Why Does Athena Help Odysseus

In Book One of The Odyssey, why did the goddess Athena want Zeus to send Hermes to Calypso?

Expert Answers
pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

First, you have to remember that Odysseus is a guy who Athena really likes.  Throughout this whole epic, she will keep helping him out in various ways.  This is the first place where she does this.

What is going on is that Poseidon is really angry at Odysseus.  Because of that, Odysseus has been on Calypso's island, more or less imprisoned there, for 10 years.  Athena knows that Odysseus wants to get back home to Penelope and she wants to help him.  So she gets Zeus to have Hermes go and tell Calypso to let Odysseus go.

So the short answer is that Athena wants Zeus to do this so that Calypso will release Odysseus.

julie_feng | Student

Athena, the goddess of war and wisdom, Odysseus's guardian and protector in many ways. They are both extremely clever figures, which bonds them. Gods often have "favorite" mortals and meddle in their lives. Athena really admires Odysseus's qualities, so she makes him into one of her "favorites." In a way, she is his patron goddess. (It also helps that Athena and Poseidon, who hates Odysseus, have a bit of a rivalry.) 

Odysseus has been imprisoned on Calypso's island, Ogygia, for about seven years. Calypso is a nymph who has fallen in love with Odysseus and wants to make him her immortal husband. As time passes, Odysseus grows more and more depressed as his desire to go home to his true love (his wife Penelope) increases. Athena want to help him get home, so she goes to her father Zeus and asks for his help. Zeus sends the messenger god Hermes to Calypso. He tells her to let Odysseus go. Calypso is angry, but eventually concedes and helps Odysseus leave the island.