Comparison of Characters in the Odyssey

Topics: Odyssey, Poverty, Homelessness Pages: 2 (743 words) Published: January 8, 2013
The True Test of Character
In Homer’s famous epic poem The Odyssey he displays the characters with a wide variety of morals. These morals influence decisions made by them which provide a looking glass for the reader to see their true nature. In a certain scene, the characters discuss Odysseus to what seems to be a beggar; however, the beggar is truly Odysseus in disguise. One way to clearly test a person’s character is through an idea provided by Bob Sutton: “The best judge of character is how he or she treats those with less power” (Sutton). Melanthius, Philoetius, and Ctesippus all are examples of how Sutton’s theory applies to people. Through making observations on how the selected characters act when speaking with the disguised Odysseus a solid conclusion can be made on their overall character. The goatherd Melanthius at first can appear mean and vicious; moreover, he remains loyal to Odysseus by disrespecting the person, whom he perceived to be a beggar. Melanthius is tired of seeing a beggar in the halls of Odysseus’ home and finally decides to confront him about it. “Still alive? Still hounding your betters, begging round the house? Why don’t you cart yourself away? Get out!” (20). Melanthius shows no sympathy for the seemingly impoverished beggar. He has no idea that the beggar is in fact his own master, Odysseus. He violates traditional Ancient Greek hospitality towards guests. When this scene is applied to Sutton’s theory, Melanthius’ character is revealed as harsh and vicious. The fact that Melanthius is upset with how suitors and beggars are intruding on Odysseus’ land may play into his stern confrontation with the lingering beggar. Melanthius has no way of knowing that the beggar was in fact Odysseus; therefore, he exposes his true character when he acts as though he is confronting someone of lesser power.

In contrast, when Philoetius, the good cowherd, approaches Eumaeus (the disguised Odysseus) he is extremely respectful. Although he has no...
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