Epithets as Connections and Contrasts
Epithets in the usual sense help to reinforce a character’s personality and in some way alert the reader to key aspects of the story. But Homer employs epithets to a greater degree, using them to connect and contrast characters. With a vast index of characters, these signals guide the reader to the important plots and themes. Themes including mythical deities benefit from this realism. The repeated use of epithets in Homer’s “Odyssey” serves to both highlight important character traits and ground mythological creatures in the mortal world.