The Odyssey

Mortals: The Playthings of Zeus

Mortals: The Playthings of Zeus

Odysseus escapes the island of Cyclops unharmed. He manages to avoid death at the face of Scylla and Charybdis. And he brings the witch Circe under his control and saves his companions… Though The Odyssey is an epic celebrated for the heroism of Odysseus, there are many instances of synchronicities that keep us from attributing the hero’s success to his abilities alone. And with prophesies and divine interventions occurring throughout, the debate emerges as to the relative significance fate and free will hold in the epic world.

Yet, a careful read of the poem provides us with a new angle. In The Odyssey, humans possess free will only in the short run, since every outcome of events is governed by the decree of Zeus, which the humans deem as fate. Still, this ‘fate’ is not a fate after all, because, as it is subject to the whims of Zeus, it often lacks the crucial quality of having been decreed with a strict adherence to time. The epic insinuates that, ultimately, mortals are left with neither fate nor free will, but only with the free will of Zeus.

Though human beings in The Odyssey lack free will in the long run, it is undeniable that they do have choices over their will and action at any given...

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