Odysseus Use Of Justice In Homer's Odyssey

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As the precise definition of justice cannot be definitively stated, the line separating just from unjust actions is incredibly obscure. Many factors may influence an individual’s perception of what constitutes justice, such as time period, culture, or personal morals. Thus, while an act may be considered righteous in one context, the same act may be ruled unjust in other contexts. For instance, when Odysseus finally returns home to Ithaca, as retribution for defiling his home and attempting to court his wife, Odysseus murders all of Penelope’s suitors. The extremely graphic depiction of his retribution had appeared almost superfluous, causing the morality of his actions to be brought into question. Therefore, interpreting this scene from a…show more content…
While Odysseus’ actions taken to punish the suitors may appear immoral in modern society, by considering the ways in which modern society differs from Homeric society, Odysseus’ actions are just in the context of the poem. As violence has an extremely negative connotation in modern society, the use of the death penalty is morally ambiguous, and is a highly debated topic; however, violence is far more legitimized in the society of the Odyssey, and therefore, death is a far more acceptable form of punishment. This idea is exemplified by the way in which violence is discussed between characters within the Odyssey. In particular, this general acceptance of violence is demonstrated through the fact that many of the characters within the Odyssey share an almost unanimous belief that the suitors should be put to death to pay for their crimes. When Telemachus informs Menelaos that there are suitors residing in Odysseus’ home, Menelaos responds “I pray he comes as once he was...If only that Odysseus met the suitors,/ they’d have their consummation, a cold bed!“ (Homer 4.371-372). Furthermore, when Athena advises Telemachus on how he should handle the suitors, she suggests,
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