The Odyssey by Homer

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What are the different types of irony in Book 14 of The Odyssey?

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Book 14 of this epic classic deals with Odysseus' stay with Eumaeus, the faithful and loyal swineherd of Ithaca. Of course, one of the central aspects of irony used in this section is dramatic irony, for we know that the "guest" that Eumaeus is entertaining is actually Odysseus, yet this is something that Odysseus chooses to keep from him. It is also perhaps ironic that, in spite of the ample proof of the loyalty of Eumaeus, Odysseus chooses to tell yet another tale about his background, giving Eumaeus hope of exactly what he tells his guest not to give him hope of: the return of Odysseus. It is important to realise how the irony lies in many different levels at this stage: Odysseus is creating a tale that gives Eumaeus hope of the return of his long-awaited master whilst Odysseus himself is sitting with Eumaeus on Ithaca. Eumaeus, having heard this story, again ironically disbelieves the news he is given of Odysseus and his imminent return, advising his "guest" not to spread such lies in the future.]

Thus irony is present in many different forms and elements of this book, chiefly centred around the identity of the "guest" that Eumaeus is hosting and the tale that Odysseus chooses to tell his faithful swineherd.



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