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God Timeline of Athena, Zeus, Poseidon, and Hermes


All page numbers correspond to the version of the Odyssey

by Homer that was translated by Robert Fagles.

Book 1

“Poseidon had gone to visit the Ethiopians world away” (78)

Voices her decision to go down to Ithaca and inspire courage in Telemachus’s heart (80)

Disguised herself as “Mentes, lord of the Taphians” (81) 

“Father, son of Cronus, our high and mighty king! If now it really pleases the blissful gods that wise Odysseus shall return – home at last – let us dispatch the guide and giant-killer Hermes down to Oygia Island, down to announce at once to the nymph with lovely braids our fixed decree: Odysseus journeys home – the exile must return!” (80)

Asks for Zeus’s thoughts and mercy regarding Odysseus (79)

Assures Telemachus that Odysseus is still alive, that he will surely return home and that Telemachus is truly Odysseus’s son (84)

Advises Telemachus to “sail in quest of news” of Odysseus, to Pylos and Sparta. (86)

“Lavished a marvelous splendor on [Telemachus] so all the people all gazed in wonder” (93)

Instructs Telemachus to “tell the suitors to scatter” (86)

Asks for Zeus’s thoughts and mercy regarding Odysseus (79)

“Bards are not to blame – Zeus is to blame. He deals to each and every laborer on this earth whatever doom he pleases” (88-89).

Book 2

Disguised herself as Telemachus to recruit crewmen and to ask Noëmon “to lend her a swift ship” (105)

“And to seal his prayer, farseeing Zeus sent down a sign. He launched two eagles soaring high from a mountain ridge and down they glided, borne on the wind’s draft a moment, wing to wingtip, pinions straining taut till just above the assembly’s throbbing hum they whirled, suddenly, wings thrashing, wild onslaught of wings and banking down at the crowd’s heads  a glaring, fatal sign” (98).

Sat in the pilot’s seat next to Telemachus, disguised as Mentor (106)

“Lavished a marvelous splendor on [Telemachus] so all the people all gazed in wonder” (93)

Answers Telemachus’s prayer during assembly disguised “with Mentor’s build and voice” and assures Telemachus he will reach his goal (101).

Told Telemachus to hurry and start his voyage after she “showered sweet oblivion over the suitors” (105)

Sent a strong wind out of the west to guide the ship (106)

Becomes upset when Telemachus said Odysseus’s return is “inconceivable [since] the undying gods have sealed his death” (115)

Prays to Poseidon to grant glory to Nestor and his sons, to reward the Pylians for their rites, and to grant Telemachus and herself a “safe passage home” (109)

Heard Nestor’s prayer for fame when Nestor realized Mentor was actually Athena in disguise (119)

Praised Nestor’s story and told him that it is time for her and Telemachus to leave (118)

Athen prays to Poseidon “Hear me, Sea-lord, you who embrace the earth—…And last, Poseidon, grant Telemachus and myself safe passage home, the mission accomplished that sped us here in our rapid black ship.” (109)

Tells Telemachus to stop being shy and to make Nester “yield the secrets of his heart” (108)

Kills Ajax by using a trident (140)

Book 3

Book 4

After Calypso sends Odysseus into the sea, Poseidon throws a large wave breaking apart the boat he’s on. (163)

Made a phantom in the form of Penelope’s sister, Iphthime, to reassure Penelope that Telemachus “will still come home” safe (150)

“As one god to another, you ask me why I have come. I’ll tell you the whole story, mince no words-your wish is my command. It was Zeus who made me come, no choice of mine.” (155)

“He seized the wand that enchants they eyes of men whenever Hermes wants, or wakes us up from sleep. The wand in his grip, the powerful giant-killer, swooping down from Pieria, down the high clear air, plunged to the sea and skimmed the waves like a tern that down the deadly gulfs of the barren salts swells glides and dives for fish, dipping its beating wings in bursts of spray- so Hermes skimmed the crests in endless crests. But once he gained that island worlds apart, up from the deep-blue sea he climbed to dry land and strode in till he reached the spacious cave where the nymph with lovely braids had made her home, and he found her there inside…” (154)

