Fate In The Iliad: Fate In The Odyssey

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In the Odyssey, the gods and their will represent fate, and as such bring both joy and suffering. Fate in the Iliad -- or rather -- the Fates are more powerful, such that the gods must consider them before interfering in the lives of mortals. In tragedies, fate is presented again as an extension of the gods, but in a much more negative light. However, one thing that remains constant throughout genres is that fate is ultimately inescapable.
In the Odyssey, the Fates as mythological beings are not present, but instead we have them represented through the gods. As such, the gods have much more control over how they interact with mortals; in particular, Odysseus. After Odysseus blinds Poseidon’s son Polyphemus, Poseidon takes it upon himself to
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Poseidon’s hatred for Odysseus is a result of Odysseus foolishly revealing his name to Polyphemus after blinding him. “It was the brave warrior Odysseus, the son of Laertes, who lives in Ithaca, who did this to you.” (Odyssey 9.503). Polyphemus prays to his father and asks him for retribution against Odysseus. Odysseus’ ultimate fate regarding his home is brought upon not by Odysseus personally, but by his crew. Despite warnings from Odysseus, they slaughter Helios’ cattle while Odysseus is away. This action locks in Odysseus’ fate at the end of the play, as well as their own fates: they will all perish on the journey back to Ithaca. One could argue that Odysseus is in part to blame for this as well. If Odysseus had taken better precautions, or if he had not left his crew alone, perhaps they might not have slaughtered the cattle. On a more positive note, Odysseus’ first interaction with Nausicaa solidifies his fate of returning home safely. Odysseus chooses his words carefully in a “gentle and clever speech” (Odyssey 6.145) in order to not offend or scare the young princess, and so succeeds in gaining her …show more content…
Though almost all characters involved with the prophecy try to escape their fate, all are unable to do so. Jocasta and Laius try to abstain from having a child, yet fate brought them together with alcohol, and under its influence conceived baby Oedipus. In another attempt to thwart fate, they decide to “[fasten] his ankles together” and leave him to “die of exposure on the mountain.” (Oedipus 711). Of course, fate had other plans in store. Oedipus also does his best throughout his life to avoid fate by staying as far from Corinth, where he believes he was born, as he can. In doing so, he is led to a triple crossroads where he kills his father, all according to fate’s plan. Throughout the play, Oedipus is convinced that seeking the truth will lead him to the answer he has been searching for the whole time and away from the answer he fears, when in fact the opposite is true. Knowledge of the truth is what leads to his final downfall. “O god! O god! It all becomes clear to me now!” (Oedipus

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