What is Odysseus' fate in "The Odyssey"?


Quick Answer

Odysseus' fate revolves around the journey he takes home from Troy to Ithaca. The king takes 10 years to return, reclaims his wife from the many suitors trying to win her over and makes yet another journey to make amends with Poseidon. In all, Odysseus was away from his home for 20 years, and he was imprisoned with Calypso for seven of those years.

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Full Answer

Fate is a complicated concept in "The Odyssey" as the protagonist endures the slaughter of his own men, becomes a pawn in a fight between the gods Zeus and Poseidon and is trapped by Calypso. In many situations, the gods order the spirits to capture or release Odysseus. Zeus, Poseidon, Athena, Hades and Circe all have a major role in Odysseus' fate. The question becomes whether the life of the hero is up to the gods or whether he has free will to make his own choices.

The blind prophet Tiresias also foretells Odysseus' fate several times throughout the stories he tells. He implores the hero to not slaughter the cattle of Circe, but his men disobey out of hunger and change Odysseus's fate. Even though Athena pledges to protect Odysseus, he still gets pushed and pulled by the gods before finally making it home to win back his wife.

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