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The Great Significance of Willpower and Destiny in The Odyssey and Aeneid

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In both Homer’s Odyssey and Virgil’s Aeneid, destiny and free will are both significant. Destiny is unchangeable, it may seem like a coincidence, but it is something no person controls for oneself, but within the destiny, you do have a choice. Free will is defined whenever characters make decisions, or when you can do something as long as you have the resources, skills, and abilities to do so. Each destiny and free will have some connections between each other, also can be affected by each other.

In Odyssey, the prominent evidence on destiny and free will is when Polyphemus curses Ulyssey in the book when they are fleeting away. ​“Hear me, Poseidon who circle the earth, dark-haired. If truly I am your son, and you acknowledge yourself as my father, grant that Odysseus, sacker of cities, son of Laertes, who makes his home in Ithaca, may never reach that home; but if it is decided that he shall see his own people, and come home to his strong-founded house and to his own country, let him come late, in bad case, with the loss of all his companions, in someone else’s ship, and find troubles in his household.” ‘So ​he spoke in prayer, and the dark-haired god heard him.’ Polyphemus entreats his father Poseidon as well as destinytohis assistance in cursing Odysseus. This proves that destiny and free will matters to each other. It is Odysseus’s choice to blind the Cyclops and to reveal his name to him, therefore it is his destiny to suffer at sea by Poseidon, his arrogant and pride determined the following course of events. But in this destiny, he has his free will to decide how and what to do to overcome the difficulties during the journey back to his home.

For instant, he spends a year with Circe, enjoying the luxurious life and having fun with the rest. On the hand, it is a waste of time, he could have gone home a year early, maybe he wouldn’t need to face the coming up problems; On the other hand, the time of spending on the island peacefully, he is relaxed and immersed in the joy of happiness, but also he loses a men of his, Elpeno, who gets drunk and falls of the roof by accident​. Ulysses is allowed to decide how long he is staying and when he wants to leave, he is even allowed to do anything he wants to do but under the circumstances of capability, whatever decision Ulysses makes will not change the fact that he gets home, but will affect the process.

As for Aeneid, the protector of Carthage, Juno, keeps reminding us that ​destiny may determine that the Trojans will found a city in Italy, but it doesn’t stipulate how they end up doing it. ​She knows deeply that one day Aeneas will be defeating Carthage and conquering Rome, and she also knows there is no way to rewrite destiny, even it’s someone else’s. If it is fated that something will happen, there still is some space over how it will happen. Juno decides to make the most of that, and interfere with the Trojans’ life until they can finally found their city. ​’Give up what I began? Am I defeated? Am I impotent to keep the king of Teucrians from Italy? The Fates forbid me, am I to suppose?’. A​s Juno said in episode one​when she sees Aenea sand his men happily sailing toward Italy. To me, I believe Juno see destiny and free will as two concepts, they aren’t completely opposite, and so that is why she tries her best to interrupt the journey but she is certain that they will eventually arrive home as the destiny is doomed.

Another example of Aeneid is Dido, she is destined to fall in love with Aeneas. Dido doesn’t have the chance of refusing to be in love with Aeneas, what she can do is trying to keep him company or avoiding him from leaving her. In the end, she chooses to die with flame, but it is always her destiny to end her life with the sorrow of heart-broken. Perhaps, if she didn’t encounter Aeneas, she will still die with mourning for her husband’s death or the destruction of her land. The story can be rewrite, but the ending, the destiny, that is death, and no one can change or avoid it.

In conclusion​, when destiny is inevitable and free will is unpredictable, you can’t change your destination, but you can adjust your feels when facing it, like how Ulysses and his men try their best to overcome every challenge, or like Aeneas stays calm when he has to leave Dido and obligates his duty. Many reasons that create different paths to the end of the journey, but it is the end that awaits and doesn’t change.

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The Great Significance of Willpower and Destiny in the Odyssey and Aeneid. (2022, May 24). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 29, 2022, from
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