According to the Random House Dictionary, the noun, fate, is defined as “something that unavoidably befalls a person,” and “a prophetic declaration of what must be. ” For years, humans all over the world have been mesmerized by the idea of having their lives’ events predetermined as they immediately enter Earth. Since the dictionary claims fate is what “must be,” all actions to prevent or manipulate otherwise will merely prolong the journey.
In The Odyssey by Homer, the characters live in fear and awe of the gods since it’s believed those on Mount Olympus may deal any hand of fate to the mortals as they please. According to common belief, gods possess total control over the mortal life, which is why they are woshipped so devoutly. In the modern world, this is not the case. Fate is a power than even the gods do not have influence upon.
Although Odysseus and many others depend on immortals to bend fate in their favor, and conceive the gods control all events that occur, their destiny is ultimately inevitable regardless of the gods’ interference or their actions to manipulate fate. Within the first two pages of The Odyssey, readers are introduced to the idea of the gods possessing enough power to control their destinay as Zeus explains to Athena “the way these mortals blame the gods” (1,37) is shameless and hints the gods do not map out each mortal’s life-it is all up to fate, a completely different source of power.
Humans are emotional creatures, thus influencing irrational decisions. The gods may help a human progress something in their favor, such as Athena inspiring Telemachus to “sail in quest of news of [his] long lost father,” claiming he must “not cling to [his] boyhood any longer-it’s time [he was] a man,” (1,341-342) as well as prolonging their desires, such as Calypso, the nymph goddess who holds Odysseus captive on her island.
These decisions to harm or benefit certain mortals of course make an impact on their journeys, yet their fate willl still be waiting for them, remaining constant. The misconception is the fact that the gods do help people come to closer terms with their fate, such as Hermes demanding Calypso to free Odysseus because “it is not his fate to die here, far from his own people. ” (5, 126-127) Hermes’ actions can be misread as changing Odysseus’ fate but truth is, it was his fate all along to return home, and ll Hermes did was simply hand Odysseus the chance to jump start his journey home. It is true that Odysseus received much help and advice from the gods but it is only because it was his destiny, and the gods acknowledge that he must reach his destiny, since fate is what “must be. ” The gods act in such a way purely because fate is their religion. As the mortals look up to the gods, the gods obey fate. It is a silly belief that any higher powers simply sit around and plan every detail of our lives.
Although, they may interfere with mortal lives for the sake of making sure fate is still at work. Accepting one’s fate is a difficult task, especially when the fate they are handed is tragic but the characters of The Odyssey never come to realize that they are living to please the gods and no themselves. By making choices based upon the expectancy of another’s happiness, one will become unhappy with any hand of fate given to them and blame someone else for their misery.
The characters of The Odyssey umltimately meet their destinies, with the help of gods or not, and in contrast, that should be enough for them. They should remain content. The journey to their destinations may not have been mapped out but fate would always remain a fixed constant. Though many characters continue to blame the gods for their misfortunes, like Telemachus, claiming “the gods have invented other miseries to plague [him],” (1,283-284) the ability to take responsibility for one’s own actions is conveyed later on in the saga.
Towards the end of the book, readers start to see that Odysseus has let go of depending upon the gods and acknowledging the fact that “it’s fate that drives [him] on. ” (19,80) As omens, prophecies, and good signs fluster throughout the book, their truth comes into play as characters realize fate has nothing to do with pleasing the gods. They are merely stepping stones towards disaster or prayers answered. So, even though the gods and humans attempt to cheat destiny, fate wins in the end.