War & Peace in the ‘Odyssey’

The importance and influence of Homer’s works to Greek culture and history simply cannot be overstated.  He has been labeled the “teacher of Greece” and he was widely lauded in his own day, as he continues to be in our day and age.  Homer’s ‘Odyssey’ is a monument of world literature, and it is a vitally important example of Greek mythological writing.  It is also fascinating as a kind of political document, a manifesto about war and peace, imperialism, violence, hatred, and so on. Although the Trojan War was an imaginary  conflict, its depiction by Homer (in both the ‘Odyssey’ and ‘Iliad’) is vivid and harrowing, and this may be because, depending on when Homer was really writing, the horrors of war might have been all-too-real in a land where civil strife and conflict amongst city-states were common.  With this possibility in mind, I want you to think about the ‘Odyssey’ not strictly as a mythological text but as a kind of political document, a creative act that negotiates the day’s crises of power and authority.  Hence, I would like for you to explore something related to war and peace as depicted by Homer and articulated through his many character dialogues and speeches.  Specifically, I want you to address a particular war-oriented theme – such as violence, hatred, justice, mercy, authority, violence, surrender, and negotiation – and examine that theme as presented in a particular passage from the ‘Odyssey.’  Pick a quotation or two from the text and then discuss it in terms of its political content.  In your discussion you should identify the central issue of your chosen lines, and detail the challenges and logic of characters concerning the subject; then, you must offer some thoughts on what YOU think about the topic within the context of the story (if not the culture of Greece more generally).  To borrow from one translation of the opening lines of the text:  “Tell me, O Muse, of that ingenious hero who travelled far and wide after he had sacked the famous town of Troy.”  Tell ME, fair students, about the trials and tribulations of this hero, and tell US what you think the text has to say about war and peace in the context of Greek myth (and/or Greek society).  I shall be curious to see where the “muse” takes you in this response!

38 thoughts on “War & Peace in the ‘Odyssey’

  1. The quote that I decided to use is, “and ashen terror gripped the men. But now, fearing death, all eyes fixed on Charybdis- now Scylla snatched six men from our hollow ship, the toughest, strongest hands I had, and glancing backward over the decks, searching for my crew I could see their hands and feet already hoisted, flailing, high, higher, over my head, look- wailing down at me, comrades riven in agony, shrieking out my name for one last time!” (lines 262- 270 pages 278- 279). Due to the fact that this quote shows violence, that’s the theme I’m going with. The main challenge here with Odysseus is that his crewmates are getting eaten. It seems pretty straightforward, but he has no idea how to react. Eventually, he figures out that he must kill Scylla in order to avoid being eaten himself. In my opinion, violence can sometimes be the answer. I realize how terrible this must sound, but it’s true. Unless someone physically harms you, then violence is not ok. On the aspect of how this passage relates to the gods, I can make some associations. For example, when Scylla ate the crewmates of Odysseus, it’s similar to when gods get power- hungry. In this effect, they randomly decide to use their power to disadvantage other beings from being able to gain status. For the war and peace aspect, that made it completely chaotic and not peaceful. In today’s day and time that would not be acceptable but back then since it was ancient Greece, it was perfectly normal.

  2. Even though Homer’s work the “Odyssey” was not written in a non fictional it is still considered to be a historical document. What Homer actually wrote about were some key events that impacted history. Although the story included god, goddess, and monsters we view the story as sort of a history book. Homer based the “Odyssey” off of several ideas that influenced culture at this time. The quote that chose was, “All men need gods”. This quote is a representation of authority, in my personal opinion. Authority was a key element of culture at this time whether authority was sewn as a leader, the government, or the gods and goddess. I believe that the quote relates to authority of the gods. The gods were responsible for the storm that washed all the ships to the island. Greek culture was based off authority. The Greeks feared the gods because of the power they wielded. They were probably so scared they obeyed the gods out of fearless.

    • “All men need gods”, is the perfect quote to showcase how man constantly needs a leader whether it’s mythological or in reality. Seeing it in from an historical view point shows how Homer used culture to influence his writing. Although Greece came up with the method of democracy in politics, they were also known for ruling harshly in a dictator/tyrant way. Greeks believed in controlling people into doing what they wanted and that if they didn’t follow the rules, a punishment would be given. Instilling fear and making people feel inferior will make them look to a god for help or look up to the leader in reverence. Gods executed this technique perfectly, using their powers to teach lessons and exert their authority. By sending the storm to Odysseus’s men they not only knew not o disrespect the gods but what can happen in the future if anyone attempted to.

