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Essay about The Odyssey Disguise To Find True Identity

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The Odyssey Disguise To Find True Identity

Disguise To Find True Identity

The Odyssey is an epic that shapes and defines the roles of many great leaders. These leaders are made up of mortals, alive and dead, and immortals. The trip taken by Odysseus is not only a journey of a war hero back to his homeland, but is a journey in all of the characters lives, which develop a better sense of personal identity and selfhood as the epic goes on. It is the many disguises that each character uses that uncover their true identities from their experiences. The revelations of each characters identity are what teach the lessons that Homer is trying to portray to his audience, and what lead to each character’s success in their personal journey. Each character’s identity is constructed by the courage and morality that they reveal, through disguise, by their actions to help or prevent bring Odysseus home. These actions are what make each character who he or she is, whether god or human. Homer uses Odysseus and Athena as the principle identities developed throughout the poem to send his messages.

Homer proves Athena’s worthiness, as a goddess, with all her good deeds to get Odysseus home, protect Telemakhos, and return Ithaka to a flourishing city-state. In the world of Odysseus, one’s most treasured possession is his or her good reputation. One’s reputation is determined by how others view him or her, assessing his or her character, values, and behavior according to the prevailing social standards. As a goddess, disguising herself and others often is necessary for Athena to achieve her goals. It is through these disguises that her and Odysseus’ identities and reputations as great leaders and heroes become evident. She tells Telemakhos about Odysseus:

Well, I will forecast for you, as the gods put the strong feeling in me-I see it all, and I’m no prophet, no adept in bird-signs. He will not, now, be long away from Ithaka, his father’s dear land; though he be in chains he’ll scheme a way to come; he can do anything. (I, 244-249)

The first step towards getting Odysseus home is when Athena disguises herself as Mentes, who motivates Telemakhos to find his father and aide in his return. It is Athena’s revelation of divinity to Telemakhos that spurs his courage and determination that help him realize his dream of revenge. For at first, Telemakhos feels ...


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...uise, overcoming the opposing suitors. Later, Odysseus’ true identity is disclosed to the suitors and earlier to his son, Telemakhos, who is awed by his father’s presence appearing as an almost seemingly divine being. Yet it is just the great king that he was and will be again.

Although often through deception, illusion, lying, trickery, and pride, using pseudo-identities is imperative in achieving a developed sense of selfhood. Odysseus’ identity is shown to be a combination of the self-made, self-assured, virtuous man and the embodiment of the standards of his culture in Ancient Greece. It is also apparent in Homer’s time that with the gods on your side one can attain a complete moral sense of identity. Nevertheless, the help given to Odysseus by Athena does not detract from his glory, but rather adds to it, for it is symbolic of the qualities of mind, which enabled him to triumph against such odds. Therefore, her intervention is essential, but she allows Odysseus and Telemakhos to earn their own destinies. Odysseus grows in wisdom and judgment throughout his ventures in the epic, and his true self proves to be favored by the gods, and respected and admired by mortals.


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