The role of gods in The Odyssey was to use their powers to help or hinder the lives of people. When using their powers, it determined the events that would later occur in this story. In the epic poem The Odyssey by Homer, he shows that gods can and will do whatever they want to help or hinder people’s lives. This is one of the most prevalent themes in the epic. There are multiple ways in which the gods showcased this theme.
One of the main ways they changed people’s lives is through force. The wind god Aeolus helps the soldiers get home after the battle at Troy. Aeolus uses his powers to help soldiers get back home. “Never once did the wind fail, once the god had set it blowing.”(74-79) When Aeolus causes the winds to blow faster and stronger, it helps the boat sail faster and safer. Another example of gods using force is when Poseidon makes Odysseus’ trip back to Ithaca difficult. Polyphemus says “Hear me, Poseidon who circle the earth, dark-haired. If truly I am your son, and you acknowledge yourself as my father, grant that Odysseus, sacker of cities, son of Laertes, who makes his home in Ithaca, may never reach that home.” (528-536). Poseidon acknowledges this and is now going to do everything in his power to make Odysseus’ trip back to Ithaca difficult. Overall, whenever gods use force, it is to contribute to an already good thing, or to make life for people difficult.
The second instances of gods changing people’s lives by using their powers and authority to change the future. In one scenario Zeus, makes it clear that Odysseus will return home. “Odysseus shall come back by the convoy neither of the gods nor of mortal people, but he shall sail on a jointed raft and, suffering hardships.’ (100-101). Already, Zeus has determined Odysseus’ future. It doesn’t matter what the gods do, no matter what. Odysseus will get back home. Another example of god’s helping people using the future is when Odysseus is informed by a goddess that he will suffer hardships. He knows the future has obstacles he must face. ‘Ah me unhappy, what in the long outcome will befall me? I fear the goddess might have spoken the truth in all ways when she said that on the sea and before I came to my country I would go through hardships’ (299-305). Odysseus knows that he will have to go through hardships. This motivates him even more to get back home to see his son, wife, and kingdom. If the goddess would’ve never informed him of his future, he might not have the motive and decide to take the easy out, instead of working hard towards his goals. In conclusion, knowing the future can help people because it will change their mindset to achieve their goal.
The third way god’s help people is physically helping them in person. They show up in real life to help people. Athena shows up in person after Odysseus comes back home. She says ‘But come now, let me make you so that no mortal can recognize you. For I will wither the handsome flesh that is on your flexible limbs, and ruin the brown hair on your head.’ (396-403). Athena helps Odysseus by changing him into a beggar. Because he will be a beggar no one will know that the beggar is Odysseus. Not only does Athena talks to Odysseus, she talks to Telemachus in person. She says “Telemachos, you are to be no thoughtless man, no coward, if truly the strong force of your father is instilled in you; such a man he was for accomplishing word and action.” (267-272) She says this to motivate him to be like his father. She wants him to be heroic and do the right thing. In conclusion, when a god or goddess shows up in real life to help, it is to give people advice, or aid the people in their objective by using their powers.
Gods or goddesses can help or hindered people’s lives in many ways such using force, through seeing the future, or physically helping people in person. The first way gods or goddess helped people was through force. They would use their powers to do this. Whenever the powers where used, it would change the climate or create challenges for characters to endure. Secondly, they would see the future. When they see the future, they can change it or inform people so they can prepare for the future. Lastly, gods or goddess help or hinder people’s lives physically in person. Often times, if a god or goddess meets a character in real life, the god or goddess has a really good intention of helping you. In conclusion, I think that gods and goddess have a lot of power in what people do in the story. They can whatever they want when they feel like it. Sometimes they will do something bad for the person or do something beneficial for the person.