Humans and Gods

Legends and myths have been around since the ancient days of Greece.  The stories of the gods continued to influence the Greek people in their way of life up until they started developing into a new “western” way of life. The values and the everyday way of life are seen through The Odyssey.  Through this everyday way of life the gods interjected into the lives of mortals and decided what would happen to them.  Gods have immortality and the power that goes along with it, but they have no concept of moral issues or any of the virtues associated with humans.  Humans are morally superior to the gods.

Odysseus represents the epitome of how a mortal human is supposed to act.  He has had a hard life with not only fighting in the Trojan war for ten years but for the next ten he was shuffled around from one place to another because he had displease Poseidon, the god of earthquakes and the ocean.  With having to suffer through twenty years, Odysseus made it through all of the obstacles in his path through courage, intellect, and cunning.  “And no one could hope to rival Odysseus, not for sheer cunning- at every twist of strategy he excelled us all.”  (Pg 111)  Even in the circumstance of having to present himself to a group of girls naked he excels through everything with poise and pride.  “And out he stalked as a mountain lion exultant in his power strides through wind and rain.”  (Pg 172)  “Surely I cant describe or even list them all, the exploits crowding fearless Odysseus’ record, but what a feat that hero dared and carried off in the land of Troy where you Achaeans suffered!”  (Pg 132)  “ . . . Sang how Odysseus marched right up to Deiphobus’ house like the god of war on attack with diehard Menelaus.”  (Pg 208)

He is regarded as a hero by all who know him, the comrades who fought with him, even the suitors of his wife know the power and strength Odysseus holds, they just delude themselves into believing that he is never to return.  Everyone that had fought in the war or who had ever heard the name Odysseus mention respected him and looked upon him as something more than just a mere mortal.  “No one, no Achaean labored hard as Odysseus labored or achieved so much.”  (Pg 127)  he has to face a multitude of trials and tribulations but comes through it in determination and self-assurance in his actions.  He is so confident in himself as a person he has the audacity to talk back to the gods as he does to Athena.  “Shrewd Odysseus answered her at once . . . “ (Pg 300) He doesn’t want his son to have to share in the same fate he had had to endure for the past ten years; a fate of constantly trying to get home but never being able to make it.  Odysseus even shows how much his honor really means to him by turning down the everlasting power immortality can give you.

Odysseus does not want immortality because if he were immortal everything that he has gone through and all of the honor he has earned for his bravery would be a waste.  There is nothing to being immortal because death defines whom a person is; in being immortal, there are no risks to take or accomplishments to make.  On Calypso’s island Odysseus was held for seven years living the life only gods knew.  He had the finest wine and the finest food; everything a man could desire, Calypso thought. However, Odysseus wanted to go back to his mortal wife.  “ . . . Even vowed to make me immortal, ageless, all my days- but she never won the heart inside me, never.”  (Pg 187)  Even with the sheer overwhelming beauty Calypso had to offer, Odysseus wanted to get back to his family, his own oikas.  That was what a mortal man in his position was suppose to do, it was his responsibility to take care of his oikas instead of just throwing it all away.  “Nevertheless I long-I pine, all my days- to travel home and see the dawn of my return.  And if a god will wreck me yet again on the wine-dark sea, I can bear that too, with a spirit tempered to endure.  Much have I suffered, labored long and hard by now in the waves and wars.  Add this to the total-bring the trial on!”  (Pg 159)

The gods are all powerful and manipulative.  The gods have nothing better to do than mess around with the lives of the mortals.  The gods can never die so they have nothing else to do.  They are sitting on top of mount Olympus with every comfort in the world and anything they need is right there for them.  “ . . . And a great radiance plays across that world where the blithe gods live all their days in bliss.”  (Pg 169-170)  Their own lives are pretty boring compared with the lives of mortals who have so many problems, one of course being death, that they decide to amuse themselves by interfering.  “Father Zeus!  The rest of you blissful gods who never die- you with your fatal sleep, you lulled me into disaster.”  (Pg 282)  If something the mortals do infuriates them they will take it upon themselves to do something about it.  The gods can also be jealous of humans on earth.  “But god himself, jealous of all this, no doubt, robbed that unlucky man, him and him alone, of the day of his return.”  (Pg 130)  Just as Poseidon takes it upon himself to delay Odysseus’s return to Ithaca because Odysseus punctured the Cyclops, Poseidon’s son’s, eye out.  Zeus, the main god of Olympus is the god who makes the general decisions about what to do.  “Zeus is to blame.  He deals to each and every laborer on this earth whatever doom he pleases.”  (Pg 89) or “It’s Olympian Zeus himself who hands out fortunes out, to each of us in turn, to the good and bad, however Zeus prefers.”  (Pg 174)  None of the gods really seem that involved; they do not want to be emotionally attached to mortals because they are eventually going to die.  The gods have a standoffish attitude and only go so far into a relationship.  The gods do not hold all of the privileges, there are many that mortals hold above that of the gods, such as the morality humans hold.

