Illustration of Odysseus tied to a ship's mast

The Odyssey

by Homer
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In Homer's Odyssey, who is the second character after the dog Argos to recognize Odysseus despite his disguise?

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Odysseus' loyal and faithful dog, Argos, still recognizes his master after all these years. The decrepit old hound is in a truly pathetic state as he lies on top of a gigantic, fly-blown mound of dung. He weakly wags his tail at the sight of his master before heading off...

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Odysseus' loyal and faithful dog, Argos, still recognizes his master after all these years. The decrepit old hound is in a truly pathetic state as he lies on top of a gigantic, fly-blown mound of dung. He weakly wags his tail at the sight of his master before heading off to the big dog pound in the sky.

Odysseus, still disguised as a beggar, heads off to the royal palace. The time isn't yet right for him to reveal his true identity; first, he needs to get the lay of the land before he springs into action and settles scores with the suitors. Penelope shows remarkable hospitality towards this "stranger," instructing one of her oldest and most loyal servants, Eurycleia to bathe his weary feet. Eurycleia is one of the oldest servants at the palace; she bathed Odysseus when he was a child, so she immediately recognizes him from the scar just above his knee which he sustained from a wild boar while out hunting with his uncle Autolycus.

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In Homer's Odyssey, after Odysseus returns to his native land of Ithaca, the first to recognize the returned master is the old dog Argos, who dies immediately after recognizing his master. This occurs at Odyssey 17.290-327.

The next recognition comes at Odyssey 19.361-475. In this scene, Penelope has had a conversation with the disguised Odysseus, who offers her some hope that Odysseus will return home. In gratitude, Penelope offers this "beggar" a foot bath at the hands of an old maidservant named Eurycleia.

As the old woman washes Odysseus' feet, "she immediately knew the scar Odysseus had received from a white-tusked boar" (A.S. Kline translation). Thus, she recognizes Odysseus and calls him by name. Odysseus stops her from telling Penelope, though, and makes her promise to remain silent for the time being.

 

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