Odysseus Use Of Disguise In Homer's The Odyssey

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In Books Thirteen through Fifteen of Homer’s The Odyssey, disguises are employed in an effort to lessen the perceived grandeur of a character, unlike how disguises were previously utilized to glorify a character. Before Odysseus landed on his native island of Ithaca, Athena created disguises for her subjects in an effort to improve their demeanor and thus leave others wonder-struck so her subjects can influence others. For example, Athena “[…] lavished a marvelous splendor on [Telemachus]” (Homer 93) when he addressed the suitors, begging for their mercy while they ravaged the royal palace of Ithaca. However, once Odysseus awoke on the island of Ithaca, he deliberated with Athena about how to expel the suitors that were plaguing the halls of his palace.…show more content…
She shriveled the supple skin in his lithe limbs, […] dimmed the fire in his eyes, […] [and] turned his shirt and cloak into squalid rags, ripped and filthy […]” (Homer 300). Athena transformed Odysseus’ authoritative and powerful appearance into a helpless, powerless beggar to prevent the Ithacan people from recognizing his arrival. Athena created this physical disguise so Odysseus would have the opportunity to probe his subjects about the state of his beloved island from which, for twenty years, he has been isolated in a state of chaos and torment. This disguise further conceals Odysseus’ characteristics because during his journey to Ithaca, Odysseus often released bursts of overconfidence. For example, while Odysseus was fleeing from Polyphemus, the constant desire for fame urged Odysseus to reveal his true identity (Homer 227). However, Athena’s cloaking of Odysseus in the mask of a humble man juxtaposes Odysseus’ actual traits, and thus further develops the disguise. As he embodies his disguise, he is forced to forge the tale of his life, and to divulge falsified characteristics in order to protect his

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