The theme of identity had served as a very important device throughout the story of The Odyssey. Basically, The Odyssey narrated the journey of Odysseus, known as one of the greatest mortal who played a very significant part in the Greek Mythology. His story started since the Trojan War period. But his golden period really began after the fall of Troy.
One of the key scenes which affect the journey of Odysseus towards his home was when he successfully played a trick on Polyphemus, son of the sea-god Poseidon. He attacked the creature. When Polyphemus asked to reveal his name, Odysseus said that his name was “Nobody.” Thus, in the midst of their fight, the creature had only shouted that he was being assaulted by Nobody. The Cyclopes then thought that nobody was attacking him hence they just ignored Polyphemus. He blinded the creature and declared that, “No one could beat him not even the son of the god.” Poseidon became so angry on Odysseus and swore that he would make it hard for Odysseus to go back home.
The second important part of the revelation of Odysseus’ identity was when “… he revealed himself to the Phaeacians after he was mesmerized by Demodocus’ narration of two poems which involved his own experiences during and after the Trojan War.” This was important to Odysseus because upon his revelation that he was the Great Odysseus, the Phaeacians promised to help him on his way home.
The third key scene was when Odysseus finally met with his son Telemachus. “Telemachus was with Eumaeus but Odysseus rather kept his true identity to the latter and only disclosed it with Telemachus” thinking that if others would learn about his return, he would have to spend more time planning on how he would be able to return to his home. Thus he decided that his secret should only be between him and his son. After that meeting, the father and son made plans on how to eliminate the abusive suitors of Penelope, Odysseus wife. This plan worked effectively enabling the two to kill all Penelope’s suitors. Thus, Odysseus had finally returned to his family and to his home.
Though Odysseus was regarded as one of the greatest heroes in the Greek Mythology, the themes of identity and the key scenes reported earlier seemed conflicting with how a hero was perceived during the ancient times. He became some kind of boastful and in a way conceited when he declared that he was so great that not even the son of a god could trample him. Another was when he became so emotional and was carried away by the poems of Demodocus. A hero was said to have a heart that was not easily bent. And the last one was when he planned to kill all his wife’s suitors secretly. This seemed to be a traitor’s workings for he did not declare any war against them but instead assassinating them clandestinely.
Homer. The Odyssey. Trans. Robert Faqles. Penguin Classics, 2006.