The dramatic irony of Odysseus disguising himself as a beggar tells us a lot about his character. For one thing, it confirms his reputation as an incredibly cunning man, as we saw when he devised the novel escape plan for him and his men to get away from the Cyclops Polyphemus. Odysseus isn't all about brute strength; he's a very intelligent man who for the most part plans his next move carefully.
Having arrived back on Ithaca, the last thing Odysseus should do is to go dashing straight off to the palace to be reunited with Penelope and Telemachus. He knows that his home has been taken over by scores of unwelcome suitors paying court to his wife. So he has to come up with a plan to lull them into a false sense of security. And what better way of doing that than to disguise himself as a beggar. Odysseus is certain that the suitors will never imagine in a million years that a proud king like himself would put on the rags of a beggar, especially not in his own house.
Odysseus' disguise also...
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