The topic of disguise in the works of ancient authors is presented in different contexts and aimed not only at creating plot twists but also at using unique themes that were typical of that era. The works of Homer, Ovid, and other founders of the classical poem genre contain the ideas of transforming people, which serves as a technique for solving certain literary issues and contributes to revealing many subtopics. As an example of such poems, The Odyssey by Homer and The Metamorphoses by Ovid will be analyzed. The topic of disguise is used in both works and helps the authors reflect on how deep and diverse human nature is in conjunction with the plots of ancient epics.
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Comparison of the Authors’ Approaches
In the two works presented, the theme of disguise is presented most clearly and in detail in Homer’s poem. When the author describes the image of Odysseus, he more than once presents the main character as a person who is capable of various tricks and inventions in order to achieve the desired goals. Attempts to discourage opponents or hide the true essence are presented in the context of the riddle when the author writes the following about Odyssey: “… clad like a beggar, whom Eumaeus leads” (Homer 371).
In this attempt to conceal the identity of the character, Homer intentionally enhances the dynamics of tension and creates a plot that, primarily, may be of interest to readers. Such an approach makes the narrative more fascinating and extended and is evidence that the ancient Greek epic was the background for many subsequent literary works.
The concept of disguise in The Metamorphoses is not a unique but necessary technique that helps the author create the necessary effect and transform the plot in accordance with its mysterious nature. In one of the stories, Ovid cites the following words of the character: “… in this disguise to my own house I came,…” and such an option is found more than once in different narratives (233). This approach differs from that used by Homer and is intended not only to captivate the reader but also to maintain an atmosphere of mystery, which is permeated throughout the collection. As a result, disguise is an integral attribute of almost any metamorphosis, and the name of the work itself helps understand this concept.
Authors’ Intentions of Using Disguise
In both of these works, the use of the theme of disguise is designed to solve different problems. According to Natoli, Ovid resorts to this technique in order to reveal additional contexts, for instance, the relationship between the human and politics (124). Homer does not set out to convey hidden topics and, as Liang notes, applies the theme of disguise to make the story more vivid and convey the traits of individual characters (45). Thus, Ovid sets deeper goals and focuses on subtexts, while Homer makes the description of the life path of Odysseus more interesting and colorful.
In the context of the considered works related to the genre of the ancient epic, the use of the theme of disguise allows the authors to solve various problems and reflect individual motives. Homer’s approach is more superficial since he uses this technique as a tool to make the plot more interesting, and he does this more than once. Ovid, in turn, sets deeper goals and focuses on subtexts, reflecting human nature from different angles.
Homer. The Odyssey of Homer. Translated by Alexander Pope, Scott, Webster, & Geary, 1840.
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Liang, Meng. “The Making of Odysseus the Hero in Homer’s Odyssey.” International Journal of Applied Linguistics and English Literature, vol. 6, no. 7, 2017, pp. 42-48.
Natoli, Bartolo. Silenced Voices: The Poetics of Speech in Ovid. University of Wisconsin Pres, 2017.
Ovid. Metamorphoses. Translated by John Dryden, et al., Wordsworth Editions, 1998.