Odysseus is a dynamic character because he constantly changes throughout the Odyssey. The hero’s character changes as he encounters difficult situations and unpleasant events. Odysseus’ personality, identity, and social status develop and evolve throughout the story.
Odysseus is the protagonist of the Odyssey. The epic poem was written by the ancient Greek poet Homer. The poem tells us the story of the Trojan War hero and the king of Ithaca. He is famous for his intelligence, wisdom, and courage. The Odyssey demonstrates how various events can make people change their identities or social status. Throughout the poem, the central character encounters multiple adventures and rivals. They significantly affect his identity.
At the beginning of the poem, Odysseus is presented as a faithful husband and a caring father. When Lord Agamemnon and Menelaos asked Odysseus to join the battle against Troy, he hesitated. But, ultimately agreed to go on a journey. On the one hand, Odyssey had to leave his family and his kingdom to fight against Troy. On the other hand, the Trojan War changed the character of a peaceful king. Twenty years after leaving home, he came back to Ithaca as a celebrated war hero. The events of the war transformed him into a courageous and cunning warrior. It turns out, Odysseus was the one who came up with an idea to build the wooden Trojan horse. That immensely helped to conquer Troy.
Odysseus changed his identity during his encounter with Polyphemus. When the Cyclops requested the warrior’s name, Odysseus called himself “Nobody.” This trick helped him hide his actual name and outwit the rival. When the hero blinded Polyphemus, the Cyclops said that “Nobody” hurt him. However, his pseudonym did not only serve as an escape plan. It forced the hero to leave behind his heroic past. He was not Odysseus anymore. The king of Ithaca became “no one” because of his anonymous, non-heroic escape.
The fight with Polyphemus helped Odysseus to realize that mind and wisdom were his best weapons. After his successful escape, Odysseus learned to adapt to the situations. At one moment in the story, Athena disguised him as a beggar. Due to the disguise, Odysseus lost his high social status as a king and warrior. He had to start his new life from being no one to become a noble king again. On his way back to Ithaca, Odysseus met his wife’s suitors and killed them. The event brought back his past identity. By killing the suitor, Odysseus represented the physical return of the hero.
When Odysseus returned to Ithaca, he experienced struggles with his family identifying him. Since Odysseus was gone for twenty years, Penelope assumed that he was dead. When he arrived back home, she did not believe it was him. Athena inspired Penelope to choose an arrow shooting task. The goddess knew that Odysseus would complete the task. With her help, the family accepted Odysseus. With her guidance, he regained his status of the king in the society, as well. She commands the people of Ithaca to accept Odysseus as a king. Odysseus’ homecoming to Ithaca brought back his true identity. By the end of the epic poem, Odysseus is not only a courageous warrior and leader. He is a peaceful and tolerant husband and father again.