  3. I chose “his hands reached out, seized two of them and smashed them to the ground like pupppies. Their brains splattered out and oozed into the dirt. He tore them limb from limb.” This quote really represents violence at its worse. I feel violence had a huge part in Greek politics and culture, simply because they used violence as a form of entertainment in theaters and to instill fear into the people to keep them in line. I also think this really illustrates how “god-like” odysseus really was he was help less as he watched on as his men were murdered for food, but then formulated a plan using brains instead of just killing the creature by force. This made them throw third hands up to the gods asking why and crying out for help. A lot of times in those days they blamed the gods for everything instead of looking and seeing how they really got themselves in to that predicament and taking ownership of the mistake they made.

  4. One of my favorite quotes from the Odyssey is from the beginning of Book 22, where Odysseus finally reveals himself to the suitors and says, “Look – your crucial test is finished, now, at last! But another target’s left that no one’s hit before – we’ll see if I can hit it – Apollo give me glory!” Whereupon afterward, Odysseus fires an arrow into Antinous’ neck. I love this part of the Odyssey because it’s a great example of revenge, a concept that is constantly shown in classical Greek literature. It shows how violence is definitely a major topic in this Epic, but more focusing on violence to resolve a wrongdoing. Odysseus’ home was invaded and full of lazy, loitering suitors clamoring for his wife, and Odysseus’ killing of them all is about his return to normal life before the Trojan War.

  5. Focusing on mercy and authority we can see the Gods showing pity for Odysseus (all but Poseidon) and are using the authority of many to out weigh the power of one. We can see that in lines 81-86 on page 180. “Ever since, not killing him, but keeping him away from his native land. But come now, let’s all put our heads together and find a way to bring Odysseus home. Poseidon will have to put aside his anger. He can’t hold out alone against the will of all the immortals.” Poseidon is angered at the blinding of his son but all the other gods still wish to show mercy to the Cyclopes’ attacker. Poseidon set in his rage tries to keep Odysseus trapped at sea and away from his home land, Ithaca. Athena is especially passionate about bringing Odysseus home and puts hope in the heart of his son. The gods use their resources to bring Odysseus home. After twenty long years Odysseus finally returns to his wife to Penelope, this demonstrates the mercy of many gods, the anger of one, and the authority they can have over one another.

  6. “But Poseidon is cold and stiff with anger,
    because Odysseus blinded his son, the Cyclops
    Polyphemus, the strongest of all the Cyclops……..
    The Earthshaker has been after Odysseus
    Ever since, not killing him, but keeping him away
    From his native land…”
    I choose the theme of vengeance. Since Poseidon cannot give up his anger on Odysseus, he chooses to start a petty little fight and keep Odysseus away from his wife and son. It goes to show that Gods can be as full of hatred and anger like humans. All of the other Gods show mercy on Odysseus and they use their resources to get him home. Poseidon was blinded by his anger and hate. It shows how people do not always forgive and forget during those times. Forgiveness was not always an option.

    • I really like the example you used to illustrate the pettiness and vengeance, like you said, that the gods can possess. Gods, like humans, disagree and hold grudges, and its an even more threatening situation because, well, they’re immortal. They can use pretty much whatever means possible to get back at their victim or foe. Poseidon, when seeing Odysseus attempting to travel back to his family, says, “the gods must have changed their minds…but I’ll bet I can still blow some trouble his way.” This, to me, not only reeks of petty vengeance, but plain immaturity for a character who is supposed to be god of all the sea.

  7. Myth 2
    The Quote I decided to use was ” But Poseidon is stiff and cold with anger Because Odysseus blinded his son, the Cyclops Polyphemus, the strongest of all the Cyclopes, nearly a god the nymph Thoosa bore him, daughter of phorcys, lord of the barren brine, after mating with Poseidon in a scalloped sea-cave, the Earthshaker has been after Odysseus ever since, not killing him, but keeping him away from his native land” lines 73-82. I choose this quote because I thought it best exemplifies hatred at its finest. Poseidon has so much hatred for Odysseus after what he does to his son the Cyclopes that he sets out to make sure that Odysseus does not make it home. I think that this shows how much a role hatred played in Greek society since Greece was not a kingdom but rather a bunch of individual city states. which fought amongst one another, hatred amongst the various city states must not have been uncommon and played roles in the various wars that happened within Greece.

