The Odyssey: Books II-XI
Trust and Fate
“Ah how shameless – the way these mortals blame the gods. From us alone they say come all their miseries yes but they themselves with their own reckless ways compound their pains beyond their proper share.” ― Homer, [The Odyssey, Book I, Lines 37-40]
Trust plays a major factor in people’s lives and feelings. And in the end, you have to choose whether or not to trust your fate. In the first twelve books of The Odyssey, by Homer, the idea of trust and fate were exhibited throughout the book. Trust was interpreted as more of a damnation than a gift from the gods. It was used to test the characters and trial them and their decide their fate.
Odysseus and his crew were sailing for months, barely surviving countless atrocities and roadblocks on the way. Finally they reached the island of the Sun. Odysseus wanted to avoid the island, however Eurylochus insisted that the crew was too tired and needed rest so Odysseus made the men swear an oath not to eat any cattle because if they did, Helios, the sun god, would punish them as they were his cattle. Odysseus and his crew stayed at the island for a month and eventually ran out of the stored food they had on their ship so they began to starve. One night Eurylochus convinced the men to eat the cattle of the sun and betraying Odysseus’s trust. Odysseus and Zeus felt deeply betrayed and which enraged them.
“Father Zeus! the rest of you blissful gods who never die —you with your fatal sleep, you lulled me into disaster. Left on their own, look what a monstrous thing my crew concocted!’ Quick as a flash with her flaring robes Lampetie sped the news to the Sun on high that we had killed his herds and Helios burst out in rage to all the immortals” [The Odyssey, Book XI, Lines 405-409]
Odysseus was enraged with the actions of his crew mates and even though they received justice in the form of the wrath of Zeus, he may never trust anyone again. His whole journey is recurrent with mutiny and betrayal. The story also exhibits the theme of forgiveness and mercy, especially from Odysseus. Throughout the book, Odysseus forgives and shows kindness to his crew mates when in return only given disrespect and betrayal. The effects of this exchange take a toll on Odysseus and it is shown as Odysseus changes throughout his journey.
After Odysseus had journeyed for eighteen days across the endless sea, he caught sight of a distant island hoping to find asylum. Suddenly Poseidon, god of the sea, sees Odysseus who he has seething rage for. Poseidon sends monstrous waves obstructing his way. Poseidon knows he can’t kill Odysseus because it against the will of Zeus. Odysseus swims to the island for two days in the harshest of storms. He finally collapses on the sand.
“A heavy sea covered him over, then and there unlucky Odysseus would have met his death—against the will of fate—but the bright eyed one inspired him yet again.” [Lines 479-482–The Odyssey book five].
While Odysseus was close to death, the power of the gods and fate saved him and inspired him to survive. This event shows that the gods are always looking over us and influencing our fate and future. The gods threw hardships at Odysseus and helped him out during hard times as well. The gods have a plan for Odysseus even though they can’t see the future.
Even though the gods can’t generally be trusted, you can still decide the mortals who to trust which will predominantly determine your fate. Trust can often be deadly, and as shown in The Odyssey; who you trust can ultimately determine your fate.