While The Odyssey features Poseidon and the other gods largely guiding and punishing Odysseus, he does tend to bring about these outcomes through his actions. While he is a skilled strategist, often his pride gets in the way of sound strategy and he ends up making awful decisions to repair his ego. For example, his worst decision is fuelled by his pride; the decision to tell the Cyclops his name as he departs. He says that no one can defeat the "Great Odysseus," when, up until then, the Cyclops did not know his name. Having defeated and blinded the Cyclops, who is Poseidon's son, Poseidon then vows to get the gods together to thwart Odysseus' plans to get home, which is what causes many of the events of The Odyssey, and the deaths of all of Odysseus' men. This simple, unnecessary move, made out of arrogance, is what gets his men killed.
In the Bhagavad-Gita, dharma is important due to its status as the grand unifying force in the universe. It relates closely with one’s karma, which revolves around sacrificing time and energy for the Supreme, for doing things for others without thought of gaining on an individual level. "To action alone hast thou a right and never at all to its fruits; let not the fruits of action be thy motive; neither let there be in thee any attachment to inaction" (2.47). Actions taken must never be done purely for the sake of the self; at the same time, action must be taken if it is needed. Dharma does not allow the individual to shirk their responsibility to the whole, nor does it reward cooperative action for selfish reasons.
When someone achieves a completely purified sense of self, their actions are not "tainted" by selfish consideration for their own wellbeing. They merely do for others, their reward being that helping another self advances the greater whole, which includes himself. "The soul who meditates on the Self is content to serve the Self and rests satisfied within the Self; there remains nothing more for him to accomplish" (3). By limiting one's interest to the self, one removes their level of care for the results of their actions, and get closer to dharma in the process.
The Gods seem to have immense control over men in Metamorphoses. When Jupiter visits Lycaon at his house, only to face his potential murder, he chooses to set a flood upon humanity to punish all those who are not pious (which leaves all but Pyrrha and Deucalion). Lycaon’s choice to murder Jupiter shows that the gods can be killed, but Jupiter has the last laugh when he punishes all of humanity in return. The gods have total power over men; men are typically presented as foolish when they believe they can best the gods. The gods are incredibly immoral creatures, as they perform terrible acts on both humans and lesser divine beings (like nymphs such as Io). To that end, Ovid creates a narrative in which the gods hold sway over all beings, and they do not carry that responsibility with respect or humility.
In The Odyssey, women are depicted as much stronger than one might think – the women in the story are strong, confident beings no matter what side they are working for. The daughter of Zeus, Athena is responsible for Odysseus' journey in the first place - she had sent him to wander in order to punish him for the events in Troy - the temple was desecrated by one of his warriors. However, Odysseus finds a friend in Athena throughout the course of the book, as she steps in repeatedly to intervene on Odysseus' behalf and help him get home and save his life. Given that most, if not all, of the other gods do everything they can to hinder Odysseus in his journey, Athena's choice to help him is curious.
Athena's ability to disguise herself is part of her motif throughout the story, but she also manages to manipulate the appearance of others and the environment to suit her goals. In order to get Odysseus home, Athena also alters his appearance to make him more attractive to the Princess Nausikaa. In order to get her to help him, Athena comes to Nausikaa in a dream to inspire her to go to the river, and give her the strength to help the grimy and naked Odysseus. With this enhanced look, Nausikaa approves of him and helps him get home (Homer, 105). Meeting with Nausikaa's parents, Arete and Alkinous, Odysseus manages to disguise himself further by not revealing his name right away, as they simply do not ask him for it.
Penelopia, despite being relegated to the role of “doting wife waiting for husband to come home,” and is effectively just a goal for the main character, manages to maintain her own sense of cunning and deception. When all of the suitors come calling for her hand, assuming Odysseus is dead, she would constantly make excuses (including repeatedly making and tearing apart Laertes’ burial shroud) to avoid them. Even the other men remark upon “her head full of pride to think how Athena had been generous to her beyond all others, given her skill in beautiful work and good intelligence and cleverness such as never was heard of, even in the old stories” (Homer, 24).
In conclusion, the women of Homer’s The Odyssey remain strong and quick-witted characters. Athena is a powerful god who exercises her influence regularly, and is a master of disguise who helps Odysseus along her travels. Meanwhile, mortal women like Nausikaa and Penelopia manage to exert themselves in other ways, and display intelligence in the execution of their desires. To that end, the women of The Odysssey are surprisingly cunning and strong for the positions they are placed in within the narrative.
Homer. The Odyssey.