Homer; Man and Responsibility

In this article we originally analyze an excerpt from the ‘Odyssey‘, which clearly states that the creature ‘Man’, for Homer, is (or should be) a creature of Responsibility.


Homer’s Odyssey, Rhapsody A, Verses 32-34:

Ancient Greek: (Zeus speaking) “Ω πόποι, οίον δη νυ θεούς βροτοί αιτιόωνται. εξ ημέων γαρ φασι κάκ’ έμμεναι. οι δέ και αυτοί σφήσιν ατασθαλίησιν υπέρ μόρον άλγε’ έχουσιν”

English: “Oh! what a thing it is when mortals blame the gods! Because they say that everything bad (everything bad that happens to them) comes from us. But they suffer above fate (Note: ‘above/beyond their share’ is the 100% translation) due to their own irregularities”

NovoScriptorium: Many times people transfer their own responsibilities to other people. They -rationally or irrationally- accuse others for their misfortunes and failures. Very commonly, too, they do the same with the Divine. In this excerpt Homer presents us his belief that this is a completely wrong way of thinking. Man, for Homer, is a creature of responsibility. He suffers or enjoys ‘above/beyond fate’ exclusively and solely because of his choices.

How irrational it is really when one acts irregularly/improperly all the time and when suffering follows his actions (in any possible form), then protests that this is an unfair treatment from the Divine.

Another important finding here is that, for Homer, the Divine is not meant to be evil or in the state/position of being able to do evil; all evilness among people comes as a consequence of their own bad actions.

Interestingly, these views seem to have great affiliation with Orthodox Christian views/beliefs, where God is perceived/understood/considered as totally irrelevant to evil and generally unassociated to anything ‘bad’ at all, unable to be or do anything evil or bad. Additionally, Man is believed to have been granted by his Creator the gift of free will and, henceforth, is absolutely responsible for his choices and the consequences that emerge from them.

We should carefully take in consideration the reference to ‘fate’/’μοίρα’. The exact translation of the word ‘μοίρα’, instead of ‘fate’, is ‘share’.

There appears to be a similarity between what Homer writes here, and what is called in Orthodoxy ‘the personal cross of every Man’. What is meant with this is the share of difficulties that God allows for every Man, for reasons that only He knows, but surely helpful to Man to heal his soul’s condition (just like the remedies and medicines are bitter and have side-effects but help us fix our Health).

The critical point is how one manages this ‘personal cross’; actually, the question is how does Man manage his gift of Free Will. Proper management helps Man to avoid making things worse, i.e. his personal cross does not get heavier. On the contrary, if his choices are in the direction of irregular/improper acts, then, inescapably, he will bring on his head sufferings ‘above/beyond fate’.

Research-Analysis for NovoScriptorium: Isidoros Aggelos

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