The ability to trick and deceive is something about humans that is greater than the gods and is the noblest condition of humanity.  The perfection with which Odysseus had both these abilities is what won the Trojan War in favor of the Greeks.  “Scarring his own body with mortifying strokes, throwing filthy rags on his back like any slave, he slipped into the enemy’s city, roamed its streets- all disguised, a totally different man, a beggar, hardly the figure he cut among Achaea’s ships.  That’s how Odysseus infiltrated Troy.”  (Pg 132)  With this human condition, Odysseus was able to deceive a whole city of people finally helping to take over the city of Troy.  On Odysseus’s many adventures during the ten years following the Trojan War, he will have to rely on his skill in the art of trickery and deception to get out of many of the situations presented.  Odysseus was also able to use this when trying to escape from the Cyclops cave.  First of all he gives his name as Nobody to the Cyclopes, making the Cyclopes seem stupid as he called out for help saying Nobody poked out his eye.  Then Odysseus also straps his men under some sheep so that they can get out of the cave without being detected.  On another adventure, Odysseus deceives Circe with the help of Hermes.  Hermes gives Odysseus a plant to make him immune to the potion Circe tries to give him to turn him into a pig.  When Odysseus finally reaches Ithaca, he disguises himself as a beggar to infiltrate his own house so he could be a step ahead of the suitors.  This of course led to their downfall because Odysseus had tricked them.

The greatest virtue of humanity is pride and greatness.  This holds true in all aspects for Odysseus.  It is the main reason that he turns down immortality.  He wants to be remembered and be remembered for all of the accomplishments he has made.  He wants to be made immortal through his memory.  Achilles says, “No winning words about death to me, shining Odysseus!  By god, I’d rather slave on earth for another man- some dirt-poor tenant farmer who scrapes to keep alive- than rule down here over all the breathless dead.”  (Pg 265)  Even though dead brings suffering, Achilles explains, you are forever immortal for you actions while you were living.  Odysseus also cannot deny the Cyclopes, whose eye he poked out, his real name as he is sailing away from the island.  This leads to Odysseus’s suffering as Poseidon hears about the incident and keeps Odysseus from returning home.  The challenge from the Phaecians when he is asked to compete with them; Odysseus cannot resist being able to outdo them in the competition.

The mortal race of humans far out due the immortal gods in moral value.  They take pride in their status and accomplishments while the gods just have it.

 

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~ by wolfangel87 on February 1, 2011.

2 Responses to “Humans and Gods”

  1. I precisely wished to thank you very much yet again. I do not know what I would’ve made to happen without the actual secrets revealed by you over such a area of interest. It was actually a difficult difficulty in my circumstances, nevertheless viewing a specialized approach you treated it forced me to leap over fulfillment. I am just happy for this assistance and even pray you find out what a great job you’re providing teaching the others by way of your webpage. Most probably you have never got to know any of us.

  2. I am a mystic and I communicate with the Greek gods every day. I am learning that there is very little in mythology and stories that is actually factual. Did you know that there was a curse levied against them in 700 A.D. that damaged their immortality? Did you know that Apollo was never married? And never had any children? If mortals had such a supreme base in morality, who gave Pithia the right to take Apollo’s sight? Was that kind?
    Adonis is dark-skinned and not Italian-looking as so many artists would have us believe. Although Ares is a war god, he has a heart. Yes, Zeus declared him hateful, but Ares did change after meeting Jesus and so he does not deserve the bad reputation.
    It’s not hard to see the truth when one says no to stories and looks to the heart instead. Anyone can do it. You don’t have to be a mystic. What’s sad is that humans are so righteous, when really if more of them had looked inward they would have found courage and strength that matched the gods and quite possibly could have lived harmoniously with them.

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