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The Odyssey

The Odyssey


by Homer

The Odyssey Fate and Free Will Quotes

How we cite our quotes: (Book.Line)

Quote #7

(Menelaos:) ‘[…] no one of the Achaians labored as much as Odysseus labored and achieved, and for him the end was grief for him, and for me a sorrow that is never forgotten for his sake, how he is gone so long, and we know nothing of whether he is alive or dead.’ (4.106-110)

Menelaos seems to use fate for purposes of comfort; he is able to resign himself and accept his suffering (with regards to his missing friend) because it is the will of the gods.

Quote #8

(Proteus, in Menelaos's tale:) '"But for you, Menelaos, O fostered of Zeus, it is not the gods' will that you shall die and go to your end in horse-pasturing Argos, but the immortals will convey you to the Elysian Field, and the limits of the earth, where fair-haired Rhadamanthys is, and where there is made the easiest life for mortals, for there is no snow, nor much winter there, nor is there ever rain, but always the stream of Ocean sends up breezes of the West Wind blowing briskly for the refreshment of mortals."' (4.561-568)

Well, here's an example of fate planning something good: Odysseus isn't going to die and go to (presumably) Hades with the rest of us commoners. Instead, he's going to enjoy some immortality with the rest of the Greek heroes in the Elysian fields. Does that make his ten years of suffering any easier to deal with?

Quote #9

(Zeus:) ‘[Odysseus] shall come back by the convoy neither of the gods nor of mortal people, but he shall sail on a jointed raft and, suffering hardships, on the twentieth day make his landfall on fertile Scheria at the country of the Phaiakians who are near the gods in origin, and they will honor him in their hearts as a god, and send him back, by ship, to the beloved land of his fathers, bestowing bronze and hold in abundance upon him, and clothing, more than Odysseus could ever have taken away from Troy, even if he had escaped unharmed with his fair share of the plunder. For so it is fated that he shall see his people and come back to his house with the high roof and to the land of his fathers.’ (5.31-42)

Zeus reveals that it is his will – and thus Fate – that Odysseus should reach Ithaka safely and with treasure – but without his friends at his side. Fate, then, is determined by the will of this god and subject to change at his whim; it isn’t a pre-planned determination.

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