The Odyssey

Help with Book 13 Study Guide Question.

Why does Odysseus, upon meeting Athena (disguised), make up a story about his background and actions?


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Odysseus awakens, thinking he is in a strange land. Athena comes to him in the form of a shepherd and informs him he is in Ithaka. Odysseus makes up a story about how he came to Ithaka. Odysseus does not want the suitors knowing he has returned. Odysseus' penchant for quick-witted lying is rendered almost comical when Athena calls him on his made-up story. However, as she points out, he will need this skill to defeat the suitors and, in fact, she physically transforms him for his return - the most literal form of disguise we see Odysseus take in the poem.