  8. The quote I have chosen is by Pallas Athena, and it says “Damn them! You really do need Odysseus back. Just let him lay his hands on these mangy dogs! If only he would come through that door now with a helmet and shield and a pair of spears.”(Lines 271-275). This quote shows that violence was used as a solution back then to many problems. In this segment the problem is that there are unwanted suitors in Athena’s house and she can do nothing about it. So she was wishing for Odysseus to come back soon that he could take care of them and get them out her house. Personally, I like how back then they thought violence as an answer to some problems. It reflects today with our culture with how we also think violence is an answer to most of our problems.

  9. The theme I have chosen to talk about is hatred. This is seen in the cave of the cyclops when Odysseus tries to explain to the cyclops what had happened. Instead the cyclops, Polyphemus, grabs two of Odysseus’ men and eats them. This brings me to the quote ” I crept up close and was thinking about drawing my sharp sword and driving it home into his chest where the lungs hid the liver.” Obviously this is a sign of hatred from Odysseus. He and his men asked nothing but a favor of the cyclops, but are brutally murdered. Odysseus and the rest of his men are taking captive and are just waiting to be eaten. The quote shows a hatred for towards the cyclops for killing his men and taking them captive. Odysseus wants to kill the cyclops but can’t because there is a boulder blocking him from doing so. He and his men eventually escape by driving a steak through the cyclops’s eye, blinding him. This shows a form of hatred towards someone that shows injustice. There is a hatred towards murderers as seen through Odysseus’s words and actions.

  10. The quotation I chose is “But I brought them back, back to the hollow ships, and streaming tears—I forced them, hauled them under the rowing benches, lashed them fast and shouted out commands to my other, steady comrades: ‘Quick, no time to lose, embark in the racing ships!’— so none could eat the lotus, forget the voyage home” which is a rather long quotation, but it is still the best to use for an explanation of authority in war. The end of the Trojan War, with its horrible massacres and looting, angered the gods and this folly stems from the improper use of authority at the time. Odysseus is a talented leader, one who perfectly wields his authority, and this part of the text where his men are possessed by the wonders of the lotus is a prime example of what a leader should do. The men Odysseus has to lead are very hard to control and this part of the text puts Odysseus in a similar light of leadership that Hesiod puts Zeus in where Odysseus makes perfect decisions although his men never want to listen to him. While Hesiod’s Zeus is all to eager to use force, Odysseus presents a medium that leaders should follow in that he is not afraid to use force,but is not trigger-happy either. In short, Odysseus is a commentary on good leadership which during a turbulent time, like that Homer may have experienced, is often in short supply.

  11. I have chosen a quote from Homer’s The Odyssey that speaks directly to the themes of violence, hatred, and authority.
    “The blade itself incites to deeds of violence.”
    This quotes states that the “blade” or sword, only leads to acts of violence; and with the case of Odysseus, it does. There were many times where Odysseus had to defend himself and fight of the different beasts/creatures. So the blade, led to a sufficient amount of killing. The theme of hatred comes into play with the blade where that, if one person truly hates another, then they most likely will try to stop them. And in the times of Odysseus, if there was hatred, there was harm. And the way to harm someone was with a sword and brutal force. Authority is related to the blade in the way that, usually people of high importance carried a sword. So if you had one, you most likely had a lot of power and authority.
    In my opinion, this quote is in fact very true. When desperate times arise, desperate measures must be taken. And the blade was definitely a tool to solve many problems/situations, using violence.

  12. In book nine there is an important quote that comments on war in Ancient Greece. As the story goes Odysseus and his crew invade Ismaros, “The wind that carried west from Ilion
brought me to Ismaros, on the far shore, 
a strongpoint on the coast of the Kikones. 
I stormed that place and killed the men who fought. 
Plunder we took, and we enslaved the women, 
to make division, equal shares to all.” This quote is important because it shows the reason why many of the ancient wars occurred in Greece: greed. Humans as a species are inherently greedy and it is in our nature to want to have a surplus of resources that we deem valuable. The Greeks fought over gold, jewels, land, food, and even women. Treaties that had existed between cities for decades were destroyed in the quest for power. In the end peace was something that only existed when each city was as prosperous as the next. As long as the king was satisfied with his wealth there was no need for greed and jealousy to creep in. with all that being said the greed trait that is human nature is what propelled most of the violence in ancient Greece, so much that peace seemed to have little importance.

