How is Odysseus's (from the Odyssey) temptation similar to Abraham's temptation?

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samson98 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Interestingly, there is a striking resemblance between Odysseus' temptation in the Odyssey and Abraham's temptation in Genesis 16. In the aforementioned passage, Abraham's wife Sarah tried to convince him to have sexual relations with her servant, Hagar, so that she would bear him an heir. God had promised Abraham he would have an heir by Sarah, but he gave into Sarah's temptation and attempted to hasten the fulfillment of the promise by artificial means.

In the Odyssey, Odysseus languishes seven years as a prisoner of the goddess Calypso. Eventually, Zeus sends Hermes to force Calypso to set Odysseus free so he can return home to Ithaca. Nevertheless, Calypso attempts to get Odysseus to forsake his wife (Penelope) and son (Telemachus), as well as his chance to receive glory for his deeds during the Trojan War (the closest a human could come to immortality) to marry her, conceive children with her, and receive immortality from her. Unlike Abraham, Odysseus did not consent.

Both men were tempted to circumvent a divine promise or opportunity to bring about a counterfeit fulfillment by artificial means. Abraham gave in to the temptation; Odysseus did not.