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The Odyssey Justice Quotes

How we cite our quotes: (Book.Line)

Quote #1

(Telemachos:) '[…] fear also the gods' anger, lest they, astonished by evil actions, turn against you. I supplicate you, by Zeus the Olympian and by Themis who breaks up the assemblies of men and calls them in session: let be, my friends, and leave me alone with my bitter sorrow to waste away; unless my noble father Odysseus at some time in anger did evil to the strong-greaved Achaians, for which angry with me in revenge you do me evil in setting these on me.' (2.66-74)

Themis is the Greek goddess of something like social order—the way things are done, good conduct, divine law. By invoking Themis, Telemachos is reminding the suitors that what they're doing isn't just super annoying and insulting to him—it's an offense against the gods.

Quote #2

(Telemachos:) 'Antinoös, 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.' (2.130-137)

The Furies are goddesses of vengeance and retribution, which is subtly—but importantly—different from justice. They're particularly invested in crimes against family, so Telemachos would seriously tick them off by kicking his mom out of the house.

Quote #3

(Polyphemos, in Odysseus's tale:) '"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.' (9.528-536)

Polyphemos wants revenge. But is it justice? Zeus lets it happen—for a while, at least—so we're inclined to think that maybe it is. The question is whether it's Odysseus's punishment for blinding the guy, or for being dumb enough to reveal his name.

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