The Element of Characterization
Characterization is a literary element that is used by authors to describe a character's personality traits and motivations. Characterization is accomplished by portraying a character's actions, speech or thoughts. Author H. A. Guerber develops the character of Pythias through each of these techniques throughout "Damon and Pythias."
Pythias' Character Development
In the beginning of the story, the author uses the lens of friendship to develop the character of Pythias. Pythias' friendship with Damon is a central element of his character, and this friendship is illustrated both through Pythias' actions and words and the observations of other characters in the story. Pythias' actions have earned him a reputation as a loyal friend, and his devotion to his friend is well-known throughout the community.
The accusation of treason against Pythias serves as the primary source of conflict in the story and works to develop his character in a meaningful way. Pythias proves his bravery and honesty with his willingness to stand up to the king despite the fatal consequences. Pythias' characterization up until this point is used to make his response to the accusations against him more believable. When confronted with death, Pythius responds with dignity and a determination to prove his innocence. When he fails at this, his thoughts immediately turn to ensuring that his family has what they need to survive after his death.
Pythias' character undergoes even further development when he is put through a series of trials that prevent him from returning to save Damon from taking his place in the execution. After finding a husband to care for his sister and providing for his mother, Pythias returns faithfully to Syracuse to face his punishment. While traveling, he falls victim to a band of thieves and is bound to a tree for many hours. Here, the author uses Pythias' attempt to free himself despite the fact that he has a reasonable excuse to avoid execution to develop his character in terms of bravery and resilience. Another trial soon follows in which Pythias is faced with a rushing stream he must overcome in order to proceed on his journey. He presses onward and nearly dies of thirst and fatigue in his effort to keep his promise to return to Damon.
In each of these examples, the author uses strong characterization to develop the character of Pythias. We see that he is a noble man who is willing to back his words of devotion and loyalty up with decisive action even in the face of death.