Analysis of Odyssey’s Personality
The personality of characters in ancient Greek literature is a question for discussion. For a long period of time, it was considered that epic characters are flat and do not change significantly throughout the plot. Ancient Greek authors usually did not have a goal to describe deep, complex, and controversial personalities. However, nowadays it is possible to look at Odyssey from another point of view and to see the symbolism in his multiple metamorphoses.
Throughout the plot, Odyssey is changing his roles and faces. He pretends to be a merchant when gets acquainted with his future wife, Penelope. He changes clothes and names, learns many skills, such as magic, and finally comes to Ithaca as a poor man. The very name “Odyssey” can mean both “the one who hates” or “the hated one”, which already shows the two sides of this character. On the one hand, he hates, because he wants to kill the men who invaded his house and wanted to marry his wife. On the other hand, the name can be interpreted as “hated by the gods”. When Polyphemus tries to kill him, he tells him that his name is Nobody. This can be seen as the key to Odyssey’s personality. All of his journey can be regarded as the way to himself, an attempt to get a name and to get back as a new person.
Although Odyssey changes a lot of masks, he stays as much brave, creative, and cunning, as he was before. His resilience helps him to find the solution for the trickiest situations. Despite the difficulties, he does not become crueler and does not give in to temptations. Thus, on the one hand, he develops a lot of skills and gets new experience, but at the same time he stays true to himself.
Homer, Emily Wilson, trans., The Odyssey. New York: W.W. Norton & Company. Inc., 2018.