The Role Of The Gods In The Odyssey

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 10th grade April 2001

download word file, 6 pages 5.0

Downloaded 30 times

In determining the role of the Gods in The Odyssey, by Homer, one must ponder where Odysseus would be if the Greek Gods did not exist. If it weren't for Athena, daughter of Zeus, would Odysseus still be able to overcome the challenges he faced from Poseidon (the God of the Sea), Helios (the sun god), Calypso (the goddess-nymph), and Circe (the goddess and enchantress) during his journey home? Would he still experience the same life long lessons in his prolonged journey home which enabled him to grow as character? Would the Odyssey be an odyssey, a long voyage marked by many changes of fortune, if not for the gods who cursed him or those that assisted him? The depiction of the role of the gods played in The Odyssey is presented as both good and evil. The gods play either a savior-like role, as in Jesus Christ, or a tormentor role, as in Satan.

For instance, gods such as Athena assist in Odysseus' journey home, while gods like Poseidon hinder his progress. Throughout the Odyssey it is evident that the gods are essential, for they not only serve as plot enhancers, but they also help Odysseus grow as a character and return him to Ithaca as a better and more experienced man than he was when he first left.

One god that is essential to the plot and also to the development of Odysseus' character is Athena. Throughout the story Athena serves as the crutch that Odysseus leans on in the times of need. Whenever Odysseus faces trouble, Athena is there to help him out, which she points out when she reminds him that she is, "Pallas Athena, daughter of Zeus- who always stands by you, shields you in every exploit" (13:341-342). From the beginning of The...