How does H. A. Guerber use characterization to develop Pythias in "Damon and Pythias?"

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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.

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How does H. A. Guerber use the literary element of characterization to develop the tyrant Dionysius' character in "Damon and Pythias?"    

Throughout "Damon and Pythias," Guerber uses the literary element of characterization to paint Dionysius' development from a cruel tyrant into a redeemed leader. Dionysius' growth as a character is rooted in his interactions with Damon and Pythias. In the beginning of the story, Dionysius sentences Pythias to death because of his egoism and paranoia. He allows Pythias to return home to settle his affairs as long as he leaves Damon in his place, but the tyrant does not believe that his original prisoner will return.

As the story progresses, Dionysius comes to admire and even envy Damon's devotion to his friend. Through their interactions, it becomes clear that Dionysius is lonely and disillusioned due to his social standing. This revelation makes him a more sympathetic character and hints at the personal growth he exhibits in the final act.

At the end of the story, when Damon is moments away from being executed in Pythias' place, Dionysius is shocked to realize that Pythias honored his word and returned to face execution. Up to this point, Dionysius has projected his own moral shortcomings and selfishness on Pythias, assuming that he will abandon his friend in his own self-interest. Dionysius is so moved by the loyalty and bond shared by Pythias and Damon that he has a change of heart and pardons them both, marking his final character transformation. In Guerber's version of this classic tale, Dionysius is moved by the power and depth of their friendship and it changes his entire outlook as a leader.

Throughout "Damon and Pythias," Guerber gradually develops Dionysius as a character. He begins the story as its primary antagonist and the narrative ends with his transformation into a man who is capable of mercy and humility.

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