  13. I think the Odyssey poses an important lesson when it comes to the debate between war and peace. Specifically, when Pallas Athena is invited inside by Telemachus, I found it important that Homer took special time to describe where Athena’s spear was placed. Her spear was placed “in a polished rack beside a great column where the spears of Odysseus stood in a row” (lines 137-138). I’ve highlighted this part of the text because Athena’s conversation with Zeus ended on a sarcastic note, where Zeus commented on him being “godlike.” Yet, even though Telemachus doesn’t know Athena is a goddess, he still places her spear with his father’s, who was thought to of as god like. Odysseus was in a powerful position, and I think this speaks highly of Athena’s character right from the start. It’s not a violent part of the text, yet the fact that she gives up her spear without a fight says a lot, especially considering Athena is the goddess of war. She wanted to “put some spirit in [Odysseus’] son” (line 96). At this time, family and peace was more important to her.

  14. The quote I chose to discuss is “Mortals! They are always blaming the gods for their troubles, when their own witlessness causes them more then they were destined for!” This quote has a lot of political content for both past and present. It is basically discussing how people blame those who are in higher power for all of their issues, whether they are to blame or not. Though the state of ones society is most definitely a two way street, people choose to blame everyone who has some kind of higher power for all of their problems, instead of realizing that they also have to share part of the blame. It’s a cycle that has been going on for centuries. Everyone wants to see a change but they still follow the same tyrannical king. Same king. Just a new name and face.

  15. The quote I chose was in book V. “Kings might as well no longer be gentle and kind.” This quote is directly referring to the perception of people who are ruled by a tyrant. This can politics in none democratic places, where their is a set and stone ruler who is declared the almighty. How it relates to the rest of the novel is that of Zeus and Odysseus. Odysseus does not want help from the gods even though he is half god half human. Also that Zeus is the ruler over all of the gods. The hero faces many trials which he does without the “help” of the gods. He constantly told himself that he was not one of them. The novel believes that there can be no peace without war. A bigger depiction is that of how humans and gods are a lot alike when it comes to both of these topics. Gods want peace, but only if they are the top of the food chain. War is the same for both due to the fact that both groups gods or humans both seek revenge of fallen family/friends.

  16. The quote I chose comes from Book 9 during the scene with Polyphemos. It is right after he is struck, when the other cyclops’ come in to check on him. He says, “Nobody’s tricked me, Nobody’s ruined me.” This quote can be related to a theme of deceit often seen when the topic of war is brought up. In politics, back then and even now, some form of trickery is being used. A good example of this is the story of the Trojan Horse where they were under the impression that the horse was a gift and not an ambush. Personally, I think that the concept of him telling the cyclops that his name was Nobody was smart. He led his men out of danger by using that deceit and that is all the actually matters in the long run.

  17. The quote that I found to be the most interesting was as follows: “But Poseidon is stiff and cold with anger Because Odysseus blinded his son, the Cyclops Polyphemus, the strongest of all the Cyclopes, nearly a god the nymph Thoosa bore him, daughter of phorcys, lord of the barren brine, after mating with Poseidon in a scalloped sea-cave, the Earthshaker has been after Odysseus ever since, not killing him, but keeping him away from his native land” lines 73-82. A culture’s pantheon always demonstrates that culture’s ideology and with this quote it is shown that if a Greek is slighted, then they revel in their revenge. Poseidon can easily kill Odysseus but instead he chooses to drag out Odysseus’ voyage because Poseidon wants him to suffer. The Greeks have shown in their own history with, for example, the conflict between the Greeks and the Persians, and even the conflicts between city-states show how vicious the Greeks.

  18. The quote which I decided to use is “by nights he would lie beside her, of necessity, in the hollow caerns, against his will, by one who was willing, but all the days he would sit upon the rocks, at the seaside, breaking his heart in tears and lamentation and sorrow as weeping tears he looked out over the barren water” in book 5, lines 154-158. This quote means, Odysseus has everything he could possibly want with Kalypso: eternal youth, luxury, prosperity, and sex. However he is still not content. He still wants to return home to his wife and kid.
    The key element that Odysseus is going through is mercy. Kalypso may have gave Odysseus everything anyone wished they could’ve had, but that is not enough. Kalypso feels mercy for Odysseus because he realizes how much his family means to him and how much he misses them. This text also relates to war because it demonstrates how a war can break up a family. It may take 10 years to get back together, but everyday Odysseus is content but not without his family.

  19. I find the theme of foolish warlike actions immediately seeing justice to be an interesting one for it’s persistence and potency. Most of the story concerns itself with Odysseus and his men repeatedly taking risks and suffering from it. Two examples I thought worth note both present themselves in Book 9. After attacking a village and looting it, Odysseus suggests sailing off, but his men disregard him and pay in lives. “That was my order, but the fools wouldn’t listen. They drank a lot of wine and slaughtered a lot of sheep and cattle on the shore” (ln 47-49). This time, Odysseus is the responsible party and the rest of his men are the ignorant risky ones. Shortly later, after they’ve been out at sea again they reach the land of cyclopes. Odysseus wants to meet with one of the Cyclopes and find out if they are human-like and Zeus-fearing. “My men thought we should make off with some cheese and then come back for the lambs and kids, load them aboard, and sail away on the sea” (ln 215-217). His men attempt to sway him but Odysseus insists that they make themselves at home in it’s cave, and they wind up losing six men before escaping. Everywhere Odysseus goes he seems to invoke somebody’s (usually Poseidon’s) anger through some trespass or some attack and suffers for it.

  20. The theme I’m going to discuss is deception, particularly in book IX concerning the cyclopes. “My ship? Poseidon Lord, who sets the earth a-tremble, broke it up on the rocks at your lands end. A wind from seaward served him, drove us there. We are survivors, these good men and I” (lines 307-310). The cyclopes, Polyphemos, doesn’t buy Odysseus’s lie, just as he didn’t believe that Odysseus and his crew were there on the island just because their ship had landed there. Odysseus was hoping to gain some sympathy from the cyclopes after telling him that their ship was wrecked. Lying to the cyclopes was necessary as a war/escape tactic. Realizing that he and his men would be forever stuck in the monster’s cave if they simply killed him, Odysseus devises a plan to escape. “My name is Nohbdy: mother, father, and friends, everyone calls me Nohbdy” (lines 397-398). He convinces the cyclopes that his name is nobody so that when the monster calls on his neighbors for help (after the rest of his plan falls through) it will seem as if no one has actually harmed him. After Odysseus goes on to trick the giant again by getting him to drink very strong wine, Odysseus and four other men (hand picked) guided the hot rod into Polyphemos’s eye. “Nohbdy, Nohbdy’s tricked me, Nohbdy’s ruined me! (line 444). The men are eventually able to escape on the underbellies of the cyclopes’ sheep, which they end up stealing as their own. I think that deceit is a common theme throughout the story of Odysseus and his men. For the most part he is a noble hero on a mission to get back home to Ithica, but there are times when he feels lying is the best option. Most of the time lying only angers the gods, viewing it as him “out-witting” them, which only creates more road blocks.

  21. “My men lifted up the olivewood stake
    And drove the sharp point right into his eye,
    While I, putting my weight behind it, spun it around…” (Book 9, Lines 380-382)
    There are many instances of violence throughout The Odyssey, however, the example contained in lines 380-382 is one of the more prominent cases. In those lines, Odysseus and his men are trapped in a cave by a cyclops named Polyphemus, who is also the son of Poseidon. In order to get out of this trap, Odysseus gets Polyphemus drunk to the point where he passes out, then all of the men drive a spear through the cyclopes’ eye. Through Odysseus’s actions, his way of thinking is revealed which turns out to be very logical as he acts in the most appropriate way with not only his safety in mind, but his men’s as well. This also shows that when something violent happens, it is because there is no other way around the problem at hand.

