The Odyssey

The Odyssey 23.183-204: Even the Strongest of Men Has a Weakness

In lines 23.183-204 of the Odyssey Odysseus is trying to prove to his wife that he really is himself, and that he is not a manifestation of a trick being played on her by the gods. Penelope has tricked Odysseus into betraying himself to her by telling a servant to move Odysseus's bed outside of the room. Odysseus becomes angered at this command because he constructed the bed himself and knows that the bed cannot be moved easily. Homer then has Odysseus give a monologue that describes how he constructed the bed. In these twenty-one lines Homer uses Odysseus's description of the construction of the bed to parallel the constitution of Odysseus's character and the events of his life. Homer's diction contributes to the allegorical characteristics of this passage while the tone of the passage portrays an Odysseus who is much different from the Odysseus of previous chapters.

From the very beginning of the passage, the tone in which Odysseus speaks reveals a more sensitive side to the brave warrior that Homer has written about in the Iliad and the majority of the Odyssey. When Odysseus says "What you have said, dear lady, has hurt my heart deeply" it is the first time that Odysseus proves that he really has...

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