The Role of the Gods in Homer's Odyssey Essay

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The Role of the Gods in The Odyssey

In the ancient world, the gods of the Greeks had been predominately confined to cosmological deeds prior to the works of Homer. "As Hesiod laid out the roles of the gods in his Theogony and the Works and Days, it is apparent that though the gods were active in the creation of the cosmos, natural phenomenon, and cyclical events such as seasons, they were not however, functioning in any historical way"(Bloom 36). This strictly cosmological view of the gods was in no way unusual to the ancient world. Though the breech of theology into historical events was perhaps first introduced by the Hebrews at the turn of the first millennia B.C.E., it was soon echoed in the religious paradigms of homo religiosus
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It is at this early place in the poem that he also establishes the connection between the heart and suffering as he proclaims that he is on "that journey which was to mean hard suffering", and he "must have evil to suffer." This suffering he describes with the terms of chaos such as "tearing winds" and sea, and claims that it is none other than the fate of Odysseus to suffer.(106)

As Odysseus retells his story to the Phaikians, he continually reestablishes this link between the heart, suffering and chaos. While fleeing the land of the Kikonians and "grieving still at heart", he and his compliment are subjected to a chaotic "supernatural storm" as "night sprang from heaven". (139) This storm is created by Zeus in his cosmological role as cloud gather, and diverts Odysseus' ships to the land of the Lotus Eaters. This episode attributed no historical value to the actions, but was said "the luck that came our way from Zeus was evil, to make us unfortunate, so we must have hard pains to suffer." (138) In this way Homer depicted the primitive belief held prior to his time, which claimed that suffering was an arbitrary assignment of the gods and had no historical significance.

In a bolder move to show the connection between the will of the gods and suffering Homer tells of Odysseus' misadventure with the Cyclopes. In violation of the guest/host relationship established by Zeus, Polyphemus, a cyclopes and son of Poseidon, makes choice dining of a few of Odysseus'
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