Friday, May 13, 2011
What Did I Do to Deserve This?
In Book 13 Poseidon demonstrates the "down side " of divine disfavor: he destroys the Phaecian ship that returned Odyssey to his home and blockaded their harbor. On the other hand, Athena shows the benefits of divine approval: she alerts Odysseus to the suitors in his palace and helps him plan his revenge (including an impeccable disguise). Do these people deserve their fates? Are the gods acting as defenders of justice and the moral order (much as Rama defends dharma in the Ramayana)? Or are the gods acting purely to satisfy their personal agendas? Do the Phaecians or Odysseus have an choice or control in gaining disapproval or favor from the gods -- or is it completely arbitrary? Why does Athena help Odysseus but turn a blind eye to the troubles that result when Agamemnon returns?