Athena, the Greek goddess of both wisdom and war, is often considered the craftiest of all Olympian gods. She was born of a headache, and erupted from Zeus’ head fully armed and ready for battle. However, beside all this pomp, she is a rather caring, if war-loving, immortal. Throughout the entirety of The Odyssey she conveys an entirely platonic, almost motherly love for Odysseus. It is this that makes her significant character in Homer’s work. In The Odyssey, Athena is portrayed as a, if not the, major female figure throughout the entire epic poem. With her affection for Odysseus and her frequent appearances she plays a major role throughout the entire poem. Evidence of this integral role will be presented as proof of her importance to the story.
Right ...view middle of the document...
She herself conveys this attachment in her actions done to protect him, such as the time he was caught in the storm cause by the wrath of Poseidon. “The rest of the winds she stopped right in their tracks, commanding them all to hush now, go to sleep.”(164) She does not allow harm to come to him, but instead defies her own uncle’s authority to punish. And beyond even this, she appears to him in person to greet him on his return to Ithica. It is here where not only does she guide him with a plan, but she, a goddess, extols him. “Here among mortal men you’re far the best at tactics, spinning yarns…”(296) She considers him to be plenty worthy of her assistance.
This constant direction and saving help gives her a frequency of appearance in The Odyssey, making her a character at the forefront of the story. Also, it is her help that progresses the story. She is the one that plans for Odysseus’ attack on the suitors, and she often gives the people he encounters thoughts to help him along. She gives strength to Nausicaa, “Only Alcinous’ daughter held fast, for Athena planted courage within her heart…”(172), and plants in Penelope’s head the idea for the contest, “The goddess Athena with her blazing eyes inspired Penelope…”(424), among many other occasions.
Odysseus himself recognizes that his journey would have been impossible if it were not for Athena’s help. “I have come home to my native ground at last…Athena’s work, the Fighter’s Queen.” In the end, it is Athena saves Odysseus from the wrath of the suitors’ families, “And Athena handed down her pacts of peace between both sides…”(485) All in all, this adventure could never have taken place without Athena’s control, her being the player who moved all the right pieces.