Concealment and Disguises in Homer's Odyssey

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Concealment and Disguises in Homer's Odyssey

Did you know, that although caves, and disguises play a small literal role in The Odyssey, are major symbols, and sometimes even considered archetypes? Sometimes when quickly reading through a book, one does not pick up on the symbolic interpretation of many images created throughout the book. A man named Homer wrote The Odyssey around 800 B.C. The story was a Greek epic poem, illustrating the struggle of Odysseys, the hero, to return home. He had gone to a war in Troy, leaving his family behind. Upon his return, his hubris angered the gods of Olympus, and they delayed his journey home 10 years. Throughout the story Athena, the goddess of wisdom, aids Odysseus. She intercedes for him on his behalf at Olympus, and helps him in his physical toils during his journey. While Odysseus was away, his wife began to be courted by the landholders and nobles of the area. These suitors plundered the house of Odysseus and angered his son, Telemachos, who then left to go looking for news of his father. In the end, Odysseus makes it home to his wife Penelope with the help of Athena, and his son Telemachos. Whenever Athena physically appears on earth to help either Odysseus or Telemachos, she usually appears in disguise as someone else. Throughout Odysseus' journey he also encounters several caves, which have not only a literal but also a symbolic meaning in each episode. The mysticism of caves, and the repetition of episodes with veils, concealment, or disguises, have a minor literal role in the book, but are of tremendous symbolic importance.

The symbolic value of the cave in Western literature originates in The Odyssey (Seigneuret 223). There are a few symbol...

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