Concealed identity in literature and legend
This is the fast one,' said Miranda. 'Not many stops on it. You can shoot from one side of the network to the other on this one in no time.'
'Well, how many more stops on this theme do you need?' asked Quintin. 'It's really just disguise all over again, after all. And the Circle Line mops up loads more of these as well.'
'There is an awful lot of it to choose from, I agree. But there are some interesting ones here,' enthused Miranda. 'The medieval Arthurian legend of Merlin has him as a shape-shifter. He pops up here and there as a child, an old man, a warrior and a sage. And the line passes through Paddington, so we get Lancelot forever concealing his identity as well.'
'Well,' said Quintin, 'Norse mythology can boast many stories in which the gods conceal their identity. It was a stock-in-trade of Odin, after all. Loki became a salmon once. And at another time, a horse.'
'One of the Middle English Breton lais,' said Miranda, 'includes a father who has no idea that he is speaking to his son because the boy's mother has concealed his identity. And the boy's mother, Egaré, is really Emaré, who was sent off in a rudderless boat before washing up on a beach and concealing her own identity. Another Middle English Breton lai has a knight conceal his identity in order to look at a beautiful lady.
'Later in the story he disguises himself as a monk as well,' said Quintin.
'Just like in the Dionysian plays of ancient Athens, then,' said Miranda. 'The actors in Aristophanes play Festival-time conceal their identities so frequently, in the context of the plot as well as literally, that it is hard to keep count. And in Homer's epic Odyssey, the goddess Athene appears before people many times in the shape of someone else. She even disguises Odysseus so that he can enter his palace unrecognised.'
'Howling the Spectres flee: they take refuge in Human lineaments,' intoned Quintin, reciting from William Blake's poem Milton.