squall struck and brought them back to sea. They again were brought to Aeolus' island only to be cast away by him. They next landed on the island of the Laestrygonian, where again thanks to curiosity led them to trouble. He sent three of his men to search the land and they encountered that the people there were cannibals luckily one of the men got away to alert Odysseus and the rest of the crew on the ship. They almost didn't make it out of their alive (X, 130-140) It was Odysseus' curiosity in the island of Aeaea, the home of the goddess Circe that as well prolonged their journey back to Ithaca. His crew in fear of what had happened to some of them in the land of the Laestrygonians (cannibals) pleaded to Odysseus to leave at once for home. But Odysseus would not hear any of that; it was not his nature to leave a land without first knowing just what he was leaving. He splits his men into two parties and one group discovered Circe's house. She invites that group in and turns some of them into pigs (Lines 240-268). Hermes appears to Odysseus, who is heading to save his men from Circe, and gives him a plant that will prevent Odysseus from getting drunk. Odysseus surprises Circe when he doesn't get drunk, and she becomes under his power and she turns his crew back (Lines 335-340). They were treated so well by Circe that they prolong their trip back home to stay with her for a year.

Some may argue that yes, "curiosity does kill the cat", but isn't our future already pre-written? So no matter what we do, we are still doing what the gods intended us to do? This may be so to a certain extent with the fact that paths in our future may be already pre-written for us, but we have freewill to decide which path we would like to proceed.

With this in mind, it is not the gods who make things worse for us because we have freewill to choose what we want to do. It just may be in our nature when something goes wrong to blame others for our costly mistakes, when we should be blaming no other than ourselves