Illustration of Odysseus tied to a ship's mast

The Odyssey

by Homer

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I need help writing a thesis for a Critical Lens essay on Homer's "The Odyssey" with the lens "...men are at the mercy of events and cannot control them."

I'm considering something like "In Homer's "The Odyssey", the character's fates are direct results of their decisions."

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Your current thesis is simply restating the assignment. I think you need to flesh it out, by selecting some specific aspect of the poem on which you will focus. You could look, for example, at divine interventions and try to argue the Odysseus is merely a pawn in a conflict between the gods. You might need to narrow down the topic even more to make it manageable by perhaps focussing on two gods or some specific episode. You could take the other side of the issue, by arguing that despite what the gods do, Odysseus still makes his own decisions about how to respond to them, and use specific episodes to support that claim.

You cannot agree with the quotation from Herodotus that men are at the mercy of fate and then say you support it because characters make their own decisions. Those two statements contradict each other. Your thesis can either agree with Herodotus (in which case people's decisions are irrelevant because they are at the mercy of fate) or disagree (because people have free will they are not at the mercy of fate) -- but not both.

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