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The Odyssey

The Odyssey

by Homer

Fate and Free Will Quotes Page 6

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #16

(Teiresias, in Odysseus's tale:) '"Glorious Odysseus, what you are after is sweet homecoming, but the god will make it hard for you. I think you will not escape Shaker of the Earth, who holds a grudge against you in his heart, and because you blinded his dear son, hates you. But even so and still you might come back, after much suffering, if you can contain your own desire, and contain your companions'[…]."' (11.100-105)

Teiresias is supposed to be a prophet, but check out how he uses words like "think" and "might." It doesn't sound like he's really standing behind his reading of the future.

Quote #17

(Odysseus, in his tale:) ‘“Aias, son of stately Telamon, could you then never even in death forget your anger against me, because of that cursed armor? The gods made it to pain the Achaians, so great a bulwark were you, who were lost to them. We Achaians grieved for your death as incessantly as for Achilleus the son of Peleus at his death, and there is no other to blame, but Zeus; he, in his terrible hate for the army of the Danaan spearmen, visited this destruction upon you.”’ (11.553-560)

Odysseus tries to reclaim Aias’s friendship by reminding him that his death was purely ill-starred and no fault of his. He blames Zeus, and not Aias, for taking his life and reminds his friend that one cannot always control his own fate.

Quote #18

(Odysseus:) 'My men were thrown in the water, and bobbing like sea crows they were washed away on the running waves all around the black ship, and the god took away their homecoming.' (12.417-419)

Okay, but as long as we're pointing fingers: was it "the god" who took away their homecoming—or was it they themselves, when the men chose to eat Helios's cattle after they'd been specifically warned against it? Or was it Poseidon, who trapped them on the island for a month, until all their food ran out? Or was it Odysseus, who got Poseidon mad at them by telling Polyphemos his name? You get the point.

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