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Identity This is the first in a series about themes in the Odyssey. Odysseus must find himself in his journeys as he faces temptation and terror at the hands of the gods. Meanwhile, Telemachus grows up lacking a father figure as the suitors devour his home. In both cases, Athena serves as mentor, protector, and link to the gods.
Both Odysseus and Telemachus must come to terms with themselves to be prepared to take back Ithaca, and it is this search for identity that dominates the epic. The epic begins in medias res, with Odysseus enduring the last legs of his journey home.
Athena initiates the resumption of his journeys by pleading with Zeus. When he is shipwrecked on Phaecia, he has already gone through his personal journey of discovery.
The audience views this journey through his flashbacks. We see him leaving Troy confident in his abilities and ready for a pleasant homecoming. Our first major character development is with the Cyclops.
He shows his resourcefulness and quick thinking as he saves most of his men from the cave, but blows the whole endeavor by revealing his name to the Cyclops.
These early encounters show a hero with exceptional abilities: He leads his men well under pressure and handles impossible situations with a calm and poise indicative of a hero. However he is unaware of his limitations and is plagued by recklessness, overconfidence, and pride.
They mature his heroic nature and serve as preparation for his return, where he faces the suitors raiding his house. While they deserve most of the blame, his lack of command is understandable given the previous mistakes he was the one that wanted to stay in the cave and the one who revealed himself to Polyphemus.
Major maturation scenes include the descent into the underworld and the navigation of Scylla and Charybdis. With the monster Scylla, he resists the tempation to steer away from Scylla, saving most of the crew. His encounters with Agamemnon, Circe, and Calypso teach him the value of caution, essential for his safe return to Ithaca.
But he has realized his limitations and gained caution. Where as before he may have charged into his home without thinking, he know waits and plans, conspiring with Telemachus and testing his household so he can fully cleanse his estate.
While Odysseus has spent the years learning restraint, Telemachus has grown up without a father and watched his house fall away as the suitors slowly eat it away.
Though he resembles Odysseus in looks and abilities, he lacks the resolve and experience of his father; indeed he is almost a polar opposite. Whereas Odysseus is overconfident and unaware of his limitations as a mortal, Telemachus is all too aware of his weaknesses and unable to tap into his potential.
Athena again initiates the development and journey. Here she takes the form of mentors to challenge Telemachus and catalyze his maturation. Telemachus begins to grow as soon as Athena intervenes. Though he is shot down, this newfound confidence worries the suitors enough to begin plans for his death.
He journeys to old war heros Nestor and Menelaus, who serve as role models for him. These men are shadows of Odysseus, just as experienced and wise; with Odysseus absent they become father figures that help Telemachus define himself. They give him advice to prepare for his return to Ithaca, but more importantly they act as reflections of Odysseus.
They provide a tangible picture of Odysseus that Telemachus has lacked. He has heard stories of his father since his youth, but here he has similar figures standing before him. Their reassurances that Odysseus is alive and their very presence renew hope in Telemachus and give him a reason to develop.
These experiences give Telemachus a new sense of purpose and a confidence he has never known. He is aware of his capabilities and is not afraid of the suitors when he returns.
He realizes that he alone cannot defeat the suitors, but he knows that he can hold them off until Odysseus can return safely. And return he does. Odysseus follows the lessons of his journeys, arriving in disguise, picking his moments carefully and testing the situation before acting.Odysseus proceeds to reveal his identity.
The characters test Odysseus' identity. There is a rise of emotions associated with Odysseus' recognition, usually lament or joy.
Finally, the reconciled characters work together. Omens. Omens are another example of a type scene in the Odyssey. The Importance of Identity in Homer's Odyssey Within the epic poem "The Odyssey", Homer presents the story of Odysseus's quest to find his home and his identity.
According to Homer's account, with its origin in oral tradition, the two quests are interchangeable, as a mortal defines himself with his home, his geographic origin, his ancestors.
Odysseus's identity is discovered by the housekeeper, Eurycleia, when she recognizes an old scar as she is washing his feet.
Eurycleia tries to tell Penelope about the beggar's true identity, but Athena makes sure that Penelope cannot hear her. Odysseus then swears Eurycleia to secrecy.
Odysseus was never in a position to doubt his identity, as if he had a bout with amnesia in a shipwreck. Therefore, he does not seek to find out who he is.
A better way to look at it is he seeks to reestablish his identity. Odysseus shows his shock at how Argos has been treated. He begins to cry at this poor treatment also.
Eumaeus explains how great of a dog Argos was as a young dog, and how he used to hunt and protect the house of Odysseus. Odysseus's return home is, in this sense, a return to his past heroic identity since, before his homecoming, he was separated by miles and years from home and family (separated from his fame).