Illustration of Odysseus tied to a ship's mast

The Odyssey

by Homer

Start Free Trial

How does book 22 of The Odyssey emphasize Odysseus' piety compared to his earlier behavior?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Odysseus, the king of Ithaca, is considered a great hero. Stories abound following his valor on the battlefield as the Greeks fight the Trojans during the Trojan War.  However, as he travels home (and it ends up taking twenty years), he is not always heroic in his behavior.

Odysseus faces many trials, but on at least one occasion, he becomes too full of a sense of his own importance.  He forgets to show humility, and to bow to the will of the gods.

During Odysseus's travels, he lands on the island of the Cyclopses, and he and his men are taken prisoner by one of the island's inhabitants, Polyphemus.  The giant eats some of Odysseus's men and tries to kill the rest of them. Odysseus tricks the Cyclopes, and back on his ship he hollers taunts at Polyphemus, making fun of him, and bragging so that the giant knows that it was the great Odysseus that beat him.  He shows no humility as a hero should, and his behavior angers the gods.

However, when Odysseus returns home to take his wife and house back from the suitors who are trying to take his place, Odysseus shows respect for the gods.  He humbles himself to bow to Zeus's will in his attempt to take back his life.  When he attacks the suitors, he asks Apollo for help, knowing that as great as he is, he must look to the gods to help him.  And Athena does show her favor and helps him defeat his enemies.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial