In The Odyssey, describe Odysseus' relationship with Athena and Zeus.

Expert Answers
favoritethings eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Odysseus has a fantastic relationship with Athena and Zeus in this text. Very early in the poem, Athena goes to her father, saying that she feels very distressed about Odysseus's situation. Odysseus is trapped on an island in the middle of the sea by the nymph, Calypso, who keeps him prisoner there and will not let him leave. Athena calls him "wise Odysseus, hapless man," and she asks her father, Zeus, why he is "so wrathful" with this great man who has paid him so much honor. Clearly, Athena is a big fan of Odysseus.

Zeus says that he, of course, could not forget Odysseus, "who is beyond all mortal men in wisdom, beyond them too in giving honor to the immortal gods." He elaborates by saying that the reason he has not intervened on Odysseus's behalf thus far is because Poseidon is very angry with Odysseus for having blinded his son Polyphemus. Zeus did not want to make Poseidon even angrier, but he says that all the gods (except Poseidon) will "plan for [Odysseus] turning home.". Athena encourages him to send Hermes to tell Calypso that she must release Odysseus, and he does so. Zeus has praised Odysseus for his wisdom and his piety, so he clearly likes this mortal a lot as well.

missy575 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Odysseus' relationship with these two particular gods could be described specifically as close, devoted, and friendly.

In regard to Athena, as the goddess of war and wisdom, she frequently appears to Odysseus when alone to reveal her will for him, but she talks to him as if they are old buddies. Perhaps this positions Odysseus as a little higher than the rest of the human race for the reading audience as they shape perception of him.

In terms of Zeus, Odysseus prayed to him and cited him as the one who had all power to fix the situation or drop his hand should he find need to discipline Odysseus. Odysseus worked to obey and worship Zeus.

Both gods assist Odysseus and Telemachus in killing the suitors. Without their help, the two men would have surely died. This tale may have a purpose in demonstrating power in relying on the supernatural.