How and When Does Eurycleia Recognize Odysseus in The Osyssey?

Updated 28 August, 2023
Eurycleia recognizes Odysseus by a scar on his leg when she washes his feet. The scar, a result of a boar's tusk injury from his youth, prompts her realization of his true identity. This poignant moment of recognition highlights their deep bond and foreshadows the unfolding events as Odysseus reveals himself to others.
Detailed answer:

In Homer's epic poem "The Odyssey," the moment of Eurycleia's recognition of Odysseus is a significant and poignant scene. Eurycleia, the loyal nursemaid who had cared for Odysseus since his infancy, recognizes him when she washes his feet.

The reunion between Odysseus and Eurycleia takes place when Odysseus, disguised as a beggar, returns to his home in Ithaca after his long journey and trials. While he is disguised, Eurycleia does not immediately recognize him. However, as she is washing the feet of the beggar, she notices a scar on his leg. The scar is the result of a boar's tusk injury that he had sustained during a hunting expedition when he was young.

As Eurycleia washes Odysseus' feet, she recognizes the scar and the truth dawns on her. In Book 19 of "The Odyssey," Homer describes the moment of recognition:

"Even as he spoke, she knew him by the scar upon his knee."

Eurycleia's recognition of Odysseus is a poignant and emotional moment in the narrative. It showcases her deep familiarity with him, as well as the bond that has been forged between them over the years. This recognition also serves as a prelude to the eventual revelation of Odysseus' true identity to others in the household and sets the stage for the climax of the story.

The scar on Odysseus' leg becomes a symbol of his identity and his journey. It serves as evidence that convinces Eurycleia of his true identity, and it also contributes to the gradual unveiling of Odysseus' return to his rightful place as king and master of his home.

In conclusion, Eurycleia recognizes Odysseus by the scar on his leg while she is washing his feet. This moment of recognition is a pivotal and emotional scene in "The Odyssey," underscoring the enduring bond between Odysseus and his loyal nursemaid. The scar's significance lies not only in its role in Eurycleia's recognition but also in its symbolic representation of Odysseus' identity and his journey back to his home and rightful place.

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