While watching a film or reading an interesting book, it might be hard to notice a pattern that every story seems to follow. A hero is living a normal life and then experiences something that makes him or her begin an adventure, meeting new allies and enemies. Still, the structure requires there to be a climax, usually an epic battle with very high stakes (UC Berkley). One of the essential parts of any story, however, is mentorship. Just like in real life, characters often need support from others who would inspire and give them advice. Helpers can play unique roles in every protagonist’s journey serving as teachers, mentors, or protectors. While both Athena in The Odyssey and Cinna in The Hunger Games series serve the main characters as mentors aiding them with whatever they can, Athena’s efforts are more tangible and straightforward, with Cinna being indirectly involved in Katniss’ rise to prominence as the symbol of an upcoming revolution.
The Odyssey chronicles the journey of Odysseus and his son Telemachus in the years following the Trojan War. Athena, the goddess of wisdom and battle, takes an interest in Odysseus and acts as a guide and a protector to both him and Telemachus throughout their journey. She inspires Odysseus, gives him strategic advice, and helps to plan the trip back home. Cinna, the District 12 stylist, is a friend to Katniss, who does not expect someone from the Capitol to be so caring and genuine. Cinna and Athena are crucial figures in the protagonists’ journeys because of what they symbolize. They are a personification of hope that not all gods are evil and snide, and not every Capitol resident finds it entertaining to watch kids fight for their lives.
The main difference between Cinna and Athena is the power imbalance between a goddess and a human whose hands are tied by the regime. Cinna’s help is symbolic and indirect; his designs establish Katniss as the ‘girl on fire’ and attract much public attention to her, including sponsors at the beginning of the story and rebels in the later books. Cinna was also the one who encourages Katniss and Peeta to form a media relationship asking them to hold hands during the Tribute parade and designing Katniss’ wedding gown for the interview. He has no real power, so he channels emotions through his designs. Athena, on the other hand, is a part of the Olympian Court and often influences other gods to help Odysseus and Telemachus. She is powerful enough to follow the protagonists throughout the entirety of their journey aiding them in every way possible, from convincing Zeus to send Hermes to Calypso to find the best ship and crew for Telemachus’ journey. Unlike Athena, Cinna gets killed when he tries to resist the Capitol.
Both Athena and Cinna are integral parts of the heroes’ journeys, but the nature of their aid is quite different. Cinna plays the role of an inspirational mentor, and Athena manages to combine her mentorship with the ability to protect the main characters. Cinna inspires Katniss and helps to create a symbol of hope and resistance out of her. Having more influence and power, Athena helps Odysseus tremendously and acts as a catalyst to the poem. While Katniss loses her emotional support after Cinna’s death, Odysseus and his son are lucky to have someone who can both inspire and provide them with direct assistance.
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