Select one important episode/figure (human or divine) from The Odyssey and show what contribution it makes to the poem as a whole.

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Lauren Carnegie                                                        Jack Hill LT111

Select one important episode/figure (human or divine) from The Odyssey and show what contribution it makes to the poem as a whole.

The Odyssey by Homer is a major epic of Greek antiquity, however we know little of Homers identity and it is even a question whether he was in fact one person or a collection of storytellers. The story was originally an oral composition, which would have been, performed either by one or many performers.

The Odyssey tells the story of Odysseus and his attempts to return home from Troy after the battle. We see various adventures with mythical monsters and Odysseus’ constant battle with many Gods to return to his wife and homeland of Ithaca.  Odysseus is a brave and cunning warrior who is also aided through his voyages by many Gods, this is apparent in The Odyssey through the patronage of Athene, Zeus’s daughter. Athene was Zeus’ favourite child and was born bearing an aegis, and hence she became the warrior goddess. She is clearly a very strong female character in an era where women possessed little power and were portrayed as either Gods or monsters. Athene was also goddess of industry and the arts, wisdom, agricultural arts, and of the crafts of women, especially spinning and weaving. She has been described in relation to her actions in The Odyssey towards Odysseus as, “the goddess of success” 

This can be shown through Odysseus’ voyage home and the help he receives from Athene, we see that she has power over the Gods, as well as respect, and a great power with mortals. Athene is known throughout Homer’s epic as the ‘Goddess of flashing eyes’ where he uses repetition to remind the listener of the character’s traits. This description suggests intelligence and an all-knowing and seeing being, however it also expresses the cunning that Athene displays constantly throughout The Odyssey.

We see this most clearly when plotting battles with Odysseus, Homer begins by reminding the listener of Athene’s input into the Trojan war in building the wooden horse, “which Epeius built with Athene’s help” 

Homer gives us insight into Athene’s previous aid to Odysseus and his adventures together with the integration of his previous poem the Iliad. However within The Odyssey she aids Odysseus by assisting him in his battle against the suitors both physically and by advising him,

“And now high in the roof above their heads, Athene raised her deadly aegis.”

Her position in the roof shows her extreme superiority over the suitors and the fact that she does not fight on their level. Homer’s description of the aegis also creates a sense of threat against her enemy and enhances her title as the warrior goddess, but also as the goddess of success. She helps Odysseus to succeed and continues the story by overpowering a group of characters within the poem to create an opening for new situations. Athene uses the mortals like chess pieces, by strategically placing her pieces before attacking as she marks the suitors for death,

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“Not that it saved him from his fate, for Athene had already marked him out to fall to a spear from Telemachus’ hand.”

Athene is clearly the decider of this battle, but also the controller of the fighters’ actions, such as Telemachus. She plans the battles not only to assist Odysseus, but to inform us of the events to come in true Homeric chronological order, but also states, “I am eager for the battle.” which reminds us her character as the warrior goddess. However towards the end of the poem she stops a battle which she had previously encouraged. This is ...

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