The Odyssey Questions and Answers
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What are some examples of betrayal in The Odyssey and how can betrayal be linked to power? I am exploring the themes of power and betrayal and how the two are related in The Odyssey.

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D. Reynolds eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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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...

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alex-carter | Student

You want examples of Betrayal?  Look at Aggamemnon's wife, Clytemnestra, who not only took a lover while Aggamemnon was away, but plotted with him to kill Aggamemnon when he came back.

Another example of betrayal would be not the suitors, but the 12 (depending on the version you have) serving women who sleep with the suitors.  At least one of these women openly betrayed penelope by revealing her looming trick.  They fact that they treat the suitors well is a betrayal of Telemachus (The suitors are eating away his inheritance and plotting to kill him).  Thes actions are likewise a betrayal of Odysseus as they are dishonoring odyssues, etc.  Also, Melanthius, another of Odyssues' servants actually arms the Suitor against Odysseus, when oddysseus goes postal on everyone.