I actually agree in the statement: “It must be borne in mind that the Greek Gods are seldom omnipotent and arbitrary deities who manipulate men or impose an external fate upon them. Instead they are part of the natural fabric of men’s lives, and even through present as anthropomorphic beings, who interact with men in a direct way, they reflect, rather than control, the forces which governs all men.” Especially when it comes to Homer’s works that it began from his book the Iliad. If the Greek gods are all omnipotent and arbitrary especially Zeus, who claims to be all powerful did not see what his wife plotting. If he is all knowing and powerful, why would he fear his wife? Could his wife be more powerful that Zeus, himself? Hera destroyed the city of Troy because the Shepard Prince chooses Aphrodite over her. He chooses beauty and love over power.
I believe that the gods see what they want to see and don’t see what they don’t want to see. As I read the Odyssey once again the stronger I believe that statement because well according to Edith Hamilton’s Mythology: Athena was angered by the Greeks when they dragged and dishonored Prima’s daughter Cassandra. Also according to the book Apollo loved Cassandra but she declined Apollo’s love. Since he had already bestowed a gift of seeing the future to her, Apollo was not allowed to take it back.
So he made it that no one would believe Cassandra. Thus the fall of Troy happened even if Cassandra told the Trojan’s about it. If the gods saw all this and they were allowed to interact with people why did they not see this happening? Athena who was angered by Ajax went to Poseidon for help in giving the Greeks a horrible home coming. According to the Odyssey, Athena favored Odysseus because he was brave and smart. According to the book as well Athena helped Telemachu, she took the form of an old man. But where was Athena when Calypso held Odysseus against his will in an island that Calypso owned. Arbitrary means above the law, yet Athena had to beg her father for help when Odysseus was with Calypso.
Why did Zeus send Hermes instead of going down to Calypso himself and demand that Calypso set Odysseus free? If the gods are omnipotent and arbitrary, why did they not just kill all of Penelope’s suitors or sent them away. Why Telemachu did still had to go on a quest just like his father to look for his father? Couldn’t the gods or goddess just have told him where his father was? Poseidon’s anger was reflected through the waves of the sea. Hera’s jealousy was reflected through the trials of Troy and Odysseus. They reflect the characteristics of humans in general.
The gods can manipulate but the can not control especially humans who have a very strong will. In this other story I had read by Euripides entitled Andromache, Andromache was taken from Troy and give to Achilles’ son Neoptolemus who was already married to Menelaus’ daughter Hermione. Astyanax who is the heir to the kingdom of Troy was killed. Andromache bore Neoptolemus a son named Molossus. Which invoke the envy of Hermione who had plotted to killer her and her son, Peleus the father of Achilles had to come to stop Menelaus and his daughter from killing Andromache and Molossus. He gave Menelaus his daughter back. Hermione thinking of what she tried to do felt remorse and tried to kill herself until Orestes the son of Agamemnon came. Orestes killed Neoptolemus.
Peleus had to grieve before his said wife Thetis came down to remind him that Neoptolemus has a son and that both races of Troy and Phthia is alive in the boy. Just like the statement said the gods and goddess chose to ignore this, if they were what they claim to be Omnipotent and Arbitrary they could have easily stopped the blood shed. But they choose to ignore it, until the last moment when Thetis came down. The trial that Peleus endure was not his choosing but the gods. Again they can manipulate but they cannot control people.
In another story I’ve read entitled Electra by Sophocles. Electra the daughter of Agamemnon was seeking justice for the death of their father and this she was disowned by her mother. Orestes who was away was instructed by the gods to pretend that he was dead in order for him to get revenge over their mother. Agamemnon was killed because he killed one of children in order for the storm to calm and they could sail for Troy in order to get Helen back from Paris.
When Orestes came home he killed his mother and he and his sister lived to rule the kingdom of Agamemnon. With the three stories that I have read I can say that the statement is true. How can they claim to be omnipotent and arbitrary when all this started with a simple jealousy that none of them could stop? So many tests for the race of men that the gods manipulate in order for them to bend to their will.Sources :Odyssey by Homer:www.classic.mit.edu/homer/odyssey.htmlElectra by Sophocles:www.classic.mit.edu/sophocles/electra.htmlAndromache by Euripideswww.classic.mit.edu/euripides/andromache.html