Free Will and Fate in the Odyssey
Homer’s View of Free Will and Fate in the Odyssey Free will and fate are both prominent in the Odyssey. In the Odyssey, free will is depicted whenever characters make decisions. In example, Odysseus blinds the Cyclops, Polyphemus. Fate, in the Odyssey, is the consequences that are dealt out due to certain actions. In the case of Odysseus and Polyphemus, the consequence is that when Odysseus is on a ship heading home to reach Ithaca, Poseidon, being the father of Polyphemus, sends a storm at Odysseus being angry that Odysseus blinded his son. In that scenario, Odysseus makes the decision to blind Polyphemus to escape, and in turn, the consequence is that Poseidon attempts to hit him with a storm in the sea. The contrasting themes of
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Penelope would have probably chosen one of the suitors much sooner, and they wouldn’t have all died. If Telemachus didn’t have to tell Odysseus that the suitors were an evil bunch, and instead just said that they were a bunch of men looking for a wife, then many would doubt that Odysseus would have killed them all. But, as it stands, the suitors did make a poor decision, and their fate was quite a poor outcome. The death of the suitors could also be looked at as a fate prescribed by the Gods. Once they knew how bad the suitors were, they guided the suitors to their deaths; “Yes, try the suitors. You may collect a few more loaves, and learn who are the decent lads, and who are vicious- although not one can be excused from death!" (Homer 423) This statement by Athena is evidence that the Gods give consent to the death of all the suitors. When Athena says for Odysseus to kill them, it proves that the suitors’ poor choices affected their fate, and ultimately, ended with their deaths. The scenario with the suitors easily proves that depending on the choices that one makes, even if it doesn’t seem to have any immediate consequences, there are always consequences. Throughout the book, Homer’s understanding of free will and fate are closely related to the ideas of free will and fate in this modern world. He demonstrates that in the book, for every action there is a consequence.