  22. “…I loved him, I took care of him, I even told him I’d make him immortal and ageless all of his days. But you said it, Hermes; Zeus has the aegis and none of us gods can oppose his will. So all right, he can go, if its an order from above, off on the sterile sea…” This quote said by Calypso in book 5 stuck out to me because it brought up a point that was brought up in class which was that nobody can defy the gods, let alone Zeus’ authority, without consequence. Calypso knew this and even though she was in love with Odysseus, she agreed to allow him to leave and help him anyway she could to ensure he got home. Calypso tried to persuade Odysseus to stay but she knew she couldn’t go against Zeus and understood that her new love wanted to return to Ithaca. This is an example of someone doing the right thing, they set aside prejudices and other feelings because they want to do what’s best for the ones they care about.

  23. ” Father Zeus- you other happy gods who never die- never let any sceptered king be kind and gentle now, not with all his heart, or set his mind on justice- no, let him be cruel and always practice outrage… And now his dear son…they plot to kill the boy on his way back home. Yes, he has sailed off for news of his father, to holy Pylos first , then out to the sunny hills of Lacedaemon.” I chose this quote because it ties in with the war-orientated theme negotiation. Here Athena is trying to negotiate with Zeus. She’s trying to convince the other gods to help Odysseus get off the island where he is being held captive. The quote shows that in Greek myth they can make choices and those usually pertain to war and peace along with being civilized and barbaric. For in the council Athena is trying to show that Odysseus is worth saving even if it means showing force because he is a symbol of determination and god like characteristics and if he is left to rot then they will fall to chaos for Calypso will win and the men that are after Odysseus’ throne will gain what they want.

  24. When I was reading Book 1 I noticed how emphasis was put out on Odyesseus’s son meeting the disguised Athena. When he noticed she had arrived he quickly approached and welcomed her by saying “Greeting,stranger .You are welcome here. After you have had dinner you can tell us what you need.” I think this quote reflects how the Greeks viewed the importance of Hospitality. Following the quote and in direct comparison to the arrogant suitors it detailed how the son Telemachus then carefully and respectfully treated his guests’ travel gear as well as sitting her in a place away from rowdy suitors. The importance that lies in this first interaction between this boy and a complete stranger is that it is the first showing of true character of Telemachus. He is someone who is young and self-doubting enough to not be able to stand up to the suitors but is naturally kind-hearted enough to respect strangers and is such a naive yet good character. Something that most Greek people would find important to do themselves because they believe that the gods could and would disguise themselves so treating everyone well would be in their best interest. Instead though the only ulterior motives Telemachus has are purely centered towards asking the stranger about his missing father.

  25. I believe justice to be an important theme in the Odyssey. It happens to appear in several stories, and is based off of a cause and effect system. Usually something happens that throws off the balance in the world of the Gods, and the offender has to be punished in order to maintain that certain celestial balance. Some lines that envoke justice come from Telemachus’ story: “Antinoos, I cannot thrust the mother who bore me, who raised me, out of the house against her will. My father, alive or dead, is elsewhere in the world. It will be hard to pay back Ikarios, if willingly I dismiss my mother. I will suffer some evil from her father, and the spirit will give me more yet, for my mother will call down her furies upon me as she goes out of the house, and I shall have the people’s resentment.” Basically, the Furies are goddesses of vengeance and retribution. Although that is kind of different than justice, these characters are intertwined in wrongdoing against a family, and in this text when you do a family wrong revenge, or “justice” is the only explanation. In the end, if Telemachus kicked the mother out of the house, he would succeed by angering them. Justice is a main theme explored in several stories of mytholoy, especially the ones in the Odyssey, and out of all the ones I think it is one of the most major ones. The characters in this situation, just like the characters in other books and etc., react the way they are supposed to. The cause-and-effect theme that goes with the theme of justice was a typical theme in mythology.

  26. “Hear me, Poseidon, who circle the earth, dark-haired. If truly I am your son, and you acknowledge yourself as my father, grant that Odysseus, sacker of cities, son of Laertes, who makes his home in Ithaka, may never reach that home; but if it is decided that he shall see his own people, and come home to his strong-founded house and to his own country, let him come late, in bad case, with the loss of all his companions, in someone else’s ship, and find troubles in his household.” ‘So he spoke in prayer, and the dark-haired god heard him.’
    This quote was said by Polyphemus shortly after Odysseus blinds, steals and taunts him. Polyphemus does what any smart child would do and takes it to a parental figure so they can seek out justice. The justice in this case is that both sides were wronged by the other and both think they are right. Poseidon takes it into his hands to make Odysseus’s life miserable and that makes it a sort of justice.

