The Odyssey Piety Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
(Proteus, in Menelaos's tale:) '"But you should have made grand sacrifices to Zeus and the other immortal gods, and so gone on board, so most quickly to reach your own country, sailing over the wine-blue water. It is not your destiny now to see your own people and come back to your strong-founded house and to the land of your fathers, until you have gone back once again to the water of Egypt, the sky-fallen river, and there have accomplished holy hecatombs in honor of all the immortal gods who hold wide heaven. Then the gods will grant you that journey that you so long for."' (4.472-480)
Coulda, shoulda, woulda. We're pretty sure that Odysseus will do a lot of sacrificing before he steps one foot on a boat again.
'[…] and Aias would have escaped his doom, though Athene hated him, had he not gone wildly mad and tossed out a word of defiance; for he said that in despite of the gods he escaped the great gulf of the sea, and Poseidon heard him, loudly vaunting, and at once with his ponderous hands catching up the trident he drove it against the Gyrean rock, and split a piece off it, and part of it stayed where it was, but a splinter crashed in the water, and this was where Aias had been perched when he raved so madly. It carried him down to the depths of the endless and tossing main sea. So Aias died, when he had swallowed down the salt water.' (4.502-511)
Now for something completely different. We see a lot of examples of piety in the Odyssey, and here's an example of impiety. It buys you a one way ticket to certain, immediate death.
(Odysseus:) 'Hear me, my lord, whoever you are. I come in great need to you, a fugitive from the sea and the curse of Poseidon; even for immortal gods that man has a claim on their mercy who comes to them as a wandering man, in the way that I now come to your current and to your knees after much suffering. Pity me then, my lord. I call myself your supplicant.' He spoke, and the river stayed its current, stopped the waves breaking, and made all quiet in front of him and let him get safely into the outlet of the river.' (5.445-454)
We get the feeling that praying to an unknown river god is sort of like begging your car to start or your computer not to crash when you have six pages full of unsaved work. And we really wish it worked. (Maybe if we poured some Diet Dr. Pepper on the floor?)