Odysseus’ Search for Purpose in Homer's Odyssey Essay

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Odysseus’ Search for Purpose in The Odyssey

As a wayfarer in life, The Odyssey focuses on life’s greater purpose through the fulfillment of destiny, perseverance, and loyalty. These three themes recur continuously throughout Odysseus’ journey, molding life’s greater vision. Odysseus comes to understand his purpose in life by remaining true to these major themes as he faces and conquers each obstacle in his journey.

The overarching theme of The Odyssey is the belief that man cannot escape the destiny which has been preordained for him by the gods. Destiny plays a vital role in the survival of Odysseus throughout his adventures. As Odysseus languishes on the island of Calypso, Hermes commands her to free Odysseus in order for
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Odysseus’ freedom to make his own decisions is altered my what the gods have preordained for him.

Not only do the gods have control over the day-to-day destiny of mankind, but they also decide the circumstances of each mortal’s life. No matter how a mortal struggles, he will die under the conditions that the gods have set out for him. Eurymachus explains to Penelope, "Death from the gods can no man shun"(161). Eurymachus seeks to comfort Penelope by pointing out that worrying about the fate of her loved ones is useless, since their fate will be decided by the gods and once it has, there is no escaping it.

Throughout Odysseus’ journey he is able to persevere against the overwhelming odds he is faced with. The driving force behind Odysseus’ perseverance is his hunger to get home; his crew however does not share this passion and therefore lacks the strength of character to fight on. Odysseus looks back on his life or death struggle as his ship is lost in Poseidon’s storm, " out of the ship my comrades fell and then like sea-fowl were borne by the side of the black ship along the waves; god cut them off from coming home. I myself paced the ship until the surge tore her ribs off the keel, which the waves then carried along dismantled. The mast broke at the keel; but to it clung the backstay, made of oxhide. With this I bound the two together keel and mast and getting a seat on these, I drifted before the deadly