In the Odyssey, vengeance is one of the most important themes, as it is why almost all the conflict in the story happens. First, Poseidon constantly upbraids Odysseus for blinding his son, Polyphemus, by making his journey home extremely difficult. Also, Telemachus and Odysseus need to get revenge on the suitors for disrupting their family. Lastly, Odysseus tells Penelope “to stay quietly in her chambers since the angry kin of the suitors will be vengeful” (Nardo, 100). The Odyssey contains many people getting revenge on others, like Poseidon reprimanding Odysseus for blinding his son, Odysseus and Telemachus repaying the suitors for disrespecting their household, and the families of the late suitors requiting Odysseus and Telemachus for killing the suitors.
First, Poseidon’s vengeance plays an important role in this poem because it is the cause of almost every challenge that causes Odysseus not to return home easily. He wanted to get revenge on Odysseus because he blinded his Cyclops son, Polyphemus. Although Polyphemus ate a few of Odysseus’s men while they stayed on his island, the death of a few sailors did not give Poseidon the satisfaction of vengeance. Therefore, Poseidon decides to make Odysseus’s journey home long and dangerous. He is responsible for most of the tribulations that Odysseus and his crew encounter. But, at the end, Odysseus overcame “every obstacle of men and gods” (Nardo, 54).
Next, Odysseus and his son, Telemachus, want to avenge the suitors for upsetting their home by eating all the food and disrespecting Penelope, Odysseus’s wife and Telemachus’ mother. The suitors have stolen Odysseus’s integrity and home, and he will stop at nothing to get them back. Telemachus and Odysseus form a plan to defeat the suitors by a surprise attack. After the action took place, they had “slaughter[ed] an entire generation of Ithacan youth” vying to take Odysseus’s role (Bloom, 89). Although this may be seen today as an “unjustified slaughter”, during Odysseus’s time, it is seen as noble. In conclusion, Odysseus and Telemachus got revenge on the suitors by killing them all because suitors would stop at nothing to take everything Odysseus had.
Lastly, the families of the suitors became exceedingly angry with Odysseus and all of his family for killing the suitors. Although the suitors took almost all that Odysseus had, they still had families who loved them and would stop at nothing to get revenge on the person who killed them. For example, “Eupeithes, father of Antinous… rallies an angry throng to arms” (Bloom, 103). Even though the suitors were horrible people, their families probably saw them as ambitious and loving, which is why they were so angry when they heard that Odysseus killed them. They saw the killings as unjust and wrong because they thought that the suitors did nothing wrong. This is why the families of the suitors want to get revenge on Odysseus so badly.
All in all, vengeance plays a huge role in the poem The Odyssey because it affects the beginning, middle, and end of the play. Revenge influences the beginning by Poseidon putting hardships on Odysseus and his crew so that they wouldn’t get home to Ithaca because they blinded his son. It affects the middle of the poem by Odysseus and Telemachus killing all the suitors because they ate all of Odysseus’s food and tried to steal his wife, which was a major offense in his time. Therefore, we “can understand why the suitors’ repeated insults to suppliants aggravate the seriousness of their crimes and justify the vengeance in Odysseus” (Nardo, 61). Vengeance appears in the end because the late suitors’ families want to kill Odysseus and his family for killing their family, who, in their eyes, did nothing to deserve being brutally slaughtered by Odysseus. Vengeance is one of the most important themes in The Odyssey by Poseidon affecting Odysseus’s return home because he blinded Polyphemus, Odysseus and Telemachus killing all the suitors for eating their food and trying to take Odysseus’s title, and the late suitor’s families trying to avenge the suitors deaths.