Last updated: September 21, 2019
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When one ponders the Grecian mythology and literature, powerful images constantly come to mind. One relives the heroes battles against countless odds, their conflicts against charming monsters, and the Gods periodic intercession in mortal personal businesss. Yet, a common and frequently indispensable part of a heroic heroic poem is the hero s audience with an prophet or deity. This prognostication is normally critical to the secret plan line, and besides to the well being of the chief characters. Could Priam have survived in the Achaean cantonment if non at the Gods direction ( 200-201 ) ? Could the Argos have run the gantlet of the Prowling Rocks if non for the Gods advice of utilizing a sacrificial bird ( 349 ) .

Furthermore, prognostication can be negative every bit good as positive. Achilles was prophesied to decease gloriously in conflict if he chose his life s manner as a warrior. Oedipus was exiled and condemned by his ain words, after he slew his sire and wed his female parent. This type of prophesy can blind even the Gods themselves ; Chronos was fated to be defeated and his throne stolen by his boy. Demeter loses Persephone sporadically every twelvemonth because her girl Ate Hades pomegranates. Prophecy plays an of import function in the whole of Greek folklore. Something this ever-present bears farther scrutiny.

In The Odyssey, prognostication in its myriad signifiers affects about every facet of the heroic poem. Prophecies are seen in the signifiers of portents, marks, rigorous anticipation of the hereafter, godly disapprobation, and godly direction. Though conceptually these signifiers are difficult to separate, they are clearly separate in the Odyssey. Furthermore, prognostications can be interpreted non merely on the & # 8220 ; secret plan device & # 8221 ; degree, but besides on the degree of word picture. Whether a character accepts or denies the Gods prognostications tells the reader something about the character himself.

Omens are brief prognostications closely connected to the action at manus, which must be interpreted in footings of that action. Halitherses remarks on the bird of Jove onslaught after Telemakhos condemns the suers ( 463-464 ) ; he right involvements it to intend that if the suers keep feeding off Odysseus s ownerships they will be destroyed. Yet the suers ignore the portents, ask foring their eventual devastation. This disdainful intervention of a godly portent is a justification for their deceases. When Penelope says if Odysseus had returned he would, with his boy, certainly slay the suers, Telemakhos let free a great sneezing ( 429 ) . This omen reinforces the old one, and at the same time prepares the reader for the slaughter to follow. However, non all portents are effectual. In the instance of Telemakhos we see many bird portents signaling for him to make something about the suers. Whether it was his immatureness to construe the bird omens or blind haughtiness Telemakhos does non move on them. In fact, it s non until Athena comes to him that he thinks to take action against the suers in his house.

Signs are similar to portents, but differ in one important facet ; the prophesee is looking for a specific portents in order to make up one’s mind whether he should or should non take some action. There is merely one good illustration of a mark in the Odyssey ; on page 460, Odysseus asks Zeus for two Godhead marks to make up one’s mind if it is clip to murder the suers. Zeus replies with a thunderclap from a cloudless sky and allows Odysseus to catch a amah s supplication for retribution. Because of these marks, Odysseus begins his program to murder the suers. Subsequently on, with a thunderclap Zeus really signals for the precise clip to strike. Signs are helpful devices ; they allow non merely a rationalisation for when an event occurs but besides shows the blessing of the Gods on such an action.

Not merely are marks and portents plentiful in the Odyssey, but besides the type one normally associates with prophesying, rigorous anticipation of the hereafter, abounds every bit good. Penelope provinces that she will get married the adult male who can thread Odysseus s bow and execute his celebrated effort ( 469 ) . Since Odysseus is the merely 1 to make so, the prognostication is fulfilled. This & # 8220 ; prophesy & # 8221 ; is merely a statement of the hereafter ; it contains no judgmental quality whatsoever. Theoklymenos s prophesies to Penelope that Odysseus is at manus on the island and plotting retribution on the suers ( 417 ) This, of class, is already true, so the prognostication is technically true every bit good. However, it makes no opinion on the rightness or inappropriateness of either Odysseus s or the suers place.