“What monstrous clouds – King Zeus crowning the whole wide heaven black – churning the seas in chaos, gales blasting, raging around my head from every quarter – my death-plunge in a flash, it’s certain now!” (161)

“Calypso, lustrous goddess, knew him at once, as soon as she saw his features face to face. Immortals are never strangers to each other, no matter how distant one may make her home. But as for the great Odysseus- Hermes could not find him within the cave. Off he sat on the headland, weeping there as always, wrenching his heart with sobs and groans of anguish, gazing out over the barren sea through blinding tears. But Calypso loving goddess, questioned Hermes, seating him on a glistening, polished chair. “God of the golden wand, why have you come? A beloved, honored friend, but its been so long, your visits much too rare. Tell me what’s on your mind. I’m eager to do it, whatever I can do…whatever can be done.” (155)

Countered Poseidon’s waves by stopped the winds “right in their tracks” to save Odysseus from death (164)

“With those words, Zeus turned to his own son Hermes. You are our messenger, Hermes, sent on all our missions. Announce to the nymph with lovely braids our fixed decree: Odysseus journeys home-the exile must return.” (153)

Recalled Odysseus to the thoughts of the gods who “sat down in council, circling Zeus” (152)

Book 5

“Now Zeus commands you send him off with all good speed: it is not his fate to die here, far from his own people. Destiny still ordains that he shall see his loved ones, reach his high-roofed house, his native land at last.” (156)

“Stood in awe of her Father’s brother” Poseidon, who was still enraged at Odysseus (178)

Made Odysseus taller and more attractive to Nausicaa, who “gazed in wonder” (176)

Disguised as “the shipman Dymas’ daughter” (169), persuades princess Nausicaa to wash her clothes the next morning

“showered sleep upon” Odysseus when he reached land after his shipwreck (167)

“Planted courage within” Nausicaa so the princess would not panic and run away from Odysseus (172)

“traveled through the countryside and reached the Phaeacians’ city” (168)

Heard Odysseus’s prayer for “some mercy and some love” from the Phaeacian people (178)

Inspired Odysseus to lunge for and cling to a reef “for dear life…until the giant wave surged past and so he escaped its force” (165)

Book 6

Book 7

“Now Zeus who masses the stormclouds hit the fleet with the North Wind – a howling, demonic gale, shrouding over in thunderheads the earth and sea at once – and night swept down from the sky and the ships went plunging headlong on, our sails slashed to rags by the hurricane’s blast!” (213)

“Drifted a heavy mist around” Odysseus to shield him from danger (180)

Makes Odysseus “taller, more massive” so the Phaeacians may respect him (192)

“ Hermes the god of the golden wand crossed my path, and he looked for all the world like a young man sporting his first beard, just in the prime and warm pride of youth, and grasoed me by the hand and asked me kindly “Where are you going now, my unlucky friend-trekking over the hills alone in unfamiliar country? And your men are all in there in Circe’s palace, cooped like swine, hock by jowl in the sites. Have you come to set them free? Well I warn you, you won’t get home yourself, you will stay right there, trapped with all the rest. But wait, I can save you, free you from that great danger. Look, here is a potent drug. Take it to Circe’s halls- its power alone will shield you from the fatal day. Let me tell you all the witch’s subtle witchcraft…” (239)

Disguised as a man, praised the distance of Odysseus’s discus, saying that no one could beat him (198)

Disguised herself as a young girl and guided him to Alcinous’s palace, telling him that the men “have no love for hosting a man from foreign lands” (180)

Book 8

“But I, cursed as I am, some power brought me to her hearth, alone, when Zeus with a white-hot bolt had crushed my racing warship down the win-dark sea” (187)

Disguised as Aclinous’ herald, urges all the citizens to go to the palace and learn about Odysseus, a new arrival who “looks like a deathless god” (192)

Book 9

Book 10

“Now south through the spacious dancing-rings of Lacedaemon Athena went to remind the hero’s princely son of his journey home and spur him on his way” (319)

“She shriveled the supple skin on his lithe limbs, stripped the russet curls from his head, covered his body top to toe with the wrinkled hide of an old man and dimmed the fire in his eyes” (300)

