Although this blog post may seem a little untraditional, there’s one topic I am extremely interested in diving into: Athena and her role in the actions of the characters.
In Greek mythology, the Gods played an immense role in the lives of mortals on earth. One may feel that the Gods toy and manipulate humans solely for the fun of it. Athena, the daughter of Zeus has a large role in controlling Odysseus’s fate. After observing her rather spotty appearances through out the Odyssey, it seems that she presents herself at times to help Odysseus, such as saving him from drowning after Zeus struck down his ship. Athena plays a major role in controlling the actions and decisions of the characters in the Odyssey as seen in books 17 and 18. She mainly focuses on controlling Odysseus’s fate by directing the decisions of Odysseus himself and the people around him. Behind every twist and turn in the progression of the story, Athena seems to be right behind the source of the action. But why is Athena so invested in the happenings on earth if she is so far disconnected from mortal life? Is it simply because she enjoys controlling the actions of the mortals, because she enjoys pawning them around in her own game, or is there really such a thing as “fate”. Are the Gods the enforcers of “fate” or the creators, what is their purpose in interacting with life on earth?
Examples of this:
-Athena gives Odysseus strength to fight the beggar Iros on page 337: “Athena/ stood nearby to give him bulk and power” (XVIII, 283-284)
– Could Odysseus not fight him and win on his own?
– Athena suggests that Odysseus should try and meet the suitors individually on page 22: “try the suitors./ you may collect a few more loaves, and learn/ who are the decent lads , and who are vicious” (XVII, 470-473)
– This action seems ridiculous given that Odysseus’s mission is to slaughter all of the suitors, wouldn’t talking to them personally create more conflict?
– Athena binds Amphinomos to death after Odysseus sees the good in him, page 340. “Now his heart foreknew/ the wrath to come, but he could not take flight,/ being by Athena bound there./ Death would have him/ broken by a spear thrown by Telemakhos.” (XVIII, 194-198)
– How did Athena bind him there? Are the Gods able to completely control the actions of the mortals? What influence did she have over him to prevent him from leaving?
– Athena gave Penelope grace, confident, and great beauty to speak to the suitors on page 342: “the grey-eyed goddess had her own designs.. the goddess/endowed her with immortal grace to hold/ the eyes of the Akhaians… grandeur she gave her, too, in height and form,/ and made her whiter than carved ivory” (XVIII, 236,241-242,256-257)
– Athena seems to be “designing” her own plan for Penelope, does that mean she is creating her fate for her? Or is it already set and Athena’s just taking the necessary steps to get her there?