The Odyssey


Significant Quotations

1. Ah how shameless—the way these mortals blame the gods.

From us alone, they say, come all their miseries, yes,

but they themselves, with their own reckless ways,

compound their pains beyond their proper share. (1.38-41)

Here, Zeus is speaking to his daughter Athena, who has come to plead with him on behalf of Odysseus. The tone that Zeus takes exemplifies both the humanlike qualities of the gods in Homer’s Odyssey as well as the interesting relationship between humans and gods, which is a close one. Zeus is expressing a deep exasperation with the follies of humans, and pointing out the mortal tendency to blame the gods for all that happens to them rather than taking responsibility for their own actions. Zeus sounds like an exhausted father, which is typical of the personable qualities that Homer gives these almighty divinities. At the same time, it highlights the close relationship of the Homerian gods to the mortals under their jurisdiction. Though they live separately from mortals, they are extremely involved in their affairs. However, as Zeus here points out, the gods do not arbitrarily mete out justice simply for their own amusement. Rather, human beings have a great deal of free will, which they often choose to exercise foolishly, bringing hardship upon themselves.

2. “Telemachus,”

the bright-eyed goddess Athena reassured him,

“some of the words you’ll find within yourself,

the rest some power will inspire you to say.

You least of all—I know—

Were born and reared without the gods’ good will.” (3.27-32)

Athena offers this encouraging speech to Telemachus before he approaches King Nestor to ask for word of his father. Telemachus, just beginning his own personal “odyssey” toward manhood, is shy and worried about his ability to address an older, respected man. This speech offers a good example...

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Essays About The Odyssey