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Comparison of Poseidon and Athena in Odysseus

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There is a great difference between the attitudes of Poseidon and Athena toward Odysseus. Being the god of the sea, Poseidon wants to pose a hindrance in Odysseus’s journey to his home because Odysseus blinds the Cyclops Polyphemos who is Poseidon’s son whereas Athena pleads Zeus to set Odysseus free from the grasp of Kalypso due to his shrewdness and craftiness, and helps him reach home. Both Poseidon and Athena play so important roles in the story that most of the events are fundamentally shaped by their actions.

While Poseidon stops Odysseus at the island, Athena travels all the way to his manor in Ithaka and predicts that Odysseus would be home soon. This prediction holds a lot of importance since back in Odysseus’s town, the suitors have intended to marry Penelope who is Odysseus’ wife. Poseidon and Athena differ in their gender. While Poseidon is a god, Athena is a goddess. Poseidon and Athena have very different supernatural attributes. Poseidon happens to be the god of the sea whereas Athena is the goddess of battle and wisdom.

Since she happens to be the most powerful friend of Odysseus, the importance of the role of Athena in Odysseus cannot be overemphasized. Athena makes frequent appearances in the play at different points in time sometimes as Odysseus’s old friend and at other times as some other character to provide Odysseus with the protection of magic, guidance, and useful advice. Athena also grooms Telemakhos who is Odysseus’s son as a prince. Athena is different from the traditional concept of a friend who blindly trusts the friends. Athena keeps checking Odysseus in different ways. For example, when Odysseus is disguised as a beggar, Athena causes the suitors to provoke Odysseus by abusing him to check whether Odysseus would be patient or get into fights with the abusing suitors. Despite having the powers related to battle and wisdom, Athena keeps from intervening until Odysseus has given proof of his mettle. Just like Athena plays the role of the most powerful friend of Odysseus, Poseidon is on the other end of the continuum since he is the most powerful enemy of Odysseus. Poseidon exposes Odysseus to different kinds of challenges and poses different hurdles in his way while Odysseus is making a journey through the sea. For example, “Poseidon raised storms to sink Odysseus’s ship. For 10 years, the storms kept Odysseus from sailing home” (Hoena 13).

Concluding, Odysseus is the main character of the novel, so the characters of his most powerful friend and the enemy are obviously extremely central to the plot of the novel and the themes that it encapsulates. Poseidon is a god whereas Athena is a goddess. Poseidon has control over the seas whereas Athena is a goddess of battle and wisdom. Both characters affect Odysseus in their own respective ways. Despite being polar opposites of each other in character and supernatural attributes, one thing that is similar between Poseidon and Athena is the extreme importance of their roles in the story.

Works Cited:
Hoena, Blake A. Odysseus. Capstone Press, 2004. Print.

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