Fate In The Odyssey
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The Odyssey, fate plays an important part in the story development. People who believe in fate or destiny think that their lives are spun out in front of them before they are born, and there is nothing they can do to change that. Some characters, like Polyphemos, find out their fate beforehand but still end up fulfilling prophesies they tried to avoid, but most characters acted out their fate without realizing it, like Odysseus. He blinded the Cyclops without knowing that he was destined to do so, but Polyphemos knew that he was going to be blinded by him. ?Once there was a prophet here?who said that all these things in the future would come to pass, /That I would be deprived of my sight at Odysseus? hands.? (127) Odysseus and others are never told what would happen to them in their lives, but they acted it out, and no matter how hard they tried, they couldn?t get out of their destiny.
After Odysseus blinded the Cyclops Polyphemos, Odysseus told him to tell anyone who inquires about his eye that it was Odysseus of Ithaca who blinded him. Polyphemos, son of Poseidon, remembers that it was prophesized that a man would blind him by the name of Odysseus. He then prayed to his father: Hear me, earth girdling Poseidon of the dark blue locks? Grant that the city slacker Odysseus not go homeward, The son of Laertes whose home is in Ithaca.
But if it is his fate to see his dear ones and arrive At his well established home and his fatherland, May he come home late and ill, having lost all his companions?(127-128) It was Polyphemos? fate to be blinded by Odysseus, and he knew it, and it was Odysseus? fate to blind Polyphemos, but was not aware of it. Because Polyphemos was blinded by Odysseus, Odysseus went on a ten-year journey trying to make his way home, most of the way without his companions. Even though it was Odysseus? fate to return home late and without his companions, he worked very hard over the years to return home, even though he?s not sure if he is destined to make it home or not.
Odysseus wanted to return so much that, in fact, he was willing to go to Hades, the Underworld, to make it back as soon as he can. No one that wasn?t the son of a god had ever gone to Hades and returned. Odysseus still didn?t know if he is destined to return home or not, but instead of giving up and assuming that he wouldn?t return home, worked to get home. He traveled to Hades to talk to Tiresias, a blind prophet who wasn?t even all that sure if Odysseus would return home. ??And even if you escape yourself/ You will return home late and ill, having lost all your companions? (148) Tiresias, however, is able to tell Odysseus what was happening in Ithaca, and what to do after he returned, assuming that he would return.
?You will find troubles in your house, Presumptuous men who consume your livelihood While wooing your godlike wife and giving her bridal gifts.
?Thereupon take a well-fitted oar and go on Till you arrive at the place of men who do not know The sea? There is the story of the ill-fated Agamemnon, who was killed by his wife Clytemnestra and her lover, Aigisthos. Aigisthos wooed Clytemnestra into having an affair so that he could rule. She was being guarded by a singer, so she resisted for a while, ?but when the fate of the gods bound her to be overcome, / Then Aigisthos brought the singer to a desert island/ And left the man to become a prey and a spoil for birds.? (35) She and her lover, Aigisthos, planned to kill Agamemnon when he returned, and so they stabbed him to death. Agamemnon?s son, Orestes, was in Athens with a friend when this happened, but he heard all about it.
For eight years he toiled over what he should do because it was honorable to kill your father?s murderer, but his mother killed him, and it was dishonorable to kill your mother. Orestes finally decided that it was best to kill his mother and Aigisthos. ?In the eighth year, and evil for him (Aigisthos), godly Orestes/ Came back form Athens and killed his father?s murderer? (36) Agamemnon was destined to be killed by his wife and the man she cheated on him with. Even though it was ten years after Agamemnon had sacrificed his daughter, he wasn?t killed in the war because, by the laws of fate, he had to be killed by his Clytemnestra and Aigisthos. It was also fated that Clytemnestra?s son, Orestes, would kill her.
Fate is seen as an important concept throughout the book, and the concept of destiny was laid heavily in the ancient Greek culture. In The Odyssey, there are some characters that consulted with prophets and knew their fate, but for the most part, people didn?t know what was going to happen to them. Even though it was believed that their lives were already spun out in front of them, they worked to get where they were supposed to get to.