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The Odyssey

The epic poem of Odysseus begins ten years after the capture of Troy in Ithaca, his homeland. In his palace a
large group of suitors have arrived and taken up residence to court Penelope, Odysseuss wife. She, however,
does not wish to remarry and makes them wait while her son Telemachus searches for just cause and a good
reason to banish them from their home. All the while, Antinous plots to kill Telemachus and remove his
opposition in the palace.
However, lost in the Mediterranean is Odysseus still trying to return home. Trapped on the island of Ogygia by
the nymph Calypso, he wishes to return to his family but does not have the means to as he has lost his crew
and ship. The Gods of Olympus continue to debate what they shall do about Odysseus, but Athena takes the
initiative to visit and help his son, Telemachus. She arrives and convinces Telemachus to censure the suitors
for their behavior and convinces him to travel to Pylos and Sparta. He learns while there that Odysseus is still
alive and trapped by Calypso. While Telemachus prepares to return, Antinous puts his plans in motion to kill
him.
Zeus finally decides to rescue Odysseus from Calyspos island and sends Hermes to convince Calypso to let
him leave. He finally sets sail home, but is quickly shipwrecked again by Poseidon, the God who he had
angered when Odysseus blinded his son Polyphemus, the Cyclops. Athena steps in to save Odysseus and
brings him to the island of Scheria where he is found by Nausicaa, Princess of the Phaeacians. He reveals who
he is to the King and Queen here and they immediately agree to help him return home. They first want to hear
his story though.
Odysseus thus describes the months of travel that led him to the island of Calypso and then to Scheria. He
begins with his trip to the Land of the Lotus Eaters, followed by the trip and battle of wits with Polyphemus,
Poseidons Cyclops son. He describes the time he spent with Circe and their love affair as well as the journey
past the Sirens and their tempting call. He continues to describe how he traveled to the underworld to speak
with Tiresias the prophet and the fight with Scylla, the sea monster. Finally, after his tale is complete, Odysseus
returns to Ithaca.
When he first arrives in Ithaca, he searches out Eumaeus, the swineherd. With Eumaeus assistance he finds
and reveals himself to Telemachus as well. They then begin plotting to take back the palace and kill the suitors.
Odysseus arrives at the palace as a beggar and is immediately treated poorly. His nurse, Eurycleia recognizes
him but does not reveal that she knows. Penelope also notes the beggars appearance and believes he might
be her long lost husband. However, she is not sure, so she puts together an archery contest, the winner of
which will be allowed to marry her. Whoever can string Odysseuss bow and fire an arrow through twelve axes
will be declared the winner. Only Odysseus was ever able to do so in the past. The suitors all fail before
Odysseus is able to accomplish the feat. He then turns the bow on the suitors and kills every one of them.

Finally, Odysseus reveals his identity and reunites with his family. He then visits his father Laertes and after
successfully repelling the angered families of the suitors he killed, Athena arrives and peace is restored to
Ithaca with the epic coming to a close.

The Odyssey Character Summaries


Odysseus
As the title character and cause for much of the play, Odysseus must fight a slew of angry Gods
on his return trip from the years-long attack of Troy. As the King of Ithaca, Odysseus misses his
wife Penelope and son Telemachus back home. He is incredibly intelligent and powerful, and
after a bad encounter with a Cyclops, draws the ire of Poseidon. However, Athena favors him and
ensures he succeeds.
Telemachus
Odysseus son and the Prince of Ithaca. He was a baby when Odysseus left for Troy and is now
twenty years old as the story begins. He does his best to keep the suitors at bay in his home but
grows angrier with age. He eventually travels to visit friends of his father and returns to help his
father remove the suitors.
Penelope
Odysseuss wife and the Queen of Ithaca. Penelope tries her best to keep the suitors at bay while
she awaits her husbands return. She uses the excuse of finishing Laertes funeral shroud and
unraveling it every night to make them wait.
Athena
The daughter of Zeus and representative of wisdom and intellect as a Goddess. Athena helps
Telemachus and Odysseus throughout the poem, constantly speaking for him on Olympus and
lending help on Earth.
Poseidon
As the God of the Sea, Poseidon takes on the role of the divine enemy when Odysseus blinds
Polyphemus, Poseidons Cyclops son. He takes it upon himself to thwart his return journey to
Ithaca, eventually shipwrecking him multiple times.
Zeus
As the King of the Gods, Zeus is the mediated voice of Olympus and must ultimately decide
whether Odysseus shall be permitted to return. He occasionally allows such help by Athena.
Antinous
He is the figurative leader and most obnoxious of Penelopes suitors, ultimately plotting to have
Telemachus killed. He is the first and most angrily killed when Odysseus takes his revenge.
Eumaeus

