The Real Odysseus

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Ivy Duggan
Dr. Lucas

The Restraint of a Mighty Beggar

One of the most entertaining passages I have read comes from The Odyssey when Odysseus is required to change his mentality to fit his disguise as a beggar. Throughout The Odyssey, Odysseus exhibits limitless power and as a result demonstrates fearless behaviors by abruptly acting however he feels. Examples such as Odysseus choosing to take his men to sail through and explore the land of the Kyklops, staying an entire year with his men on Kirke’s island for his own sexual benefits, and his immediate urges to boast or taunt his foes, all demonstrate Odysseus’ unrestrained actions. This list goes on and on which is why this particular passage is so amusing.

In order to regain control and protect the ones he loves, Odysseus has to follow a strict plan and act the part. He can no longer act on instinct and as a result, we see Odysseus face one of his most challenging trials.

The passage I am referring to begins with Odysseus disguising himself as a beggar in order to get on the inside where he can see the suitors and find out which members of the household have remained loyal. Odysseus calls on Antinoös to give him some food after he has begged and received from everyone else. After Antinoös’ refusal to provide Odysseus (Who remains disguised as a beggar) with any food, the beggar Odysseus insults him by basically saying, it’s a shame that Antinoös looks so much more lordly than he actually is. Enraged at this remark, Antinoös throws a footstool at the beggar and clips Odysseus on the shoulder. “Odysseus the Beggar stood firm as a rock and the blow did not even stagger him, but he shook his head in silence as he brooded on his revenge” (Homer 326).

After Odysseus first acts upon his egoistic instincts by insulting Antinoos for not providing him with food, Odysseus learns to humble himself and act not with what he feels but with what is appropriate at the moment. Although this trait...
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