Ancient Greece Gods In Odyssey

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“Is it better to be feared or loved?” The Italian historian Niccolò Machiavelli believes that while both are important for a leader, fear is more likely to lead to a successful rule. The gods of Ancient Greece emphasize the importance of religion and tell stories of severe consequences if they are not pleased. Books 10, 13, and 17 of the Odyssey, by Homer, demonstrate how the ancient Greeks’ respect for the gods stems mostly from fear of the consequences, explaining multiple characters’ decisions to protect themselves by respecting the gods to avoid consequences.

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The reference of the punishment which results from helping the enemy of a god in book 10 shows the Greeks’ fear of the gods.

In Book 10, Odysseus seeks help from the wind god Aeolus, in order to return home after the long war. Aeolus follows the expectations of hospitality, welcomes guests and provides a way for all the crew to go home, as Aeolus “set the west wind free to blow us on our way… home” (The Odyssey 10.29-30). Disrespecting xenia can result in punishments as Zeus, the king of the gods, is the god of hospitality. When Odysseus makes a mistake and ends up back on Aeolus’s island, Aeolus angrily yells: “Away from my island- fast- most cursed man alive! It’s a crime to host a man or speed him on his way when the blessed deathless gods despise him so. Crawling back like this- it proves the immortals hate you! Out- get out!” (The Odyssey 10.79-83).

By returning to the island, Odysseus unintentionally portrays himself as a curse from the gods, which is why Aeolus is displeased to see him again. If Odysseus is a god’s enemy,

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