The swineherd who helps Odysseus when he first returns to Ithaca, helping him get back into his
Palace and reunite with Telemachus. He does not at first realize that the beggar is Odysseus, but
offers him food and shelter anyways.
Eurycleia
The elderly nurse for both Odysseus and Telemachus. She knows of everything that happens in
the Palace and offers advice to the King and Prince constantly. She helps Telemachus visit
Sparta and keeps Odysseuss secret when he arrives as the beggar.
Calypso
The nymph and purveyor of Ogygia, the island where Odysseus is stranded at the start of the
epic. She is able to keep him there for seven years before Hermes finally arrives and makes her
release him.
Polyphemus
Shortly after leaving Troy, Odysseus arrives on the island of Polyphemus, a Cyclops and son of
Poseidon. After he tries to capture Odysseus and his crew and eat them, Odysseus is able to trick
and blind the Cyclops, enraging Poseidon.
Circe
Circe is a witch and goddess who turns the crew into a herd of swine before taking Odysseus as
her lover and having him by her side.
Laertes
The decrepit, elderly father of Odysseus, Laertes lives just outside the Palace on a farm in Ithaca
and offers advice to his grandson. When Odysseus returns, he regains much of his earlier energy
and helps to kill Antinouss father.
Tiresias
Odysseus travels to the underworld and meets with Tiresias, the prophet to gain insight into his
return journey to Ithaca and how he should approach it.
Agamemnon
The story of Agamemnon, told in the Illiad is retold when Odysseus travels to the underworld and
meets his spirit. He was murdered by his wife and her lover when he returned from Troy, offering
an inverted version of Odysseuss current plight.
Nausicaa
The Princess of the Phaeacians, Nausicaa is the one who finds Odysseus when he shipwrecks
on Scherias. She ensures that he is welcomed by her parents and helped after he gives his story.

The Odyssey Book


Summaries
Book 1
The epic begins with the invocation
of the Muses, requesting inspiration
and the beginning of Odysseuss
story. Its been 10 years since the
conclusion of the Trojan War and
everyone but Odysseus and his
comrades has returned from their
service in Troy. Due to their
devouring of Hyperion the Sungod's oxen, his comrades are now
dead and Odysseus is stuck on the
island of Ogygia with Calypso, a
besmirched nymph, Odysseus still
yearns for his wife and home. Back
in Ithaca, Odysseuss home,
Penelope sits waiting for Odysseus
to return while fending off a palace
full of suitors for her hand in
marriage. Telemachus, hers and
Odysseuss 20 year old son, can do
nothing to help and has finally come
to believe that Odysseus is dead.
Athena eventually goes to Ithaca to
talk to Telemachus. She tells him, in
disguise as Odysseuss friend
Mentes, that Odysseus is still alive
and will soon return. She also tells
Telemachus that he should gather
and have the suitors banished from
the Kingdom. She then advises him
to visit Pylos and Sparta to discern
as much as he can about his father.
After Athena departs, Telemachus
sees his mother with the Suitors,
upset by a particular bards song.
The song itself is a tale of despair
for those that have returned to
Greece. Telemachus however, tells
her that she should not be upset by

the song, as other men have failed


to return from Troy and that she can
always leave if she does not enjoy
the music; he can deal with the
suitors. He announces to the suitors
that he will hold an assembly the
following day and that he expects
them all to leave the estate.
Antinous and Eurymachus are
unhappy with the announcement
though and demand to know who
Telamachus was talking with, to
which Telemachus only responds
that it was a friend of his fathers.
Telemachus is guided by Eurycleia,
daughter of Ops and granddaughter
of Peisenor, to his room where he
retired to plan his journey

