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Who is Irus?

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Irus or Arnaeus is a character from the Odyssey. One of his primary functions in the text is transmitting messages for Penelope’s suitors. Odysseus returns home from his twenty years of wanderings. He dresses as a beggar, and it infuriates Irus. The character perceives disguised Odysseus as a threat. Irus fears that the new beggar will invade his territory.

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Greek mythology is rich with complex characters. They range from noble and brave to idle and cowardly. The Odyssey contains more than seventy versatile characters. Each of the characters represents specific values. Characters of the poem help to move the plot forward. One of them is Irus. He is a beggar from Ithaca. Irus was known in his hometown as a drunkard and a glutton. His real name, Arnaeus, was replaced by Irus since he was regularly running errands. In Ancient Greece, this nickname was associated with Iris. He was the gods’ messenger. Later he begins helping Penelope’s suitors. They occupy Odysseus’ home, believing him to be dead. At one point in the text, Irus meets Odysseus and confronts him.

After the Trojan war, Odysseus returns home dressed as a beggar. This trick allows the protagonist to evade the danger. Also, he can understand whether his people remain loyal to him. Irus perceives the disguised character as a threat to his territory. So, he starts insulting Odysseus, which leads to a brawl. Prompted by Penelope’s suitors promise to dine with them, Irus and Odysseus fight. When Irus sees that the man he thought to be a beggar is a skilled warrior, he becomes frightened. Fortunately, Odysseus decides not to kill Irus. It would interfere with his plan and cast doubt on his identity.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "Who is Irus?" January 28, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/q/who-is-irus/.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'Who is Irus'. 28 January.

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