In epics like The Iliad and The Odyssey many emotions are displayed and acted out on. The ancient Greeks were emotional people who were driven by anger and pride; however, they were kind people as well, showing compassion to those who were in suffering. Homer includes many instances of compassion throughout both The Illiad and The Odyssey; teaching his fellow man to be compassionate to one another. .
Ancient Greeks believed in giving their gods human characteristics, creating a deeper connection with their gods. The gods were displayed acting out and feeling human emotion, often toward mortals. Going along with this custom, in both The Iliad and The Odyssey Homer creates images of the gods exhibiting emotions. Although the gods are depicted carrying out vengeful acts on their mortal subjects, many times they are shown in complete opposite, acting out on feelings of compassion to mortal man. Homer begins both epics with a mortal's anguish invoking immortal compassion. The Odyssey begins with the gods in council. After witnessing Odysseus sobbing on Calypso's island; Athena implores Zeus to end Odysseus's suffering and allow him to return home. She asks, "Olympian Zeus/ have you no care for him in you lofty heart?" (Book 1: Lines 72-73 Fagles 79). Homer portrays Athena as being moved by the pitiful image of the great warrior Odysseus, later fully described, as crying and longing for his wife and home. Her compassion toward Odysseus in the epic helps to show ancient Greek listeners that suffering does not go unnoticed by the gods. Homer teaches the audience that sympathy from the gods may alleviate distress. Similarly in The Iliad, Apollo hears Chryse's prayers to return his daughter home. Homer narrates, "So [Chryse] spoke in prayer, and Phoibos Apollo heard him/ and strode down along the pinnacles of Olympos, angered/ in his heart- (Lattimore 60). Once again a god's, this time Apollo's, empathy eases the pain of a mortal.