Book 2
The next day, as Telemachus calls
the assembly, an elder of Ithaca
praises Telemachus for his actions
as there has not been a single
assembly since Odysseus left.
Telemachus follows with a speech
that decries the suitors for taking
over his fathers home and mourns
the loss of his father. He speaks
against their rampant use of the
palaces food and wine and rebukes
them for not simply going to Icarius,
Penelopes father, to ask for her
hand.
In response, Antinous places the
blame at the feet of Penelope for
seducing them all but not
committing. He describes her use of
the burial shroud for Laertes to
extend her decision. She declared
that she would choose a husband
after finishing, but every night she
would unravel the shroud so as she

never completed it. Antinous


declares that she should be sent to
Icarius so as he can choose a new
husband for her. Telemachus
responds violently, declaring he will
never throw his mother out and that
the Gods must punish those suitors
who wish such a thing upon her. At
that moment, a pair of eagles
appears above and fight, a sign that
the soothsayer reads as meaning
Odysseus will soon return and
massacre the suitors. They declare
such a warning foolish though and
continue to rebuke Telemachus.
Athena arrives once more while
Telemachus is preparing to leave for
Pylos and Sparta and gives him
encouragement for the ensuing
journey. She helps him gather a
crew for his ship and Telemachus
departs without telling any of his
servants or his mother.

Book 3
When Telemachus and Mentor
arrive in Pylos, they witness a ritual
sacrifice of twelve bulls to Poseidon
and though he is unsure of himself,
Mentor gives Telemachus
encouragement to go forward and
speak with Nestor about Odysseus.
Nestor has no news to relay though
and recounts the fates of
Agamemnon and Menelaus after
the fall of Troy. The two broke apart
after an argument and went their
separate ways, Nestor with
Menelaus and Odysseus with
Agamemnon. He speaks kind words
for Telemachus but cannot offer any
more information about Odysseus.

He does however explain more


about what happened to
Agamemnon. After returning from
Troy, he finds Aegisthus who had
remained in Greece while everyone
went to Troy married to his wife,
Clytemnestra. The two plot and
carryout the murder of Agamemnon
and attempts to take over the
kingdom. Orestes however returns
from exile and takes revenge
against both Aegisthus and
Clytemnestra. Nestor compares
Orestes situation to that of
Telemachus and sends Pisistratus
along with Telemachus to Sparta to
beseech Menelaus for more
information. Athena then reveals
herself as a goddess and remains
behind in Pylos to protect
Telemahuss crew and ship.

Book 4
When Telemachus and Pisistratus
arrive in Sparta, they find Menelaus
and Helen celebrating the
marriages of their son and daughter.
The King and Queen hold a feast
hat night and recount for
Telemachus the many instances of
Odysseus cunning during the war.
Helen recounts the time when
Odysseus dressed as a beggar and
infiltrated Troy and Menelaus
describes the final victory of the
Trojan Horse, masterminded by
Odysseus himself. The next day,
Menelaus describes how he
returned from Troy. He was trapped
in Egypt for a time and was forced
to capture Proteus, the Old Man of
the Sea who then gave him the
directions back to Sparta as well as
revealing the fates of Agamemnon

and Ajax. Ajaxs own fate was


similar to how Agamemnon finally
returned home, only to be killed.
Proteus also reveals to Menelaus
that Odysseus is imprisoned on the
island of Calypso and has been for
years. Telemachus and Pisistratus
take this information and return to
Ithaca. Back in Ithaca, the suitors
begin to plot the assassination of
Telemachus. A herald overhears the
plot and reports it back to Penelope
who becomes distraught. However
Athena sends her own message to
Penelope and relays that
Telemachus has the goddesss
protection.

