Role of the Gods in Homer’s Odyssey

In “The Odyssey”, the gods generally bring about mixed emotions. The humans in the poem are fearful of the gods because of their great power and influence in their lives-if they wanted you to fail, you would. They are like the puppet-masters of the world, they control what happens to each and every person. But, this can also come in handy when you are on the good side of the gods. If you were a favorite of a god, like Odysseus, you had the gods by your side, willing to help you whenever you have problems.

Zeus and Hermes are gods that are more or less neutral when it comes to the humans, but, at the same time, lean to the side of the humans when the subject arises. Zeus is sympathetic to the mortals below him and, since he is the almighty leader of the gods, he makes it so the humans have the edge. He lets the other gods help the humans, such as letting Athena help Odysseus in his journey. Hermes also has a very neutral approach to the humans, but he helps them when he can. He orders Calypso to let Odysseus go, or fear the wrath of Zeus.

His warning here, in addition with his advice to eat the Moly so he wouldn’t be turned into a swine when he came up against Circe. Poseidon, on the other hand, isn’t sympathetic, but uses his power for evil rather than good. After Odysseus blinds his son, the Cyclops, Poseidon becomes vengeful and takes his wrath out on the man who so hurt his son. He makes the sea choppy and churning, making it almost impossible for Odysseus to continue his journey. Even though he has all this power and is capable of killing Odysseus, he is stopped by the other gods; he is pressured to stop because Odysseus is a beloved man among the gods.

Lastly, there is Athena. Not only is she a strong female character in “The Odyssey” she is also a very kind and powerful character in her own right. She uses her power for good, following this amazing man, Odysseus, helping him in his journey. Athena is a close friend and confidante of Odysseus and has a sense of humor that isn’t found in most gods. She also helps steer people in the right direction, such as telling Telemachus to travel to Sparta to learn about his father’s fate and telling Nausicaa to go and wash her clothes so that she would find the stranded Odysseus.

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