Explain the roles of the gods in The Odyssey.
The gods are important in The Odyssey, but not as central to the story as they are in the Iliad and other Greek myths. The two most active deities are Athena, who protects Odysseus, and Poseidon, who vents his wrath on Odysseus and his men, particularly after he blinds the sea god's son Polyphemus. In general, however, Odysseus is able to survive and return home due to his own guile, craft, and bravery. Odysseus receives assistance from Athena and, indirectly, Zeus, but he is a man of free will. The gods, however, are very interested in the goings-on among the mortals, just as they are in other mythological tales. They are as petty, jealous, and spiteful as in any other story as well.