The Idea of Destiny in Homer's Odyssey: Fate, God, Daimôn and Human Immortality
You may revise, narrow, expand, or combine any of these questions. You may also devise your own topic, so long as it addresses at least one of the texts:
Gilgamesh, Trans. David Ferry;
Genesis (from Holy Bible, KJV, Zondervan);
Gospel According to Mark (Bible);
Homer, The Odyssey;
Virgil, Aeneid, (Bantam Books, 1971);
Dante Alighieri, Inferno (New American Library 2009);
Shakespeare, The merchant of Venice (Signet, 1965);
Discuss the idea of destiny or fate and the various ways destiny is portrayed or explained in one of the works we have read. USE QUOTES FROM THE TEXT TO SUPPORT YOUR ARGUMENT.
Destiny may be identified with a divine power of some sort, such as God, the gods or Fate. Or it may be understood as with some motivating force within human beings. It may be equated with the human condition--with certain common denominators that we all share.
Examine the theme of justice--or its apparent absence. Justice is often seen as a balancing act, but is there an alternative way of looking at justice? Is destiny always just?
The Idea of Destiny in Homer’s Odyssey: Fate, God, Daimôn and Human Immortality
The poetic design to interpret socio-religious beliefs transmitted through human endeavor shapes the representation of αἶσα (Destiny) in Greek archaic literature. This essay elaborates on the notion of destiny in the Homeric epic Odyssey in which the idea is often expressed through the themes of fate, relationship between Gods and men, journey, death, justice and the ‘inevitableness’ of consequences. While in Iliad, Homer creates nobleness of his characters through the construct of an epical ‘moira’ (Fate) — in Odyssey, he posits destiny with a design of celestial, cosmic or divine purpose; and with this poetic intention, Zeus, once the source of ‘moira’, turns into a passive divine guardian, a never-ending agent who administers destiny.
“Of these things, Speak, Immortal One,
And tell the tale once more in our time.” CITATION Sta07 \p 1 \l 1033 (Lombardo 1)
The Odyssey opens with these lines invoking divine help to retell/recreate the story of Odysseus. Homer represents his bard as ‘moved by the god’ CITATION Sta07 \p 59 \l 1033 (Lombardo 59) and ‘divine’ CITATION Sta07 \p "60, 148, 240" \n \l 1033 (60, 148, 240) to whom god has bestowed on his inspiration. Thus, the dawn of Greek poetic tradition starting in hands of Homer presents its poetic vision as inspired by the divine. For this purpose, the poet casts Muses who as a godly power possess the omniscient memory and their presence in the text confirm the authenticity of retold stories of historical events and heroes. But, Homer, the master of poetic craft, creates an uncertainty between the divine origin of his stories and its merely resembling the actual events of god. In Book-22, Phemius, the Homeric bard of Ithaca, refers to the human (self-taught) and divine attribution of his ability to sing:
“By your knees, Odysseus, respect me
And pity me. You will regret it someday
If you kill a bard — me — who sings for gods and men.
I am self-taught, and a god has planted in my heart
All sorts of songs and stories, and I can sing to you
As to a god.” CITATION Sta07 \p 209 \l 1033 (Lombardo 209)
These lines of Phemius can sum up the process of how stories were formulated to be retold — and it announces a new orientation to individuality of the poet, the relative autonomy of the poet as a point of liberation from the total dependence on divine inspiration. The Odyssey revolves its narrative on this theme where human versus divine ‘can’ occur simultaneously creating different degrees of the same thing.
Evidently enough, an orally transmitted composition sets the context for Homeric heroes and their fates. Homeric epics employ certain words, their derivatives and phrases to de...
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