Book 5
Back on Olympus, the gods
convene without Poseidon to
discuss what shall be done with
Odysseus. Athena is able to
convince Zeus to step in and so
Hermes is dispatched to Calypso to
inform her that Odysseus must be
allowed to leave. She is unhappy,
railing against the male gods of
Olympus for their selfishness and
hypocrisy. She does eventually
relent though as it is by the decree
of Zeus. Odysseus is alone with his
crew and ship both long since
destroyed after leaving Troy.
However, with Hermes interjection,
he is finally permitted to build a new
boat and prepare it for his final
voyage home.
After leaving, Odysseus spends
only eighteen days at sea before
spotting Scheria, the location
pointed to him via Hermes by the

gods. Poseidon has returned


though from his trip to Ethiopia and
sees that the other gods have
helped Odysseus escape Calypso.
In retaliation he sets a storm upon
Odysseus and attempts to drown
him. Ino arrives and saves
Odysseus, bestowing upon him a
veil meant to keep him safe from
the sea after the ship sinks. With
Athena also at his side, Odysseus is
able to survive the storm and
eventually fights his way to shore
and the forest of Scheria. After
tossing Inos veil back into the
water, he is finally safe from
Poseidon.

Book 6
Athena appears in the dreams of
Nausicaa, Princess of the
Phaeacians as one of her closest
friends. She coaxes Nausicaa to
visit the river the following day and
wash her clothing so that the men
courting her will find her more
attractive. She does as informed
and while she and her maids are
naked and playing beside the river,
Odysseus awakes and encounters
them. He himself is naked, but does
not reveal his true identity, instead
taking the time to clean the dirt and
muck from the ocean clean. Athena
imbues him with exceptional
physical appearance and Nausicaa
begins to fall in love with him upon
seeing him once more. She informs
Odysseus that he must approach
the palace on his own so as not to
draw attention to her bringing a man
back with her to the city. She
informs him to approach Arete, her

mother and the Queen and gives


him instructions on how to do so.

Book 7
On the trip to the palace to meet
with the King and Queen of the
Phaeacians, Odysseus encounters
Athena, in disguise as a young girl.
She protects and hides him from the
populous and guides him to the
Palace. She tells him to ask for help
from Arete and not Alcinous, the
King as she is kind and wise and
will help him. She then leaves
Scheria to return to Athens.
When Odysseus arrives, he finds
the palace worshipping Poseidon in
a festival designed for him. He
notes the beauty and
excessiveness of the Palace and
the Kings celebration and as
Odysseus enters, the King himself
questions whether or not Odysseus
might be a god. However, Odysseus
relates that he is indeed a mortal
and with a bit of explaining is able to
describe his situation without
revealing his identity and secure a
promise of assistance from the King
and Queen; they will help him return
home the following day.
That evening, Arete finally
recognizes Odysseuss clothing as
belonging to her daughter, Nausica
and questions him more regarding
his identity. He still keeps his name
to himself, but relays his story of the
journey from Calypso to the
beaches of Scheria and Nausicaa
that morning. Odysseus calmly
takes responsibility for arriving at
the palace alone and does not give

away any of what Nausicaa said or


did, eventually impressing Alcinous
enough for him to offer her hand to
Odysseus in marriage.

