The Odyssey by Homer

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What are some examples of greed in the Odyssey of Homer?  

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Jennings Williamson eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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One prime example of greed in The Odyssey occurs when Odysseus and his men have left the kingdom of Aeolus, the keeper of the winds. He has graciously offered Odysseus assistance in getting back to Ithaca, placing all of the winds in a big sack except the one that would blow the men back to their home. Odysseus stays awake for days, anticipating his return to his family, and making sure that nothing goes wrong. However, he doesn’t tell his men what is in the bag. 

With Ithaca in sight, he finally falls asleep, thinking they are safe. While he sleeps, his crew decides that he has been given a treasure from Aeolus, and they feel entitled to their share of the gold. In their greed, they open the bag, releasing all of the wrong-way winds, and their ship is blown all the way back to Aeolia. Once there, the king decides they must be cursed by the gods, and he refuses to help them again. Their greed plays a role in keeping them all from returning home, as only Odysseus will eventually make it back to Ithaca.

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readerofbooks eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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This is a good question. Let me give you a few examples. 

First, the suitors that want the hand of Penelope are extremely greedy. they want to do little and gain much. In other words, they not only want to hand of Penelope in marriage, but they also want to live off of the riches of Odysseus. 

Second, we also see greed in Polyphemus. He simply want to eat the men of Odysseus. We can say that his appetite is his greed. 

Finally, in some ways we can say that Odysseus is also an example of greed, because he mercilessly kills the suitors. Part of this is due to his desire for revenge, but another part of this is to gain glory for himself. This should not surprise us, as the world of Homer is a world of the desire for glory. 

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