Free Will and Fate in the Odyssey

Topics: Odyssey, Odysseus, Homer Pages: 4 (1582 words) Published: October 3, 2011
Homer’s View of Free Will and Fate in the Odyssey
Free will and fate are both prominent in the Odyssey. In the Odyssey, free will is depicted whenever characters make decisions. In example, Odysseus blinds the Cyclops, Polyphemus. Fate, in the Odyssey, is the consequences that are dealt out due to certain actions. In the case of Odysseus and Polyphemus, the consequence is that when Odysseus is on a ship heading home to reach Ithaca, Poseidon, being the father of Polyphemus, sends a storm at Odysseus being angry that Odysseus blinded his son. In that scenario, Odysseus makes the decision to blind Polyphemus to escape, and in turn, the consequence is that Poseidon attempts to hit him with a storm in the sea. The contrasting themes of free will and fate serve to represent the poet’s beliefs on the subject through emphasis throughout the work of the importance of both.

In the Odyssey, the significance of fate is that it eventually determines what happens to the people. The Gods represent a part of fate in the Odyssey. Their free will is what can guide the fate of everyday humankind. So, by exercising their powers, and deciding on certain things, such as when Zeus decides to send Hermes to set Odysseus free of Calypso, the Gods determine the choices that mankind can make. Broken down, the free will of the Gods is the guide for the fate of man. The Gods can sort of point man in the right direction, but man still has to choose to go in that direction. Back to Calypso, Zeus had sent Hermes to let Calypso know that she needed to let Odysseus go. However, although Calypso knew that she had to let Odysseus go, she still gave Odysseus a choice. She gave Odysseus the option to stay, and become immortal; “You would stay here, and guard this house, and be immortal” (Homer 267). However, Odysseus still chooses that he wants to go back home, and so he makes his own decision. Of course, the Gods probably knew that Odysseus longed to get back to his wife,...
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