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Quotes

Quote #1

(Zeus): 'Oh for shame, how the mortals put the blame on us gods, for they say evils come from us, but it is they, rather, who by their own recklessness win sorrow beyond what is given […].' (1.32-34)

"Fate" seems little more like cause-and-effect than some divine master plan: if you goof things up by, say, telling the giant you've just blinded your name, then you're going to get Poseidon after you. That's just how it works.

Quote #2

(Zeus:) “For his sake Poseidon, shaker of the earth, although he does not kill Odysseus, yet drives him back from the land of his fathers. But come, let all of us who are here work out his homecoming and see to it that he returns. Poseidon shall put away his anger; for all alone and against the will of the other immortal gods united he can accomplish nothing.” (1.74-79)

The way that Poseidon functions under Zeus’s will is a perfect example of fate and free will combined. While he must eventually allow Odysseus to go home, he gets to choose how long it takes and how much the man will suffer in the process. Similarly, Odysseus is fated 1) to suffer and 2) to eventually go home, but his actions along the way are a matter of choice. The question then is whether, with the end point decided, the path to get there matters at all.

Quote #3

(Telemachos:) ‘My guest, since indeed you are asking me all these questions, there was a time this house was one that might be prosperous and above reproach, when a certain man was here in his country.’ (1.231-233)

Telemachos considers his bad luck the work of the gods. He feels that the gods who favored them so have vanished along with Odysseus. Being abandoned by the gods is, to the ancient Greeks, akin to being cursed.

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