The gods were integral part of ancient Greece. Sacrifices were made, shrines were burned, and people revered, as they believed that, should they remain devout, their gods would help them in times of stress. While it has yet to proven whether or not the gods did aid the Ancient Grecians, it’s evident in Robert Fitzgerald’s translation of Homer’s The Odyssey, where the part of the central conflict and most of the resolution relies on the gods’ will.
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Their willingness to help is often indicative of a person’s character and throughout the book, many gods and goddess come the aid of Odysseus. Therefore, the arete of Odysseus is established through the attention the gods warrant him, whether in the form of gifts or advice, their favor is made evident and Odysseus’ arete, clear.
Odysseus’ virtue is almost immediately established. When we start off in Book I, with Athena recounting Odysseus achievements during the Trojan War and asking why Zeus has neglected him. Zeus replies to Athena, reminding her – and informing the reader – that there is no mortal half so wise; no mortal / gave so much to the lords of the open sky (1. 88-89). The gods immediately distinguish Odysseus from other mortals, who Zeus complains about earlier in the book, saying that greed and folly / double the suffering in the lot of man (1. 50-51). Kleos is often furthered through storytelling and an indicator of one’s arete. In this scene, Odysseus’ kleos is identified by the gods, so that before we are introduced to Odysseus in Book 5, his reputation is made and his character is defined (to be continued).
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