Agnoēsis and the Death of Odysseus in the Odyssey and the Telegony

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Abstract

This essay explores the death of Odysseus in the Telegony and the Odyssey through the diction of agnoēsis (nonrecognition) and anagnōrisis (recognition). Agnoēsis is a motif in the stories of both Telegonus and the death of Odysseus, allowing the Odyssey’s presentation of agnoēsis to reference the Telegony tradition. Moreover, the deadly consequences of agnoēsis are inimical to the Odyssey’s vision of Odysseus’s kleos, and Odysseus’s death in the Telegony results in an alternative vision of his immortality. Examination of these contrasts between traditions sheds light on how the Odyssey negotiated dissonant elements from the Telegony tradition to enhance its own meaning.

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