    • Polyphemus invokes his father Poseidon as well as fate to his aid in cursing Odysseus. I think this was a really good quote idea because it showcases two views. This is evidence that notions of fate and free will are not mutually exclusive. Odysseus chooses to blind the Cyclops and to reveal his name, therefore it is his fate to suffer at sea. His pride, not his destiny, is what determines the following course of events.

  27. In book 5, Athena finally convinces Zeus to help Odysseus leave Kalypso’s island. Fortunately, Zeus agrees that the hero has spent much to long without his home and family. So Zeus sends Hermes the Wayfinder to tell Kalypso that the man she has fallen in love with must leave her. She tells Hermes, “I fed him, loved him, sang that he should not die nor grow old, ever, in all the days to come. But now there’s no eluding Zeus’s will. If this thing be ordained by him, I say so be it, let the man strike out alone on the vast water. Surely I cannot ‘send’ him. I have no long-oared ships, no company to pull him on the broad back of the sea. My counsel he shall have, and nothing hidden, to help him homeward without harm.” (line ~134-143). To which Hermes responds, “Thus you shall send him, then. And show more grace in your obedience, or be chastised by Zeus.” (line ~45-46). This interaction is a prime example of authority and surrender. The overpowering authority of Zeus, or any powerful king or dictator, cannot be refused even for something as pure and strong as love. Kalypso’s unwilling surrender of Odysseus shows us the bitter resentfulness that some people may have had towards their leader when they took their lovers, husbands, fathers, or sons to be sent off to fight in a war. Kalypso’s loss of Odysseus can be compared to what people had to give up to the overpowering authority of their king.

  28. “You two wrench Melanthius’ arms and legs behind him… and strapped a twisted cable fast to the scoundrel’s body, hoist him up a column until he hits the rafters- let him dangle in agony, still alive, for a good long time!”. Melanthius had no hope that Odysseus was going to come back home, so he found where Odysseus was hiding the armor/weapons and gave them to the suitors. Melanthius had been one of Odysseus’s most loyal servants, yet we has brutally tortured and murdered. The quote provides a clear demonstration on how violence played a role in Greek culture. I feel as if whenever there was any kind of crime committed, violence was the always number one option. They didn’t really know how else to go about punishing those who had done wrong. With war being on an-going issue during these times, it all sort of makes sense. With so much exposure to violence every day at war, wouldn’t it only make sense that it would translate to none-war situations? In conclusion, through Odysseus’s actions toward Melanthius, you get a vivid image on how violence played a big role in Greek culture.

  29. Negotiation. A deal between two sides in hopes of satisfaction for both parties. In the Odyssey Odysseus is stranded on an island with Calypso. He has been there some time with her and the goddess Athena takes recognition. She then negotiates with Zeus’ thoughts of punishment and agrees that Odysseus has suffered enough. Athena then negotiates with Odysseus’s son Telemachus, that if his father does not return than he may marry off his mother to the awaiting suitors. Late in the Odyssey, Odysseus and his crew are trapped in a cyclops’s cave and he enjoys eating humans. Odysseus tries to make a plea bargain with the one eyed monster, “I was bringing it to you as an offering hoping you would pity me and help me get home,”(Homer 278). Odysseus and his men are searching for any way out of this dreadful cave where being eaten is a frightening possibility. As it turns out Odysseus plans to trick this beast in order to escape his wrath. Odysseus’s idea is an brilliant one, he drugs the cyclops and plans to stab him in the eye during his slumber. Odysseus and Athena create different plans that help them save others or themselves from tough situations. There tend to be many obstacles in Greek culture and many interesting techniques dealing with these difficulties. The Greeks definitely have an intricate world of their own.

  30. Polyphemus says, “Sick at heart for your master’s eye that coward gouged out with his wicked crew- only after he’d stunned my wits with wine-” (Book 9: 505-507). In this quote, the Cyclops is referring to when Odysseus gouged his eye out. This is one of the major display of violence in The Odyssey. Odysseus is able to escape Polyphemus’ wrath by poking his eye out. This is a very violent image to think of for anyone. This shows the pure brutality that anyone would endure in order to save themselves from a beast. Violence is very prominent in most of the tales in The Odyssey, but Polyphemus and Odysseus is one of the most striking, due to its utter violent approach to end a conflict.

