How does Odysseus test the loyalty of his subjects when he returns to Ithaca in The Odyssey?

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hilahmarca eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Homer's The Odyssey, it is imperative that Odysseus assess the loyalty of his servants and subjects before revealing that he is in fact home. Remember, by the time Odysseus finally arrives on the shore of his island home of Ithaca, it has been twenty years. Ten of those years was spent fighting in the Trojan War and the other ten was spent trying to make his way home. It took him ten years to make his way home because he angered the might god Poseidon by blinding his son Polyphemus, the Cyclops. After twenty years, a lot has changed. Suitors have taken over his house wanting to inherit his fortune and his wife Penelope. Odysseus has no way of knowing who has remained loyal and who has sided with the arrogant suitors. Odysseus needs to know if his kingdom is worth fighting for or if it is best to move on. Therefore, he must test his servants and subjects to find out this valuable information. The wily Odysseus does this by disguising himself as an old beggar, which was advice given to him by his guardian goddess Athena, the goddess of wisdom. By doing this, he can ascertain the answers he needs before proceeding any further.

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The Odyssey

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