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Conversation of Actions and Mutual Exchanges in The Odyssey

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Agarwal | ________________ Rachit Agarwal Pre-IB English 9 Brown September 18th, 2012 Conversation of Actions and Mutual Exchanges in The Odyssey For some, the concept of retribution and reward from gods is key in the world. This is indirectly shown in The Odyssey by Homer. In this epic, there are many examples showing that characters are greatly affected by the gods when they respond to situations in their experiences in certain ways, but it is equally important to examine the reasons behind these exchanges of actions between the gods and humans. The humans provide services for the gods, and in return, the gods do the same. The relationship of mutual benefit between Odysseus and the gods Kirke, Athena, and Poseidon reveals the role of gods in Greek culture as drastically important in intervening in the lives of humans. When Odysseus is leaving the island of Aeaea to head home, the island goddess Kirke advises Odysseus of many obstacles that he will need to overcome on his journey. ...read more.


She says this many times to various characters, calming them down in times of need. Furthermore, Athena makes visual changes to Odysseus to assist him in carrying out his cunning plans. When Odysseus is with the Phaiakians for the games, Athena ?[pours] out her grace upon him, head and shoulders, height and mass?a splendor awesome to the eyes of the Phaiakians? [8.21-23]. Another instance is when Odysseus plans to disguise himself to confront Eumaios. ?? [Athena]? shriveled the clear skin of his arms and legs, made all his hair fall out, cast over him the wrinkled hide of an old man, and bleared both his eyes? [13.538-542]. Essentially, Athena assists Odysseus in completing his actions to achieve his goals by disguising him. The gods Athena and Kirke clearly have a positive influence on Odysseus. However, Odysseus is negatively affected to the extreme by Poseidon. With near-fatal consequences, Poseidon, one of the main antagonists of the story, attempts to sabotage Odysseus? adventure home. For one thing, ?Poseidon, god of earthquake? the island-shaker? struck [the ship] into stone? [13.199-204]. ...read more.


This shows the Greek value of heroism in people. Since both the gods and heroic characteristics are representative of Greek culture, they are similar. Ergo, Athena and Odysseus are ?similar? in the same way, so presumably Athena helps Odysseus because he embodies the same Greek values that the goddess symbolizes. Essentially, Odysseus is the epitome of Greek values. However, it is also important to note that the gods give the humans some flexibility in making their own decisions, so that they can learn from their experiences and test or evaluate their skills in the real world (like Kirke did with Odysseus). When minstrels passed on the epic stories, it is probable that they wished to pass on the Greek culture onto the next generation. Indeed, this was the overall purpose of Homer?s Odyssey: expressing values, conventions, and culture of the Greeks through a complex and heroic story represented as an ?epic.? Homer connects and combines various stories and characters to tell a story that is a symbol for Greek culture itself. The importance of passing on culture in any society in this world is reflected upon by Marcus Garvey: ?A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots. ...read more.

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