Illustration of Odysseus tied to a ship's mast

The Odyssey

by Homer

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Odysseus as the "man of twists and turns" in The Odyssey


Odysseus is known as the "man of twists and turns" in The Odyssey because of his cunning intelligence and resourcefulness. Throughout his journey, he encounters numerous challenges and obstacles that require quick thinking and adaptability. His ability to devise clever strategies, such as the Trojan Horse, and his capacity for deception and disguise exemplify his complex and multifaceted nature.

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Was Odysseus a man of twists and turns in The Odyssey?

Odysseus has almost become a byword for a wily, cunning character, and the narration of the return to Ithaca and power of Odysseus only cements his reputation that is already highlighted by his exploits in The Iliad and his idea that brings down Troy. Note the number of times that Odysseus pretends to be somebody else or deliberately lies or disguises himself. He appears to be a character that is in love with deception and disguise, carrying on pretences long after they appear to be necessary, as was the case with his loyal swineherd on Ithaca, who it was obvious that he could trust. Odysseus loves weaving stories full of lies so much that even Athena herself comments on it. Therefore, I think we can safely say that your description of Odysseus as a "man of twists and turns" has definite merit.

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Which scene best exemplifies Odysseus as the "man of twists and turns" in The Odyssey?

Because the phrase pertains to his personality and overall reputation, no single event neatly encapsulates this description. Cumulatively, this reputation is built up through the many instances—each an individual twist or turn—in which he thinks quickly on his feet, makes up elaborate lies, disguises himself, and fools others so that he either escapes or gains some advantage.

One instance that shows his ingenuity is his manipulation and blinding of Polyphemus. Obviously at a disadvantage against the giant Cyclops, Odysseus quickly lies to him, saying only a handful of the men are shipwrecked there. Shut inside the cave, he knows that the men lack the strength to move the boulder away from the entrance, so he must use the giant’s strength. This means he cannot kill him. He is able to blind the drunk, passed-out Cyclops, who then cannot see them sneak out when he moves the boulder to leave the cave with his sheep. The wily Greek almost slips up, however; after telling Polyphemus that “Nobody” maimed him, he later admits that he is Odysseus, which later gets him into further trouble.

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