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Flaws of Society and Man Revealed in Odyssey

Society is formed around morals, but society is ruined by the flaws of the citizens. Man has come a long way since the time of Homer, yet there are still many blemishes prominent in man, which binds man to society and society to man. Homer uses Odyssey to address and analyze these flaws of society and man such as man’s distrusting spirit, man’s survival based on others’ misfortune, and man’s nature to gain unworthy assistance through pity. These vices are universal, and no one, not even the immortals, may eliminate them.

One of the main flaws with man is their distrusting spirit. Even Odysseus himself, is distrustful of others when others have not yet proven their trust. Since Calypso has not yet proven her trust to Odysseus, Odysseus does not feel that he should trust her even when her intentions are pure. Because of his distrust, when Calypso was meant to send Odysseus on his way, he made Calypso take an oath and says, “I will never, notwithstanding what you say, set foot upon a raft till you consent, goddess, to swear a solemn oath that you are not meaning to plot me further woe”(48). Even with Calypso just being a messenger of the gods, Odysseus still will not put his trust in her. In order to allow himself to depend on Calypso, he must be assured by the gods that Calypso means no harm.

Along with people having to prove their trust, Odysseus takes away the trust he sets in others and the gods when he is doubtful of himself. Once Odysseus experiences self-doubt, then he undergoes a mental process in which no one may be trusted. This can be overcome once a god makes Odysseus believe in himself again. One of the most prominent …

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…s of mankind. It is then reasonable to conclude that the immortals themselves have imperfections as well, for if they were perfect then wouldn’t they make the mortals perfect too? If perverted man is dependent on the corrupt gods, then how could society ever be a utopia?

Works Cited and Consulted

Crane, Gregory , Calypso: Backgrounds and Conventions of the Odyssey, Frankfurt, Athenaeum 1988.

Heubeck, Alfred, J.B. Hainsworth, et al. A commentary on Homer’s Odyssey. 3 Vols. Oxford PA4167 .H4813 1988.

Homer (Translated by Robert Fagles. Preface by Bernard Knox). The Odyssey. New York: Viking Penguin, div. of Penguin Books, Ltd. 1996.

Rengakos, Antonios. Homertext und die Hellenistichen Dichter. Hermes. Einzelschriften, Heft 64. Stuttgart, F. Steiner, 1993.

Van der Valk, Marchinus. Textual Criticism of the Odyssey. Leiden: A.W. Sijthoff, 1949.

Odysseus as Pawn of the Gods in Homer’s Odyssey

Odysseus as Pawn of the Gods in The Odyssey

Throughout literature characters have relied upon entities greater then themselves to furnish them with aid as they meet the many challenges they must face. The Odyssey is a tale of Odysseus’ epic journey and the many obstacles that bar his return home. But Odysseus is not alone in this struggle and receives aid from many gods, especially the clear-eyed goddess Athena. There are times when Odysseus beseeches the gods for aid, but other times he is too foolhardy to receive aid from even the immortal gods. In Homer’s The Odyssey, Odysseus’ journey revolves around the cyclical phases of his dependence, independence and his return to reliance upon the gods’ aid.

While with Calypso Odysseus relies upon the gods to decide whether he shall return home or if he is fated to stay with the nymph goddess. Though Odysseus is powerful amongst mortal men his attempts to free himself from Calypso’s island prove to be in vain. Instead, Odysseus must wait, for “…in the gods’ lap it lies to say if he shall come and wreak revenge in his halls…” (6). Odysseus must bow to the gods’ wishes and it is Athena, rather then Odysseus himself, who convinces mighty Zeus to free Odysseus and set him upon his journey home. Athena pleads Odysseus’ cause to the gods upon Olympus and beseeches her father begging that “…if it now please the blessed gods that wise Odysseus shall return to his own home…” (2) then she will aid him in this journey. Were it not for Athena’s intervention, Odysseus might never have returned to his native land and seen his dear Ithica once more.

Through Telemachus, Odyssues’ son, the reader sees Odysseus’ utter dependence upon the gods’ aid. During Telemachus’ journey, all those th…

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…Despite this high rank, he is still a pawn of the gods’ whims. Although in today’s society monotheism prevails, many of Homer’s lessons, which he demonstrates through his portrayal of Odysseus, apply today. Many people today still believe that a supreme entity determines and governs their fate and that everyone is merely a pawn in the game of life.

Works Cited and Consulted

Bloom, Harold , Homer’s Odyssey: Edited and with an Introduction, NY, Chelsea House 1988

Crane, Gregory , Calypso: Backgrounds and Conventions of the Odyssey, Frankfurt, Athenaeum 1988

David W. Tandy and Walter C. Neale (edd. and trans.), Hesiod’s Works and Days: A Translation and Commentary for the Social Sciences. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996. Pp. xiv, 149.

Heubeck, Alfred, J.B. Hainsworth, et al. A commentary on Homer’s Odyssey. 3 Vols. Oxford PA4167 .H4813 1988

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