Marks, J. 2008. Zeus in the Odyssey. Hellenic Studies Series 31. Washington, DC: Center for Hellenic Studies. http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:hul.ebook:CHS_Marks.Zeus_in_the_Odyssey.2008.
Oresteia and Odyssey
Zeus, Athene and the opening of the Odyssey
νῆσον ἐς Ὠγυγίην ὀτρύνομεν, ὄφρα τάχιστα85
νύμφηι ἐυπλοκάμωι εἴπηι νημερτέα βουλήν,
νόστον Ὀδυσσῆος ταλασίφρονος, ὥς κε νέηται.
αύτὰρ ἐγὼν Ἰθάκηνδ᾿ ἐσελεύσομαι, ὄφρα οἱ υἱὸν
μᾶλλον ἐποτρύνω καί οἱ μένος ἐν φρεσὶ θείω,
εἰς ἀγορὴν καλέσαντα κάρη κομόωντας Ἀχαιοὺς90
πᾶσι μνηστήρεσσιν ἀπειπέμεν, οἵ τέ οἱ αἰεὶ
μῆλ᾿ ἀδινὰ σφάζουσι καὶ εἰλίποδας ἕλικας βοῦς.
πέμψω δ᾿ ἐς Σπάρτην τε καὶ ἐς Πύλον ἠμαθόεντα
νόστον πευσόμενον πατρὸς φίλου, ἤν που ἀκούσηι,
ἠδ᾿ ἵνα μιν κλέος ἐσθλὸν ἐν ἀνθρώποισιν ἔχηισιν.
Then let us send Hermes the runner, Argeiphontes,
to the island of Ogygie, in order that quick as possible85
he may tell to the fair-tressed nymph our unerring plan,
the homecoming of firm-minded Odysseus, so that he may return.
But I myself will go to Ithake, so that his son
I may the more urge on and put might in his heart,
to call to assembly the long-haired Achaians90
and denounce all the suitors, who always
slaughter his rich flocks and shambling crook-horned cattle.
And I will send him to Sparta and to sandy Pylos
to learn of his own father’s return, if he may somehow hear,
and in order that he may have good repute among people.
And so it happens. Athene departs for Ithake at once, and Books 2 through 4 narrate Telemachos’ public denunciation of the suitors and his quest for word of his father. Odysseus’ story is taken up in Book 5, when the gods dispatch Hermes to Ogygie.
ἐξ ἡμέων γάρ φασὶ κάκ᾿ ἔμμεναι· οἰ δὲ καὶ αὐτοὶ
σφῆισιν ἀτασθαλίηισιν ὑπὲρ μόρον ἄλγε᾿ ἔχουσιν,
ὡς καὶ νῦν Αἴγισθος ὑπὲρ μόρον Ἀτρείδαο35
γῆμ᾿ ἄλοχον μνηστήν, τὸν δ᾿ ἔκτανε νοστήσαντα,
εἰδὼς αἰπὺν ὄλεθρον, ἐπεὶ πρὸ οἱ εἴπομεν ἡμεῖς
Ἑμρείαν πέμψαντες ἐύσκοπον Ἀργειφόντην,
μήτ᾿ αὐτὸν κτείνειν μήτε μνάασθαι ἄκοιτιν·
ἐκ γὰρ Ὀρέσταο τίσις ἔσσεται Ἀτρείδαο40
ὁππότ᾿ ἂν ἡβήσηι τε καὶ ἧς ἱμείρεται αἴης.
ὣς ἔφαθ᾿ Ἑρμείας, ἀλλ᾿ οὐ φρένας Αἰγίσθοιο
πεῖθ᾿ ἀγαθὰ φρονέων· νῦν δ᾿ ἀθρόα πάντ᾿ἀπέτισε.
Alas, how indeed now men find fault with the gods.
For evils are from us they say; but they themselves
by their own reckless acts have sufferings beyond their portion.
So even now Aigisthos beyond his portion35
courted the wedded wife of Atreus’ son, and killed him when he returned,
although he knew it was sheer destruction, since we ourselves told him,
having sent Hermes, keen-sighted Argeiphontes,
to tell him neither to kill the man nor court his wife;
for from Orestes there would be payback for Atreus’ son40
whenever he came of age and longed for his land.
Thus spoke Hermes; but he did not persuade the mind of Aigisthos
for all his good intent; and now he has paid back all at once.
The broad thematic correspondences between this story and the main narrative of the Odyssey are well documented. Zeus’ Aigisthos, for example, is comparable to the Kyklops, Odysseus’ crew, the Phaiakes, and the suitors, all of whom suffer after failing to heed divine admonition. The heedless Aigisthos picks up the theme of the heedless crew in the proem, which theme Athene will transfer to the heedless suitors. The thematic opposition between Aigisthos and Orestes will be recreated in that between the suitors and Telemachos when the setting moves to Ithake (cf. 1.114-117). Thus the view of divine justice with which Zeus frames his Oresteia can be seen to inform the narrative as a whole.
|Character-type||Zeus’ Oresteia||Athene’s proposal|
|returning Trojan war hero||Agamemnon||Odysseus|
|hero’s faithful son||Orestes||Telemachos|
|seducer of hero’s wife||Aigisthos (of Klytaimnestre)||suitors (of Penelope)Kalypso (of Odysseus)|
|power opposing seducer||“we gods”||“we gods”|
|voice of opposing power||Hermes||Hermes|
Klytaimnestre and Penelope
. . . Penelope, from whom, along with Hermes, it is said by the Hellenes that Pan was born . . .
Another, more full account connects the story with the same region in which Pausanias found Penelope’s tomb:
Zeus’ Oresteia constructs at the outset a “good Hermes,” one who aids the gods in pointing out the negative consequences of seduction. As in the case of the competing versions of Penelope, Zeus’ positive valorization can be seen as a programmatic act, as well as a tacit acknowledgment that stories of the “bad Hermes” had achieved a level of diffusion that would provoke de-authorization.  Members of the Homeric audience who were familiar with such traditions, perhaps Arkadians or worshippers of the god Pan generally, could have found Hermes’ prominence at the beginning of the Odyssey, and the choice of him to dissuade Kalypso from “cuckolding” Penelope, ironical or even humorous. At the same time, Zeus’ casting of Hermes as an opponent of seduction in the Oresteia paradigm could also foreshadow the fact that the Odyssean Penelope will not be seduced by the god. 
Orestes and Telemachos
Nostoi and Odyssey