Book 8
The following day, an assembly of
the Phaeacian counsel is called with
Athena ensuring maximum
attendance by carrying word to
each counselor of the visitor to the
island who appears as a god.
Alcinous presents his plan to offer
Odysseus a ship to return home
and the counselors agree, after
which everyone convenes at the
Palace for a feast and games in
honor of their incredible guest. A
bard relays the story of Odysseus
and Achilles quarrelling in Troy,
causing Odysseus to weep in
memory of those horrendous times.
The king, noting Odysseuss
response ends the meal and
announces the commencement of
the games.
At first unwilling to participate
because of the physical strain of his
journeys, Odysseus is goaded into
participating in the discus throw by
a young athlete jabbing at his
abilities. Overcome by pride,
Odysseus out throws everyone and
challenges the rest of the
Phaeacians to any sport they might
choose. Eventually, before anyone
else can become upset, Alcinous
announces that they shall have
another feast with further song and
dance. The bard sings this time a
tale of gods and goddesses in love
instead. After the feast, the
Phaeacians offer their gifts to

Odysseus to return home with.


Later that night when Odysseus
requests a song about the Trojan
Horse and the end of the war, he
eventually loses control of his
emotions again, prompting Alcinous
to demand he reveal his name and
purpose.

Book 9
Without much of a choice,
Odyseeus relents and begins to tell
his story. After first setting sail from
Troy, they arrived at the home of the
Cicones, Ismarus. They plunder the
city but ultimately spend too much
time there as the Cicone forces
return and chase them back to their
ships, killing almost six men per
ship. After a storm that lasts for nine
full days, they arrive in the Land of
the Lotus Eaters.
Upon landing, Odysseuss men are
offered fruit by the Lotus Eaters and
immediately fall victim to the
intoxicating effect of it. They refuse
to leave and eventually are taken
back to the ship by Odysseus by
force. When they finally leave the
Land of the Lotus Eaters, the men
securely locked up, they arrive soon
in the land of the Cyclops. It is here
that they encounter a herd of wild
goats. However, eventually they
decide they will cross the straight
and visit the main land to acquire
more supplies.
While on the main land, they
discover a large supply of sheep,
milk and cheese in a large cave.
The men urge Odysseus to hurry
but they spend a bit too long in the

cave and Polyphemus, the caves


resident returns and immediately
eats two crew members and
imprisons the rest for future meals.
Trapped behind the giant rock
blocking the entrance, Odysseus is
forced to think of a plan to escape.
He waits for Polyphemus to leave
the cave and finds a particularly
good piece of wood to temper in the
fire, hardening it. When
Polyphemus returns with his flock,
Odysseus uses the wine they
brought with them to get him drunk.
While drunk, Polyphemus inquires
of Odysseuss name, to which
Odysseus responds Nobody.
Shortly afterwards, Polyphemus
collapses under the effects of the
wine and Odysseus and his men
attack with the staff, blinding the
Cyclops. When he calls for help, all
he can say is Nobody is killing me,
forcing the other Cyclops to
abandon his strange cries for help.
The following day, the men cling to
the bottom of the sheep and leave
the cave when Polyphemus leads
them out. They steal the sheep and
as they are departing, Odysseus
calls his name back to the Cyclops.
With Odysseuss name in hand,
Polyphemus calls for his father,
Poseidon, to curse Odysseus at
sea.

Book 10
The next stop for Odysseus and his
men is the land of Aeolus, keeper of
the winds. He offers Odysseus the
gift of a bag, containing all of the
winds. He then stirs up the Westerly
wind to guide them home. After only

10 days, they are within sight of


Ithaca. However, because the men
are greedy, they tear open Aeoluss
bag, thinking it contains gold and
silver. The winds, loosened as they
are, form a terrible storm and blow
the ships back to Aeolus who then
refuses to help him as he believes
them to be cursed by the gods.
Without the winds to guide them,
Odysseus and his men row to
Laestrygonia, the home of giants
who immediately kill and eat
Odysseuss scouts. The
Laestrygonians toss boulders
towards the ships and sink them,
leaving only Odysseuss ship to
escape in. After barely escaping,
Odysseus and his men arrive in
Aeaea where the witch-goddess
Circe lives.
She immediately turns Odysseuss
men into pigs. Odysseus is given
advice by Hermes to eat an herb
known as Moly to protect him from
the spell and that when she draws
her sword, he should lunge towards
her. After defeating Circe and
forcing Circe to return his men to
human, Odysseus becomes Circes
lover, living on Circes island for
more than year in absolute luxury.
The men finally convince Odysseus
to leave though and Circe offers
instructions that will send Odysseus
to Hades to speak with Tiresias, the
blind prophet, to learn the way
home.
When they awake and prepare to
leave the following morning,
Odysseus learns that yet another of
his men has perished, having fallen

from the roof after drinking too


much and breaking his neck. The
remaining men are not happy about
the news that they will be traveling
to the underworld instead of directly
home.