Teiresias shade s address to Odysseus ( 333 ) is a purely nonsubjective prediction, but however important to the secret plan and character development. He states that Odysseus will set down on Thrinakia ; that if his shopmates eat Helios s cowss they will be destroyed ;

that Odysseus will do the suers pay in blood ; and that if he makes reparations to Lord Poseidon he will be granted a soft sea-borne decease. Though Teiresias

S prognostication is barren of the prejudice which marks and omens possess, it contains adequate to qualify non merely him but besides Odysseus. Teiresias is degree headed and merely, & # 8220 ; everlastingly / charged with ground even among the dead & # 8221 ; ( 329 ) . Odysseus is characterized by his answer to Teiresias: & # 8221 ; my life runs on so as the Gods have spun it & # 8221 ; ( 334 ) . Odysseus does non seek to get away his fate or alter the prognostication to accommodate his personal desire ; he simply accepts it and thereby accepts the will of the Gods.

Although there are countless illustrations of deities revenging themselves on persons for errors, there is merely one good illustration of godly disapprobation contained straight within a prognostication. Aigisthos is warned by the Gods non to kill Agamemnot ( 341 ) , but he ignores the advice and is finally slain by Orestes, Agamemnon s boy. By his very act of non minding to the prognostication, he invites the Gods retaliation ; the Gods avenge themselves by leting the prognostication to be fulfilled. In this instance, the Gods condemn Aigisthos through the prognostication because he did non listen to it in the first topographic point!

Easily the most frequently seen type of prophesy is that of godly direction. A sample follows: Hermes gives Odysseus advice and assist on how to get the better of Circe s tests ( 323-324 ) ; Circe besides subsequently tells Odysseus the path he is destined to take place, and the tests he will confront ( 349-350 ) ; through Calypso, Zeus prophesies that Odysseus will return to the & # 8220 ; civilized universe & # 8221 ; on Skheria after 20 yearss at sea ( 364 ) . A general relation between a character s traits and his heeding of prognostications can be seen when the prognostications are godly direction. If the character follows the Gods advice he will thrive. But the advice is offered non because a adult male is comfortable but because he is worthy. Therefore, if a adult male is worthy, he will repeatedly have advice, and frailty versa. How is a adult male worthy? By being brave, honest, true, and following the Gods advice!

This relation is purely a generalisation, but can be applied to the other types of prognostications as good. The generalisation helps us qualify the prophesees by their heeding of the prognostication. On the negative side, Aigisthos was slain because he didn t mind the Gods warning ; this makes him unworthy, which means he wasn T brave, honest, etc. The suers repeatedly ignored the portents of the Gods and Halitheses s prognostication ; therefore they were unworthy and deserved to decease, etc. On the positive side, because Odysseus is worthy he is courageous, honest, true, and follows the Gods advice. Besides, because he is worthy the Gods offer him advice. It is round consecutive logic, but it holds in the book. Odysseus blinds Polyphemus, offends his male parent, and Poseidon extends Odysseus s ocean trip place. But because Odysseus is worthy and merely made an mistake, the Gods guide him back to rapprochement with the earth-shaker. How? Bad luck leads Odysseus to Aiaia. There Hermes helps him face Circe. Because of this, Circe leads Odyseus to the underworld and Teiresias. Teiresias instructs Odysseus on how to pacify Lord Poseidon ; Circe tells Odysseus how to acquire place.

Furthermore, though it is hard to see, prognostications besides help qualify the prophet, in the Odyssey, chiefly the Gods. That the Gods have the power to see the prophet, in the Odyssey, chiefly the Gods. That the Gods have the power to see the future sets them apart from persons ; that they use this information sagely indicates that they are responsible existences. That a worthy adult male like Odysseus continually follows their advice means that the Gods are trusty ; that they can carry through their prognostications even without the prophesee s cooperation shows that they are powerful, responsible, trusty and distant. This description is non exact, but within the superstructure of the Odyssey it is about right.

All the different signifiers of prognostication, portents, marks, rigorous anticipation, godly disapprobation and direction, jointly shape character development: many of the cardinal actions in Homer would non hold occurred if the characters failed to show religion in prognostications and portents. Though its usage as a secret plan device is more easy seen, its usage for word picture in the Odyssey is far more of import. In old plants, prognostication was used purely as a secret plan rationalisation, but in the Odyssey it has a critical function, impacting both the secret plan and characters.

Lawall, Sarah. The Norton Anthology of World Masterpieces. Norton & A ; Company, New