Essay about Odysseus’s journey
When making wise decisions, guidance is required in order for one to follow the right path. In The Odyssey by Homer, there are many encounters with gods and goddesses that may result in good or bad during Odysseus’s journey. Some gods such as Hermes, Athena, and Circe have been helpful in his journey, but others, such as Zeus and Poseidon, have done the opposite. Throughout The Odyssey, there are divine interventions that have significantly benefited Odysseus’s journey home by gods and goddesses offering guidance, protection, and supplies to Odysseus.
Circe is a goddess who aides Odysseus on his journey at sea while traveling to Thrinacia. In “The Cattle of the Sun God,” Circe first warns Odysseus of Scylla. She states, “With each of her six heads she snatches up a man from the dark-prowed craft and whisks him off… hug Scylla’s crag-- sail on past her-- top speed! Better by far to lose six men and keep your ship than lose your entire crew,” (12.110-121). What Circe means is that Scylla will take six of his men and how rowing past her and losing six men is better than losing the whole crew and their ship. By providing Odysseus this knowledge, he will be able to escape Scylla. Circe then proceeds to give information of Charybdis. She informs, “Charybdis gulps the dark water down. Three times a day she vomits up, three times she gulps it down, that terror! Don’t be there when the whirlpool swallows down-- not even the earthquake god could save you from disaster,” (12.115-128). This means that Odysseus should avoid the whirlpool since no one will be able to escape once they’re in it. Once again, this provides Odysseus the knowledge on how to avoid more casualties while sailing at sea. Finally, Circe advises Odysseus with a crucial warning about sailing to Thrinacia. She warns, “ Leave the beasts unharmed, your mind set on home, and you may still reach Ithaca-- bent with hardship, true-- but harm them in any way, and I can see it now: your ship destroyed, your men destroyed as well! And even if you escape, you’ll come late, all shipmates lost, and come a broken man,” (12.148-153). This is a warning to Odysseus that he shouldn’t harm the cattle of Helios and they will be safe, but if they do harm the cattle he will lose all his men and his journey will be delayed. Odysseus has to ensure that he nor his men should harm the cattle in order to travel home safely and not face any consequences.
Athena is a divine protector of Odysseus, who throughout the story has saved him from many perils. One example of this is where in Book 22, she had protected Odysseus from spears when she “sent the whole salvo wide of the mark-- one of them it the jamb of the great hall doors, another the massive door itself, and the heavy bronze point of a third ashen javelin crashed against the wall,” (22.267-272). The importance of this event is how Athena protects Odysseus so that he can take his revenge on the suitors that have tarnished his home. Athena also helps him in “Calypso” where she reasons with the other gods that Odysseus has learned his lesson by saying, “He has no way to voyage home to his own native land, no trim ships in reach, no crew to ply the oars and send him scudding over the sea’s broad back. And now his dear son… they plot to kill the dear boy on his way back home,” (5.7-21). This scene is important because Athena wants to convince the gods to release Odysseus and allow him to travel home after seven years. Another example is when she claims to guide Telemachus in preparation for his father’s return and to learn about his journey in Book 1 by stating, “While I myself go down to Ithaca, rouse his son to a braver pitch, inspire his heart with courage to summon the flowing-haired Achaeans to full assembly, speak his mind to all those suitors, slaughtering on and on his droves of sheep and shambling longhorn cattle,” (1.104-108). This statement is important because this will aid Odysseus’s family by guiding Telemachus on how to handle his home, prepare for the revenge on the suitors, and being informed of the development of his father’s journey .
Hermes is a messenger of the gods who has given Odysseus messages and herbs. In “Circe,” Hermes had aided Odysseus on his mission of rescuing his men by providing him a drug called moly. He informs Odysseus of this drug by saying, “Look, here is a potent drug. Take it to Circe’s halls- its power alone will shield you from the fatal day,” (10.318-319). The drug would soon later be used in Odysseus’s benefit by preventing him from falling under Circe’s spell and avoid the fate of his men. Hermes then explains a plan on how to defeat Circe and save his men from peril. To Odysseus, he instructs, “The moment Circe strikes with her long thin wand, you draw your sharp sword sheathed at your hip and rush her fast as if to run her through! She’ll cower in fear and coax you to her bed, not then, not if she’s to release your friends and treat you well yourself. But have her swear the binding oath of the blessed gods that she’ll never plot some new intrigue to harm you,” (10.225-332). Odysseus uses this plan given by Hermes to take authority over Circe and turn his men from swine back into men. Then in “Calypso,” when it is time for Odysseus to finally go home, Hermes is the one to relay the message from the gods and state, “There all the rest of his loyal shipmates died but the wind drove him on, the current bore him here. Now Zeus commands you to send him off will all good speed: it is not his fate to die here, far from his own people. Destiny still ordains that he shall see his loved ones, reach his high-roofed house, his native land at last,” (5.123-128). Without Hermes, nobody would be able to inform Odysseus that he can go home and reason with Calypso to allow Odysseus to travel home.
These examples demonstrate the good deeds gods and goddesses have bestowed onto Odysseus. They have informed him of many things such as monsters, prophecies, and instructions in order to escape the difficult situations he encounters along the way. In conclusion, that is how the gods and goddesses have provided positive interventions throughout the Odyssey by Homer.