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Gods in Homer’s “Odyssey”


Analyzing Homer’s works, an interesting concept can be examined through the role of gods in his Odyssey and Iliad. This concept can be related to the sense of contradiction in the representation of gods, where on the one hand gods can be seen from the perspective of a believer- people are afraid of gods, implicitly submit to their will, set up altars and temples for them, and constantly feel God’s active involvement in their lives. On the other hand, gods often commit actions, which can invoke a laugh in people, condemnation, and even distrust. Nevertheless, I can be seen that the role of gods cannot be underestimated, and their presence can be seen as an essential part of people’s lives.

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The first evidence of the significance of the role of gods can be seen in the way they control every aspect of human’s lives. In addition to the way gods are different in their tasks and areas of responsibility, where each God is taking an area to control specific forces influencing people, there are common tasks through which they are involved in the life of the mortals. The degree of involvement can be seen through the angry dialogue between Zeus and Hera over helping mortals, i.e. Achilles, where Hephaestus is advising not to argue over mortals

This is terrible; it’ going to ruin us all.
If you two quarrel like this over mortals (Iliad, book 1, line 606-607)

Thus, it can be understood that being involved in the lives of people is an aspect the gods, usually do. Accordingly, the involvement and the help of gods can be seen in Homer’s Odyssey, one example of which can be seen when Athena aided Odyssey to throw the disk farther than anyone else (Homer and Lombardo 294).

Another indicative sign of the importance of gods is based on the knowledge of mortals of gods’ influence, as a result of which they constantly refer to them and please them. In the Iliad the example of such reference can be seen in the Greeks propitiating Apollo with dancing and singing to please him (Iliad, book 1, line 501); in Odyssey, such example is seen through praying to gods, when Odyssey’s men suffered from hunger, so he prayed to the gods to show him the way (Odyssey, book 12, line 342). The importance of gods can be accessed through the perception of the characters of the authority and the power of gods, where asking them for help and pleasing them can be considered as a sign of submission.

Nevertheless, it can be seen that the depiction of Homer’s gods can be characterized by the closeness to the mortals, in terms of having similar traits of behavior. In that regard, it can be assumed that Homer representation of gods in such manner might have been utilized to serve a particular purpose in presenting a more colorful world, in which the gods and the mortals are integrated into one system. Thus, gods can be seen as a reflection of mortals if they were given power, through the fulfillment of their needs for their own pleasure. This can be seen through the example, where Zeus promises to strike Odysseus’ ship with specific enforcement in action, which can be only intrinsic to earthly matters, rather than for divine intentions; “I will soon strike their ship with sterling lightning/ and shatter it to bits on the wine-purple sea” (Iliad, book 12, line 398-399).


It can be concluded that gods are important in Homer’s works, although their depiction can be slightly different from the conventional depiction of the divine forces. Nevertheless, it can be seen that although gods are given several human-like traits, the type of relation between gods and mortals include common elements such as praying, helping, as well as uncommon such as involvement in mortal affairs.

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Works Cited

Homer, and Stanley Lombardo. The Essential Homer : Selections from the Iliad and the Odyssey. Hackett, 2000.

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StudyCorgi. (2021, October 27). Gods in Homer’s “Odyssey”.

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"Gods in Homer’s “Odyssey”." StudyCorgi, 27 Oct. 2021,

1. StudyCorgi. "Gods in Homer’s “Odyssey”." October 27, 2021.


StudyCorgi. "Gods in Homer’s “Odyssey”." October 27, 2021.


StudyCorgi. 2021. "Gods in Homer’s “Odyssey”." October 27, 2021.


StudyCorgi. (2021) 'Gods in Homer’s “Odyssey”'. 27 October.

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