Book 11
Odysseus travels with his men to
the river of Ocean in the Land of the
Cimmerians to perform the
necessary tasks outlined by Circe to
reach the land of the dead. He
pours his libations and offers
sacrifices designed to attract dead
souls and eventually is able to
reach and speak with the young
crewman who fell from Circes roof.
He begs for Odysseus to return and
properly bury his body. Next, he
speaks to Tiresias the Prophet, who
relates the reason for their poor
luck. Poseidon is angered by the
blinding of Polyphemus and
impedes Odysseuss return. He
offers his vision of the future to
Odysseus, that he will eventually
return home to his wife and son. He
also warns Odysseus that he must
not touch the flocks of the Sun in
Thrinacia or he will suffer greater
hardship and lose his crew. After
Tiresias departs, Odysseus speaks
with his mother, Anticleia. She
relates the current state of affairs in
Ithaca and how she died in grief
waiting for him to return. He speaks
with numerous other perished
heroes while in the underworld.
After attempting to end his story and
sleep, Odysseus is pressed on by
the Phaeacians to relay if he met
with any of the great Greek Heroes

who fell in Troy. Odysseus relays


his meeting with Agamemnon who
relates his murder at the hands of
his wife Clytmenestra. He also
meets with Achilles who asks after
his own son, Neoptolemus. He also
attempts to contact Ajax, the warrior
who killed himself after failing to win
a contest with Odysseus to retain
the arms of Achilles. He mentions
that he saw Heracles, King Minos,
Orion and many other great Greek
heroes.
He describes Sisyphus pushing his
boulder up the eternal hill and
Tantalus, eternally punished with
hunger and thirst, surrounded by
water and tempted by grapes. He is
eventually rushed by the many
souls wishing to learn more about
the living world and is forced to flee
for his ship, sailing away
immediately.

Book 12
Following his return from the Land
of the Dead, Odysseus returns to
Circes island and buries his dead
crew member. She offers advice for
the remainder of his trip on how to
handle the ensuing trials as well.
The first trial turns out to be the
Sirens. Odysseus has each of his
men plug their ears with bees wax
and then tie him down to the mast
of the ship and hold him there no
matter what. Despite their calls,
Odysseus is able to withstand the
Sirens with the help of his crew.
The next trial is the straight of Scylla
and Charybdis. Here, they

encounter the six-headed monster


Scylla, who will eat one crew
member for each of its six heads.
On the other side is Charybda, the
infamously dangerous whirlpool that
takes any ship foolish enough to
come within range. According to
Circes advice, they navigate
towards Scyllas lair and are forced
to sacrifice six men to survive the
straights.
Finally, they arrive in Thrinicia,
where they encounter the Cattle of
the Sun. Despite his desire to move
on, his men convince Odysseus to
stop and rest on the Island of the
Sun. After a full month of waiting out
storm after storm, the men begin to
exhaust their rations and decide
they would like to kill and eat the
Cattle on the island. Against
Odysseuss orders, they wait until
he is asleep and slaughter the
Cattle for food. The Sun is enraged
and asks Zeus for assistance in
punishing Odysseus and his men.
After they leave the island, Zeus
does just that by throwing a storm
toward them that immediately sinks
the ship and kills every man aboard
except Odysseus. It is after this
ordeal that he eventually makes his
way, aboard flotsam from his
sunken ship, to Calypsos island
where hell spend the next seven
years.

