Why is Odysseus made to wander in lands the range of human kind?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The punishment of wandering was delivered in light of Odysseus' actions.  For the Greeks, the soldier's honored return home was a representation of the highest of the blessings bestowed by the Gods.  Mortals entering battle prayed to the Olympians for a safe return home.  Odysseus' murder of Polympheus, and his hubris demonstrated at such an event incurs the wrath of Poseidon.  It is he, along with his brother Zeus, that determines that Odysseus' punishment is that he is made to wander, to be denied his rightful homecoming.  This notion of being in a liminal, or "limbo" stage was seen as the ultimate punishment for a mortal who committed a transgression for which there had to be accountability.  The Greeks understood home as a concept which was the end for all noble soldiers.  The punishment of wandering only reflects the sins of the soldier or the tragic predicament in which the soldier has been placed.

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