Deception Odyssey Essay

Deception And Disguise In Homer’s Odyssey

Homer’s Odyssey challenges the common view on deception as employed only maliciously. Both a mortal, Odysseus, and one of the most revered goddesses, Athena, have the common noble goal of bringing Odysseus back home to his family after nearly two decades of absence. To achieve that goal, they mainly use deception and disguise in various forms that their physical and mental powers allow. Odysseus is famous for wittily deceiving others through verbal means, fact noted by Menelaus and Helen of Troy (Book 4). He even doubts Athena, as his own skills have made him doubt other’s honesty. Athena states after realizing Odysseus’s disbelief, “Would not another wandering man, in joy, make haste home to his wife and children? Not you, not yet” (8. 420-422). Odysseus wants to make sure that Athena gives him substantial evidence regarding his family and being back because “empty words are evil” (4. 891). After this exchange, when Odysseus knows him and Athena are on the same team, they use those skills to uncover the truth of matters or people’s character and return home.
From the beginning until the end of the Odyssey, Athena and Odysseus use physical disguise to ensure that justice and truth prevail. Athena uses her infinite disguising powers to change status, sex, and age and appear as the Mentor, a little girl, a “young man’s figure” and more (3.281). While all disguising instances are essential towards helping Odysseus go back home, the Mentor disguise seems to be the most important. In Book 2, Athena transforms into “Mentor’s form and voice” as a strategy to persuade Telemakhos to believe in his potential and pursue the journey ahead of him (2. 425). Mentor is in fact a person here, Telemakhos’s tutor and Odysseus’s comrade in battle. His name is not only suggestive of his wisdom and experience, but he is also in charge of the household as per Odysseus’ request until he returns. Thus, even physical disguise has at its heart critical thinking and mental deception, as Athena knows that the Mentor is a trustworthy person that Telemkahos will be receptive to. At the end of the Odyssey, Athena resumes the Mentor disguise again to persuade Odysseus to refrain from entering a big conflict: “though still she kept the form and voice of Mentor” (24. 614). Therefore, she uses Mentor’s appearance in both crucial instances, initiation and resolution, to accomplish her noble goal of bringing Odysseus home and ensuring a good aftermath.
Further, Athena does not only use these disguising and deception skills to appear as someone else; she also uses these skills to disguise Odysseus as a beggar to help figure out who he can trust and avoid being killed by the suitors (16. 558-560). After all, it would have been fruitless to overcome so many trials, some of his own making, to fail the last milestone of revenging on the suitors intelligently. Through the beggar disguise, he is able to discern who are his loyal and disloyal servants, Penelope’s loyalty and...

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Essay about Deception and Disguise in Homer’s Odyssey

1156 Words5 Pages

Homer’s Odyssey challenges the common view on deception as employed only maliciously. Both a mortal, Odysseus, and one of the most revered goddesses, Athena, have the common noble goal of bringing Odysseus back home to his family after nearly two decades of absence. To achieve that goal, they mainly use deception and disguise in various forms that their physical and mental powers allow. Odysseus is famous for wittily deceiving others through verbal means, fact noted by Menelaus and Helen of Troy (Book 4). He even doubts Athena, as his own skills have made him doubt other’s honesty. Athena states after realizing Odysseus’s disbelief, “Would not another wandering man, in joy, make haste home to his wife and children? Not you, not yet” (8.…show more content…

Thus, even physical disguise has at its heart critical thinking and mental deception, as Athena knows that the Mentor is a trustworthy person that Telemkahos will be receptive to. At the end of the Odyssey, Athena resumes the Mentor disguise again to persuade Odysseus to refrain from entering a big conflict: “though still she kept the form and voice of Mentor” (24. 614). Therefore, she uses Mentor’s appearance in both crucial instances, initiation and resolution, to accomplish her noble goal of bringing Odysseus home and ensuring a good aftermath.
Further, Athena does not only use these disguising and deception skills to appear as someone else; she also uses these skills to disguise Odysseus as a beggar to help figure out who he can trust and avoid being killed by the suitors (16. 558-560). After all, it would have been fruitless to overcome so many trials, some of his own making, to fail the last milestone of revenging on the suitors intelligently. Through the beggar disguise, he is able to discern who are his loyal and disloyal servants, Penelope’s loyalty and enduring love, and plan his revenge against the suitors methodically. Nevertheless, as seen above, Athena does have to make one ultimate effort at the end to stop Odysseus from entering an unnecessary and perilous conflict. As intelligent and deceptive as Odysseus is, he is after all a man with his own temper and flaws. Regarding gathering intelligence on the

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