When Odysseus Returns Home: an Analysis

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About this sample


Words: 621 |

Page: 1|

4 min read

Published: Jun 13, 2024

Words: 621|Page: 1|4 min read

Published: Jun 13, 2024

Table of contents

  1. The Role of the Gods
  2. The Consequences of Past Actions
  3. The Challenges Faced by Odysseus
  4. Conclusion

Throughout Homer's epic poem, The Odyssey, the return home of the hero Odysseus is a central theme. However, the question of why Odysseus cannot return home becomes a recurring motif in the text. This essay will delve into the various reasons that prevent Odysseus from returning home, exploring the implications of these obstacles on his journey. By examining the role of the gods, the consequences of his past actions, and the challenges he faces, it becomes clear why Odysseus struggles to reach his homeland.

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The Role of the Gods

One of the key reasons why Odysseus cannot return home is the interference of the gods. In ancient Greek mythology, the gods played a significant role in determining the fate of mortals. In the case of Odysseus, his inability to return home is largely due to the wrath of Poseidon, the god of the sea. Poseidon holds a grudge against Odysseus for blinding his son, the Cyclops Polyphemus. The wrath of Poseidon is evident throughout the text, as he actively works against Odysseus, causing storms and shipwrecks.

Furthermore, the gods' involvement is not limited to Poseidon. Athena, the goddess of wisdom, aids Odysseus throughout his journey, but even she cannot fully protect him from the wrath of the other gods. The gods' constant intervention serves to highlight the power they hold over mortal lives and their ability to manipulate events to their advantage. This divine interference creates a sense of tension and suspense, as Odysseus must navigate the whims of the gods in his quest to return home.

The Consequences of Past Actions

Another reason why Odysseus cannot return home is the consequences of his past actions. Prior to his departure for the Trojan War, Odysseus blinded Polyphemus, an act that incurs the wrath of Poseidon. This act of hubris and disrespect towards the gods has far-reaching consequences, as Odysseus must face numerous trials and tribulations as a result. It is through these trials that Odysseus learns the importance of humility and the consequences of his actions.

Furthermore, Odysseus' actions during his journey back from Troy contribute to his prolonged absence from home. His encounter with Circe, the witch-goddess who turns his men into pigs, illustrates the consequences of succumbing to temptation and indulging in excessive pleasure. Odysseus' prolonged stay on Circe's island delays his return home, highlighting the importance of self-control and the dangers of giving in to temptation.

The Challenges Faced by Odysseus

In addition to the interference of the gods and the consequences of his past actions, Odysseus also faces numerous challenges that prevent him from returning home. From facing the Sirens and Scylla and Charybdis to navigating the treacherous journey through the underworld, Odysseus encounters various obstacles that test his courage, wit, and resilience. These challenges serve to highlight the hero's journey archetype, where the protagonist must overcome significant hurdles to achieve their goal.

Moreover, the challenges Odysseus faces also serve as a metaphor for the internal struggles he must confront. The journey back home becomes not only a physical one but also a psychological and emotional one. Odysseus must confront his own weaknesses and fears, ultimately transforming into a wiser and more humble individual.


In conclusion, the reasons why Odysseus cannot return home in The Odyssey are multifaceted. The interference of the gods, the consequences of his past actions, and the challenges he faces all contribute to his prolonged absence from his homeland. The gods' involvement highlights their power over mortal lives, while the consequences of Odysseus' actions emphasize the importance of humility and self-control. The challenges he encounters on his journey further test his character and contribute to his personal growth. Overall, Odysseus' inability to return home serves to highlight the complexities of the hero's journey and the transformative power of adversity.

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Works Cited:

  • Homer. The Odyssey.
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This essay was reviewed by
Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

Cite this Essay

When Odysseus Returns Home: An Analysis. (2024, Jun 13). GradesFixer. Retrieved July 23, 2024, from
“When Odysseus Returns Home: An Analysis.” GradesFixer, 13 Jun. 2024,
When Odysseus Returns Home: An Analysis. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 23 Jul. 2024].
When Odysseus Returns Home: An Analysis [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2024 Jun 13 [cited 2024 Jul 23]. Available from:
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