“Now here’s the plan of action, step by step. The moment Circe strikes with her long thin wand, you draw your sharp sword sheathed at you hip and rush her fast as if to run her through!”  (239)

“When Cronian Zeus brought on the seventh day, the wind in its ceaseless raging dropped at last, and stepping the mast at once, hoisting the white sail we boarded ship and launched her, made for open sea” (283)

“They all shouted approval of the prince as Odysseus belted up, roping his rags around his loins, baring his big rippling thighs  his boxer’s broad shoulders, his massive chest and burly arms on full display as Athena stood beside him” (377)

“Zeus himself  when I was just at the final gasp – thrust the huge mast of my dark-prowed vessel right into my arms so I might flee disaster one more time” (311)

Zeus states, “‘Here’s what seems best to me. As the people all lean down from the city heights to watch her speeding home, strike her into a rock that looks like a racing vessel, just offshore” (291)

“Athena stroked him with her golden wand. First she made the cloak and shirt on his body fresh and clean, then made him taller, supple, young, his ruddy tan came back, the cut of his jawline firmed and the dark beard clustered black around his chin” (344)

“Zeus hit the craft with a lightning-bolt and thunder” (284)

“With that the giant-killer handed over the magic herb, pulling it from the earth, and Hermes showed me all its name and nature.” (239-240) 

Book 12

Book 13

Book 14

Book 15

Book 16

Book 18

“But now the goddess Athena with her glinting eyes inspired Penelope, Icarius’ daughter, wary, poised, to display herself to her suitors, fan their hearts, inflame them more, and make her even more esteemed by her husband and her son than she had been before” (381)

“And Zeus in all his wisdom heard that prayer. He thundered at once, out of his clear blue heavens high above the clouds, and Odysseus’ spirit lifted” (413)

“Up they sprang, Odysseus and his princely son, and began to carry off the helmets, studded shields and pointed spears, and Pallas Athena strode before them, lifting a golden lamp that cast a dazzling radiance round about” (391)

Book 19

Book 20

“But Athena had no mind to let the brazen suitors hold back now from their heart-rending insults – she meant to make the anguish cut still deeper into the core of Laertes’ son Odysseus” (419)

Book 21

“The goddess Athena with her blazing eyes inspired Penelope, Icarius’ daughter, wary, poised, to set the bow and the gleaming iron axes out before her suitors waiting in Odysseus; hall – to test their skill and bring their slaughter on” (424)

“Climbing up to the lofty chamber with her women, she fell weeping for Odysseus, her beloved husband, till watchful Athena sealed her eyes with welcome sleep” (435)

Book 22

“Now Zeus’s daughter Athena, taking the build and voice of Mentor, swept in and Odysseus, thrilled to see her, cried out, ‘Rescue us, Mentor, now it’s life or death! Remember your old comrade – all the service I offered you! We were boys together!” (445)

 “All six hurled as one but Athena sent the whole salvo wide of the mark” (447)

Book 23

“Athena crowned the man with beauty, head to foot, made him taller to all eyes, his build more massive, yes, and down from his brow the great goddess ran his curls like thick hyacinth clusters full of blooms” (460)

“By now the daylight covered the land, but Pallas, shrouding them all in darkness, quickly led the four men out of town” (467)

Book 24

“Now Cyllenian Hermes called away the suitors’ ghosts, holding firm in his hand the wand of fine pure gold that enchants they eyes of men whenever Hermes wants or wakes us up from sleep. With a wave he stirred and led them on and the ghosts trailed after with high thin cries.” (468)

“So with their thin high cries the ghosts flocked now and Hermes the Healer led them on, and down the dank moldering paths and past the Ocean’s streams they went and past the White Rock and the Sun’s Western Gates and past the Land od Dreams, and they soon reached the fields of asphodel where the dead, the burnt-out wraiths of mortals, make their home. (468-469)

“And Athena handed down her pacts of peace between both sides for all the years to come – the daughter of Zeus whose shield is storm and thunder, yes, but the goddess still kept Mentor’s build and voice” (485)

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