Use Of Disguise In Homer's Odyssey

1080 words - 4 pages

The Use of Disguise in Odyssey

 
  In Homer's Odyssey, the use of disguise to help convey a false identity assists the characters in accomplishing their plans.  Without the use of disguise it would thwart Odyssey’s attempts at arriving back to his homeland.

Each disguise has its own individual purpose, for example Athene's image as Mentor to advise Telemachos.  The main intention being to assist and encourage Telemachos into searching for news of his long lost father without revealing her true identity of divinity.  Being old and wise, and more specifically male, enables Athene to place more power behind the words spoken by Mentor.  This is since men were received with greater influence and reverence than women were culturally and contextually. 

Similarly, Odysseus, through his clever use of false storytelling and disguises as a "nobody" and a vagabond, is able to safely return to Ithaka and slaughter the reckless suitors.

     “Fame and fortune is the ultimate goal of any man”(Van der Valk 61). 

One lives to strive for the best and conquer the world, metaphorically speaking to reach his highest potential.

 “Although not everyone can achieve such high status, if a man can conquer a feat thus similar, his name can be passed on and he will be immortal” (Van der Valk 63).

In Homer's Odyssey, the ultimate goal of fame and fortune entices Odysseus to disregard his morals by using cunning and trickery for lying and killing others, to ensure his homecoming to Ithaka.

First of all, Odysseus is deemed a hero in the eyes of the Achaians.  His intelligent mind renders him a heroic figure among his people.  Although he has killed many people, his actions are deemed justifiable because the suitors were "reckless" in their action against his household.  He is praised by Athene for his ability to quickly devise a false tale.  In the Achaian world, intelligence is more highly treasured then the hard working man.  Odysseus' aptitude makes him "godlike" and comparable to the immortals, and he even had opportunities to be among the immortals, as exemplified by Calypso's offer for eternal life and youth.  Despite the fact that he is cheating on his wife, an immoral act, Odysseus is still regarded as a great man; glorious and honorable. 

 Contrast to the modern American view of evil, Odysseus' blinding of Polyphemus is not an evil act, but rather one that is praised for its cleverness.  Odysseus' "nobody" trick has proved to save his life.  Although his goal was to survive, Odysseus abandoned his morals of honesty to accomplish the feat.  By identifying himself as "nobody", he fooled Polyphemus, but he also hid his true identity, which is lying and deceiving.  He actually degraded his manhood by disguising himself mentally.  Ironically, Odysseus escapes not as a manly warrior, but rather as a sheep.  After leaving the cave, he wants to redeem himself and his manhood.  Revealing his name to Polyphemus almost cost the crew...

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