  31. “In Ismaros, I pillaged the town and killed the men. The women and the treasure that we took out I divided as fairly as I could among all hands.” (Book IX, Lines 43-45) These lines showcase one of the many acts of violence throughout Odysseus’ adventures in the ‘Odyssey’. Odysseus starts his journey home by sacking the city of Ismaros. Odysseus and his men take anything of value, and treat the inhabitants as less than human. Killing them, raping their women, and seizing all their possessions. These are some of the most heinous acts of violence that a person could commit, and yet it did not dwindle the opinion of Odysseus to Ancient Greek audiences. The characters in the story were merely taking what they needed, and what they considered rightfully theirs when they conquered the city. This portion of the story is a direct representation of Greek ideology and way of life. The Greeks believed that when you defeated someone, or conquered a people you immediately inherited all their possessions. Which could have been anything from their food and property to their spouse. These lines also illustrate the sense of power that the Greeks had over themselves and other people. Their lust for control and dominance, as well as their hunger for challenge and conquest.

  32. “Mortals! They are always blaming the gods for their troubles, when their own witlessness causes them more then what they were destined for.”(Book 1) The main issue being pointed out in this statement is that the humans or mortals are being too foolish. When he says witlessness he is talking about how they think the gods are supposed too make everything find and dandy. On the other hand they are just supposed too make the world fair. The gods feel betrayed by the mortals and they should perhaps seek some revenge. I personally think that the gods have all right in the world to be mad. the mortals think that the gods must supply good and destroy evil, but in reality they are just supposed to balance it all.

  33. “Damn it all, the gods must have changed their minds about Odysseus while I was away…he’s destined to escape the great ring of sorrow that has closed around him. But I’ll bet I can still blow some trouble his way.” This quote shows how unforgiving and ruthless enemies or figures of authority can be. Odysseus is on his journey home to Ithaca when Poseidon discovers his progress, and aims to annihilate him. This quote from the passage demonstrates the particular war-oriented theme of hatred. Poseidon does not want Odysseus to be successful in returning home. That is why any time Odysseus tries to travel by sea, his ship or raft is smashed to pieces by waves or he loses his crew, all in an attempt to keep him from getting home as revenge for blinding one of his sons. Odysseus is unsure of what is going to happen to him in the water, but he wishes he had died in Troy, a much more honorable death, rather than to die lost at sea. It is unfair the way that Poseidon was treating Odysseus. After he survived the first storm at sea, Poseidon should have realized that all of the odds were in Odysseus’ favor. His efforts to bring even more pain to Odysseus just show that he is full of hatred. Yet it is interesting how even though Odysseus is filled with sorrow and thinks that he will never see Ithaca again, still perseveres. He does not give up on life and I think this says a lot about Greek society. It was better to tough it out than it was to give up. Additionally, while battling a war, external or internal, it is important to keep fighting until the end.

  34. The quote i extracted from the text was “Winds from East, South, North, and West fell upon him all at the same time, and a tremendous sea got up, so that Ulysses’ heart began to fail him. “Alas,” he said to himself in his dismay, “what ever will become of me? I am afraid Calypso was right when she said I should have trouble by sea before I got back home. It is all coming true. How black is Jove making heaven with his clouds, and what a sea the winds are raising from every quarter at once. I am now safe to perish.” It portrays How Ulysses ignores the warnings that the Calypso was trying to give him and the consequences of doing so. Also, it shows how Ulysses surrenders to Jove’s power after feeling helpless at sea as he says “I am now safe to perish” as in acceptance to his fate while understanding what he had done wrong. Surrendering to a higher power after deliberately going against the morally correct option.

  35. The odyssey is one of the most revered texts of all time. It is timeless in its capture of war, religion, and the story of a hero. The quote from the text I would like to examine is “all men need gods.” As a person that is rather religious I heavily believe in this quote. Sometimes religion can be the only thing that gets you by. In Odysseus’s case it is what gets him by. The help of Athena and Zeus are crucial in him realizing his ultimate goal of a home coming in Ithaca. While the gods were originally against him, due to the fact that he helped burn down troy, including the temple to Poseidon, but the tides were turned when Athena decided to help him and Zeus soon followed. It just goes to show what a little faith can do for you when you are at your weakest.

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