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Especially throughout Books 6, 7, and 8 in The Odyssey, why doesn't Odysseus want to...

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whizkid457 | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 12, 2011 at 4:38 AM via web

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Especially throughout Books 6, 7, and 8 in The Odyssey, why doesn't Odysseus want to reveal his identity to anyone, such as Nausicaa and Alcinous?

This is not my homework or a test question. I am just curious and I couldn't figure out while reading.

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noahvox2 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted November 19, 2011 at 8:05 AM (Answer #1)

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Throughout Homer's Odyssey, Odysseus is very careful about guarding his identity. One reason Odysseus does not reveal his identity when he is in the land of Phaeacia is because the people of this country are good hosts. Part of proper hospitality in the Odyssey involves not asking a guest his or her name until the guest has been fed and offered other hospitality. One reason Odysseus does not reveal his name to the Phaeacians is because they do not ask him his name until 8.521-585:

"Tell us the name you go by at home, the name your mother and father, and the rest, in the town and countryside, give you."

A second reason that Odysseus does not reveal his name to the Phaeacians until asked is because prior to his arrival on Phaeacia, Odysseus has suffered much because of the revelation of his name. In Odyssey 9, which chronologically occurs before his arrival in Phaeacia, Odysseus' revelation of his true identity to the Cyclops allowed the Cyclops to put a curse on Odysseus, a curse that led Poseidon to attack Odysseus on the open sea, wreck his raft, and wash him up on the shores of Phaeacia.

Elsewhere in the epic, Odysseus is reluctant to reveal his identity until the time is right. As Odysseus learned from his encounter with the Cyclops, revealing one's identity at the wrong time can be extremely dangerous.

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whizkid457 | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 19, 2011 at 8:34 AM (Answer #2)

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Thanks, that makes more sense now.

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