Why does Athena favor Odysseus in Book 1 of the Odyssey?

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When Athena appeals to Zeus on behalf of Odysseus, she says:

But my heart breaks for Odysseus, that seasoned veteran cursed by fate so long.

Odysseus has been cursed by being kept a prisoner in Calypso's hands too long, under the spell of her enchantment. Calypso holds him in the proverbial gilded cage of a soft life, but nevertheless Odysseus wishes, after seven years, to return home to Penelope. Athena feels a great deal of sympathy for his desire to see his wife and homeland. She appreciates Odysseus' humane and domestic side: it is his desire to be with his wife and family that moves Athena most deeply.

Athena persuades Zeus to send Hermes with the command to Calypso that she must give up Odysseus. Athena then stands beside Odysseus all the way, always in his corner (sometimes invisibly literally standing in a corner). It can seem odd to us moderns how intimately and personally a goddess can be involved in the life of a human, but the Odyssey shows the Greek belief that the gods were...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 720 words.)

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