In the book the Odyssey, who or what is the great leveler in book III?

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thetall eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Athena mentioned the great leveler while talking to Telemachus. The goddess was trying to convince him that the gods had the ability to protect his father on his homeward journey. However, she noted that the gods had no capacity to keep death away, even from an individual they liked. In this regard, the term great leveler refers to death. According to Athena, their ability to interfere is restricted because death works with destiny and by interfering with death’s work, one also interferes with destiny.

But even the gods cannot ward off death,

The great leveler, from a man they love,

Not when destiny comes to lay him low,

The conversation between Telemachus and Athena took place when he was directed to see Nestor in order to get word of his father. Nestor divulged some of the details that pertained to the war and even the deaths of some of his comrades, including Agamemnon, who was killed by his wife’s suitor, Aegisthus.