Disguise and Deception The epic poem The Odyssey begins on Mt. Olympus. Athena brings to Zeus' attention that Odysseus' journey has been brought to a standstill on the island of Calypso. Athena then goes to Ithaca and assumes a disguise to convince Telemachus to go on a journey to seek news of his father. From the very beginning of the book Athena, an immortal, disguises herself as a mortal to relay news to another mortal. Throughout the book, the Gods disguise themselves as humans. This forced the mortals to show hospitality to everyone they came in contact with because they never knew when one could be a God.
There are many times Athena disguises herself for Odysseus' well being. One disguise she uses often is that of a mentor. As the mentor she helps orchestrate every part of the journey while Telemachus takes care of the household. Athena is Odysseus' guardian angel.
Odysseus' fate is to return home alive, however, it is his destiny, and punishment that he will endure and suffer this long journey. Throughout the poem, Odysseus prays to Athena that she will help him make it home, because he does not know that his fate is to make it home alive. Athena does help him get home, however she vows not to show Odysseus her real form until he returns to Ithaca.
Athena helps Odysseus when he returns to Ithaca, she disguises him with a cloud so nobody will stop him from getting to the castle. While at the castle, Athena at first disguises herself to try and convince him that he is home. Odysseus, however, believes that she is tricking him. She then keeps her promise of revealing herself to him when he returned to Ithaca, and she pledges her aid to him. Odysseus and Athena next decided to return Odysseus home disguised as a beggar. Odysseus meets Telemachus when he goes home and he is still disguised as a beggar. Odysseus begins to act as the beggar, however Athena changes him into a taller and younger looking man. Telemachus, when he sees Odysseus as the changed man believes that he is a god. Odysseus tries to tell Telemachus that he is his father but he doesn't believe him. He breaks out in wild disbelief; "no you're not Odysseus! Not my father!" Telemachus does not understand how Odysseus was just wrapped in rags, and then changed into a clean- young looking man. Odysseus explains that these changes are Athena's doings. "My changing so? Athena's work...she has that power, she makes me look as she likes, now like a beggar, the next moment a young man, decked out in handsome clothes about my body." Telemachus then believes Odysseus and begins to cry. Telemachus wanted to know of his journeys, and Odysseus tells him his story.
Odysseus uses the beggar disguise to his advantage. Everyone, including his wife Penelope and the nurse that raised him as a boy believes the disguise. Athena is still looking after him, however she is also planning to get Odysseus more enraged for his fight with the suitors. Odysseus used the beggar disguise to get into the house, and learn the character of the suitors.
Odysseus' disguise continues to help him characterize people. He enrages more of the suitors to find out which of them will be on his side. Next, Penelope challengers her suitors to string Odysseus' bow. Odysseus, using the beggar disguise, beats out the other suitors. When the fight of the suitors endures, Odysseus fights as himself, however Athena returns disguised as the mentor. She fights alongside Odysseus and slays many men.
Odysseus also uses this disguise to test Penelope's love for him. At first Penelope doesn't believe Odysseus so she tests him to see if he is true. She tells Eurycleia to move the bed out of the chamber so that he may sleep on it. At this, Odysseus becomes furious because he made that bed from an olive tree that was inside their house. He built their bedroom around that tree. After Odysseus tells this story, Penelope falls to her knees and embraces Odysseus. After Odysseus reveals himself to Penelope, the nurse bathes Odysseus and recognizes him from an old scar.
In the end, Odysseus speaks to his father in disguise. He is trying to test his father's emotions. When his father started to sob Odysseus' "heart shuddered." He went to his father, crying, and hugged him "Father-I am your son." Odysseus once again proves himself by revealing his well-known scar. The wound he took from the boar's white tusk on Mount Parnassus.
The poem The Odyssey is based largely on deception of character. Without all of the disguises, Odysseus would not have been able to infiltrate his house and learn of the characteristics of the suitors. Hospitality is also an important part of Odysseus' return. All mortals must treat everyone with hospitality because they do not know if the mortal is a god or not. The suitors, as well as Penelope were hospitable to the beggar for this reason. Using the beggar disguise, Odysseus follows his destiny and returns home to live the rest of his life in