Nostos In Homer's Odyssey

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Homer’s Odyssey is greatly concerned with nostos, the Greek word for homecoming. The tale follows Odysseus’ journey home to Ithaka, which is greatly affected by the choices made by the characters. Penelope and Odysseus in particular play a significant role in Odysseus’ quest for nostos. Odysseus uses deception and tricks in an attempt to assure his speedy homecoming, whilst Penelope does the same in order to avoid being forced to replace her husband. The couple occasionally thwart their own efforts, such as when Odysseus does not share with his men what the bag of winds contains and when Penelope is caught undoing her work on the shroud for Laertes. However, through trickery and deception, Odysseus is able to avoid having his whole crew, including …show more content…

Whilst speaking with him, acting as though she was sure it was Odysseus despite his appearance, she tells the servants to “put the firm bed [he built] here outside for him”. Penelope knows that her husband built their bed around an olive tree, incorporating it in the frame. As no one else is allowed to enter their chambers, only he could possibly know that the bed cannot be moved. Thus, her harmless trick allows her to identify her husband and secures nostos for Odysseus. He is so close to finally being home and once he proves that he truly is himself by passing Penelope’s little test, he is accepted by Penelope and has truly attained nostos.
Penelope and Odysseus’ use of tricks and deception are both a help and a hinderacne in allowing the former to avoid a second marriage and confirm her husband’s identity and the latter to attain nostos. Odysseus is wise not to tell his crew of Skylla, but should have divulged the contents of the bag of winds. Similarly, Penelope’s trick with the bed was harmless and successful, whereas undoing her work on the shroud has severe consequences when she is caught. As Homer’s Odyssey demonstrates, tricks and deception must be used wisely in order to avoid problematic

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