What are some examples of betrayal in The Odyssey and how can betrayal be linked to power?

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Odysseus betrays Penelope through his sexual affairs with Calypso and Circe. Calypso, a goddess, keeps Odysseus with her on her island for seven years, until Zeus demands that she release him. She complains that a double standard means that gods are outraged "when goddesses sleep with mortals" but not when...

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Odysseus betrays Penelope through his sexual affairs with Calypso and Circe. Calypso, a goddess, keeps Odysseus with her on her island for seven years, until Zeus demands that she release him. She complains that a double standard means that gods are outraged "when goddesses sleep with mortals" but not when gods do exactly the same thing.

Odysseus is captivated by the lovely Circe and stays with her for a year, having another sexual affair. This diversion also holds up his return to Penelope, which creates added hardship for her. She is trying to hold her suitors at bay, and the longer Odysseus is gone, the more stress this causes for her.

We see the power differential in sexual matters between husbands and wives mirroring that between gods and goddesses. Odysseus can get away with having affairs and still be seen as "faithful" to his wife, to whom he wants—eventually—to return to, but Penelope couldn't dream of having an affair to pass the time while awaiting his return. She is held to a far higher standard of purity and steadfastness.

Odysseus also betrays his men when, after saving them (and himself) from Polyphemus, the cyclops, he then can't resist revealing that it was he who bested him. This bit of bragging clues Neptune in to who injured his son and brings the wrath of the sea down on them all. Odysseus's sense of power and entitlement, which leads him to believe he should be recognized for his accomplishments, endangers others.

Odysseus consistently behaves as a powerful male who is allowed to live by a different set of standards, even if it hurts the people he is responsible for.

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The epic poem The Odyssey by Homer tells of the efforts of Odysseus, king of Ithaca, to return to his homeland after the battle for Troy has ended. It depicts numerous instances of betrayal and its link with power. Here are some examples.

Although Athena aids Odysseus in his wanderings, she becomes angered by the unpunished deed of a Greek warrior attempting to rape Cassandra, the daughter of a king of Troy, in her temple. As a result of this betrayal, she sends a storm that takes Odysseus and his men far off course when they are on their way home to Ithaca. We can actually see this as a double betrayal. The Greeks betray Athena by their disrespect, and Athena betrays the Greeks by temporarily turning on them. The power in this case is all with the goddess Athena. She soon relents and continues to assist Odysseus on his quest to get home.

At Odysseus's homeland of Ithaca, the suitors betray Odysseus and his family by forcing themselves upon Penelope, ridiculing Telemachus (the son of Odysseus and Penelope), and taking advantage of Penelope's hospitality. At first, the suitors sustain their betrayal by the power of brute force. Later, Odysseus avenges this betrayal through a demonstration of his greater power as a warrior.

On the island of Aeaea, the goddess Circe betrays Odysseus and his men through the power of magic. With the promise of a great feast, she lures them into her palace and then betrays them by turning Odysseus's crew into swine. Odysseus alone does not have the power to break this spell. He needs the greater power of Athena, who sends Hermes to explain to Odysseus how he can safely overcome the magic of Circe.

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This is a great question. Two acts of betrayal come to mind. First, the most obvious example is the actions of the suitors. Just because Odysseus does not come back, these suitors try to gain the affection of Penelope. Moreover, they take advantage of Odysseus's goods. This is even worse, because Odysseus is the ruler of Ithaca. In other words, he is their king. So, this lack of loyalty is betrayal.

Second, we see another act of betrayal when the men of Odysseus open a bag of winds, which Aelous gave to Odysseus. They open this bag, because of their greed. They believed that the bag was filled with gold and silver and they wanted it. So they opened up the bag only to allow winds to gush forth and throw the ships completely off track. In light of this, we can say that his men did not trust him. So, one can argue that this act is tantamount to an act of betrayal.

 

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