How are Zeus and Odysseus similar?  How are they different? 

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favoritethings eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In terms of similarities, both Zeus and Odysseus are incredibly powerful within their respective communities.  They both have extramarital affairs (Odysseus, in The Odyssey, with Circe and Calypso; Zeus with any woman he finds desirable).  They both expect the loyalty and fidelity of their wives and they both have sons (Odysseus, Telemachus; Zeus, among others, Apollo, Hermes, Dionysus, Ares).  

In terms of their differences, Odysseus tries to please his wife; Zeus really doesn't.  Although they both have affairs, Odysseus probably doesn't have a whole lot of choice because he could offend a goddess if he rejected her.  Zeus, on the other hand, really doesn't seem to feel much loyalty toward Hera.  He has hundreds and hundreds of affairs, and he often tries to hide them from her so that she does not exact revenge on his mistresses or the demigods created by their unions.  Also, Zeus had heard a prophecy that a son of his would one day overthrow him as Zeus did his father, Kronos.  Therefore, Zeus is a bit wary of his male children, while Odysseus loves and adores Telemachus and tries to protect him when he returns to Ithaca.

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The Odyssey

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