The Concept Of Justice In The Odyssey

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The Concept Of Justice In The Odyssey Essay, Research Paper The Odyssey is a Greek word meaning the tale of Odysseus. Odysseus, the King of Ithaca; husband of Penelope; father of Telemachus; and son of Laertes was not able to return home after the war he was once in: the Trojan War. Stuck on an island, he is presumed dead. In his absence, suitors for his wife ruin his house with lavish feasts. This epic poem, by Homer, describes how Odysseus, with the help of the gods, gets home and regains his kingship. Justice is always harsh in the Odyssey; there is either no justice or a lot of it; the punishment however, is always severe. Justice in the Odyssey plays out among these characters: Odysseus and his crew, the suitors, Poseidon, Aeolus, Hyperion, Agamemnon, Aegisthus,

Melanthius, Melantho, Telemachus, and Polyphemus. Each one of these characters does something wrong and receives a harsh punishment. In the Odyssey, justice, when done, always allots a large punishment, never a small one.Aegisthus courted Agamemnon s wife and then killed him. The justice of the Gods is a swift and powerful one. However, Aegisthus had been warned: we ourselves had sent Hermes, the keen-eyed Giant-slayer, to warn him neither to kill the man nor to court his wife (pg. 4). Aegisthus ignored the warning, killing Agamemnon and courting his wife. Orestes, Agamemnon s son, killed Aegisthus to avenge his father s death. The gods saw this as swift, fair, and powerful justice: And now Aegisthus has paid the final price for all his sins (pg. 4).The suitors, led by Antinous

and Eurymachus, expect justice to be served when Telemachus sails to Pylos without telling them. [The] Suitors had embarked and were sailing the high seas with murder for Telemachus in their hearts (pg. 69). They eventually found him, however they did not kill him like they sought out to. This is a case in which justice did not happen at all.The adventure of Odysseus and Polyphemus, the cycloptic son of Poseidon, showed good examples of justice. Polyphemus ate four men of Odysseus crew and in return, Odysseus and his remaining crew administered justice: Seizing the olive pole, they drove its sharpened end into the Cyclops eye (pg. 135). In doing this, they were able to escape and they set sail. Odysseus, carried away in his pride, announced his identity to Polyphemus. When he had

heard Odysseus name, Polyphemus called upon his father, Poseidon, to administer justice on Odysseus for harming him so.Poseidon sought out justice for Odysseus because he had harmed one of his sons. When Odysseus departed from Calypso s island, Poseidon noticed and wrecked havoc using his powers of the sea: [Odysseus] heard the thunder of surf on a rocky coast. With an angry roar the great seas were battering at the rocky land and all was veiled in spray. There were no coves, no harbours, that would hold a ship; nothing but headlands jutting out, sheer rock and jagged reefs (pg. 81-82). Also after the Phaeacians had helped Odysseus, Poseidon punished them for their kindness to his enemy.Hyperion, the sun god, loved his cattle and told Odysseus and his crew not to eat them. When

the crew was starving, they slaughtered and ate Hyperion s cows. Hyperion demanded justice from the gods: Father Zeus and you other blessed gods who live for ever, take vengeance on the followers of Odysseus. . . They have criminally killed my cattle, the cattle that gave me such joy every day as I climbed the starry sky and as I dropped down from heaven and sank once more to earth (pg. 190). Zeus answered Hyperion and killed all of Odysseus crew. Aeolus had given Odysseus a large leather bag, which contained the strong winds that could set them off course. Odysseus crew got curious and opened the bag. All the strong winds hurried them off course, and they eventually landed back to Aeolus island. They went to Aeolus and asked for help. However Aeolus was very mad for the crew s