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The Odyssey

The Odyssey

by Homer

Justice Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #4

(Helios, in Odysseus's tale:) '"Father Zeus, and you other everlasting and blessed gods, punish the companions of Odysseus, son of Laertes; for they outrageously killed my cattle, in whom I always delighted, on my way up into the starry heaven, or when I turned back again from heaven toward earth. Unless these are made to give me just recompense for my cattle, I will go down to Hades' and give my light to dead men."' (12.377-383)

Okay, notice Helios's words "just recompense." We're used to a system of justice where "recompense" means either a fine or a sometime behind bars. But Helios is working from a more eye-for-an-eye sense of justice: they killed my cattle, and now I want them dead.

Quote #5

(Alkinoös:) ‘[…] let us man by man each one of us give a great tripod and a caldron, and we will make it good to us by a collection among the people. It is hard for a single man to be generous.’ (13.13-15)

Alkinoös believes that repaying Odysseus for all that he has lost – his men, twenty years of his life – is only justice for the poor man’s suffering.

Quote #6

(Athene:) 'It is true that the young men with their black ship are lying in wait for him to kill him before he reaches his country; but I think this will not happen, but that sooner the earth will cover some one of those suitors, who now are eating away your substance.' (13.425-428)

Athene's "I think" is more like, "I'll make sure." She is the goddess of justice, after all. If she says that something is right, it's right.

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