The gods also reward piety and punish disrespect and hubris (excessive pride). Human piety toward the gods takes many forms, such as sacrifice and respect for a divine property and offspring. Yet the gods are often unreliable in their assessments of human piety. It can take very little for a god to feel slighted, and the consequences are often unpredictable. Poseidon remains angry at Odysseus for blinding his son Polyphemus even after he punishes Odysseus repeatedly, but eventually decides to spare Odysseus’s life on a whim.
The emotions of the gods sometimes conflict, and the mysterious tugs and pulls of divine influence determine the fluctuations of justice on earth. The Phaeacians follow Zeus’s code of hospitality in welcoming Odysseus and speeding him home; but Poseidon (still sore at Odysseus) interprets their actions as a mark of disrespect, so Zeus joins him in punishing the Phaeacians for an action that should have pleased him. The outlines of divine justice align with a set of assumptions about human conduct, but the details are a blurry tangle of Olympian tempers.