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Ancient Greek Epic Poem 'The Odyssey': Freedom and Destiny

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Through and through, freedom and destiny are two aspect that are significantly noticeable in the Odyssey. Before we jump right in, one must understand exactly what these two concepts truly mean. For one, freedom, or free will, generally, is having the ability to act or change without constraint. The latter, destiny, sometimes referred to as fate, is a predetermined course of events.

Philosophers and religious figures have been debating the fate versus free will argument for a considerable number of years, more like decades. On one hand, there are the individuals who believe in destiny. Typically, this gathering incorporates many religious people. On the off chance that you believe in a higher power, such as a God, then it is likely that you accept that God is liable for the creation of the universe and the entirety of the happenings within it. Everything that occurs in each individual’s life is God’s will. Additionally, in this category, there are individuals that are not as religious, or not religious at all, therefore, not believing in a God, yet have faith in an ordered universe, karma, and destiny.

On the other hand, there are the individuals who believe in free will. These people believe that each individual is completely liable for everything that occurs in his/her very own life. There is no God and no destiny. Life is irregular and random. A few cynics, agnostics and atheists fall into this classification.

Then, there are those in the middle, the ‘in-betweeners.’ This gathering of people believe that our lives are a mix of destiny and free will. We cannot know for certain whether our lives are administered by destiny or free will, or possibly both. As unenlightened beings, we do not have the abilities to acquire this knowledge. However, we are capable of feeling what guides us. Often, the feeling of what guides us is so strong, it assumes control over our lives. We may feel a God directing us; we may feel destiny directing us; we may feel only free will directing us. Every one of our encounters is extraordinary.

In this ancient Greek epic poem, written by author Homer, free will is portrayed where the characters make certain, possibly even all, decisions. For example, Odysseus blinds the Cyclops, Polyphemus. Destiny, or fate, in the Odyssey, is the repercussions that are handed out because of specific activities. On account of Odysseus and Polyphemus, the repercussion is that when Odysseus is on a ship making a beeline for his arrival in Ithaca, Poseidon, the father of Polyphemus, sends a storm towards Odysseus as a result of being irate that Odysseus blinded his child. In this situation, Odysseus settles on the choice to blind Polyphemus to get away, and so, the outcome is that Poseidon endeavors to hit him with a storm in the ocean. The differentiating, or rather contrasting, themes of free will and destiny serve to speak to the poet’s convictions regarding the matter through emphasis throughout the work of the significance of both.

In the Odyssey, the importance of destiny is that, in the end, it determines what happens to all individuals. Additionally, the Gods represent a huge part of that destiny or fate. Their free will is the element that can control and guide the destiny of regular, everyday mankind. Thus, by practicing their forces and exercising their power, as well as making certain decisions, the Gods determine the decisions that humanity can make. For example, when Zeus chooses to send Hermes to liberate Odysseus of Calypso. Simply, the free will of the Gods acts as a guide for the destiny of man. The Gods have the ability to point man in the right direction and guide man the correct way, however, man would need to choose that path. Circling back to Calypso, Zeus had sent Hermes to tell Calypso that it is expected of her to release Odysseus. Be that as it may, despite the fact that Calypso knew that she needed to release Odysseus, she still gave Odysseus an opportunity to make his own decision. She gave Odysseus the choice to stay, and become immortal; ‘You would stay here, and guard this house, and be immortal’. Odysseus, however, decides that he needs to return home, thus he settles on his own decision to go. Obviously, the Gods presumably realized that Odysseus ached to return to his better half, Penelope, but Odysseus was still the one to settle on the choice. Indeed, even Zeus, being the God of Gods, said that man settled on his own choices, ‘My word how mortals take the gods to task! All their afflictions come from us, we hear. And what of their own failings?’. Zeus’ interpretation of the manner in which man faults everything on the Gods is that it genuinely isn’t the Gods’ failing or shortcoming. It is as if the Gods believe that man should assume liability and accountability for their own doings, and not simply fault everything on the Gods. 

Along these lines, to sum this up, humankind chooses to fault the Gods for all that occurs, yet when given guidance by the Gods to man, for this situation specifically, Aigìsthos doesn’t take it. Odysseus’ destiny is still to return home, however, it isn’t on the grounds that he Gods made his alleged destiny to be thus, it is on the grounds that Odysseus is the loyal hero that settled on this devoted choice.

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Ancient Greek Epic Poem ‘The Odyssey’: Freedom and Destiny. (2022, May 24). GradesFixer. Retrieved February 9, 2023, from
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