Book 13
The next day, after having
completed his tale, Odysseus
prepares to leave for Ithaca.
Alcinous loads the gifts from the
night before onto the ship Odysseus

will use and the next day Odysseus


sets sail with a full Phaeacian crew.
He sleeps on the ship until he
arrives at Ithaca, where the
Phaeacians unload him and his gifts
on shore before sailing home.
Poseidon, however, is unhappy that
the Phaeacians, a people who
traditionally worship him, would help
someone he so dislikes. For that
reason, he takes his vengeance
upon them by waiting for the ship to
arrive in Scheria and turning it to
stone, sinking it to the bottom of the
harbor. The Phaeacians recall a
particular prophecy warning them
against helping strangers and
decide never to help a traveler
again.
Odysseus awakes and finds himself
in a strange land. Though he is in
Ithaca, Athena keeps it hidden until
she is sure what to do next. He is at
first angry at the Phaeacians, but
Athena arrives in the disguise of a
shepherd and tells him he is in
Ithaca. After a game of wits with
Athena over their identities, Athena
relays that he must use his
intelligence to punish the suitors
who have been misusing his home
and wife. She tells him to seek out
Eumaeus and take refuge in his hut.
She also relays news of
Telemachus and disguises
Odysseus as a beggar to keep his
identity a secret.

Book 14
Upon approaching his hut,
Odysseus finds Eumaeus who
invites him inside for a meal of pork.

Eumaeus recalls the glory days of


his old master, who he worries is
long dead and gone, and speaks ill
about the suitors who have turned
the once proud Palace into a horrid
place. Odysseus pretends to predict
the return of Eumaeuss old master,
but Eumaeus grows wary as many
beggars have arrived trying to get a
hot meal by offering news of
Odysseus to Penelope. Eumaeus
likes the beggar though and offers
him a cloak and a place to sleep.
Odysseus then relates the lie that
he is from Crete and was at
Odysseuss side in Troy before
returning home. However, a later
trip to Egypt proved fatefully bad
and he became the beggar that
Eumaeus sees in front of him. He
reveals that during the trip to Egypt
he heard Odysseus was alive.

Book 15
In Sparta, Athena arrives to find
Telemachus and Pisistratus asleep
in the palace of Menelaus. She
relays to Telemachus that he must
hurry home to deal with the suitors
and warns him of the plot to
assassinate Telemachus when he
returns and how to avoid it. She
tells him to seek out Eumaeus when
he returns who will relay his return
to Penelope.
When Telemachus is preparing to
leave the following day an eagle
appears with a goose in its claws, a
sign that Helen interprets as the
return and triumph of Odysseus.
Telemachus arrives back in Pylos
and immediately returns to his ship,
stating that he has no time to spend

with Nestor. The descendent of a


prophet, Theoclymenus, who is
pursued by the law for a crime
committed in Argos, arrives and
requests passage with Telemachus,
who offers him ample hospitality.
Eumaeus refuses to allow
Odysseus to leave and seek
employment with the suitors,
instead offering his own further
hospitality. They continue to swap
stories. Eumaeus describes how he
first arrived in Ithaca. He describes
how he was kidnapped by pirates
and sold to Laertes, and eventually
raised by Odysseuss mother as
one of her own.
When Telemachus arrives the next
day, he disembarks and sends his
crew ahead to the city.
Theoclymenus sees a hawk fly
above with a dove in hand that he
interprets as a good sign for
Odysseus and his family line.

Book 16
Telemachus arrives at the hut of
Eumaeus and finds Odysseus and
the swineherd talking. Eumaeus at
first suggest that Telemachus take
Odysseus to the palace with him,
but Telemachus is afraid of the
suitors and their actions, so sends
Eumaeus ahead instead to inform
his mother of his return.
Athena then calls Odysseus outside
the hut where she removes the spell
she had cast upon him, revealing
who he really is. He reenters the hut
and, standing as Odysseus the long
lost King of Ithaca, embraces his

son and two weep. Odysseus


describes his trip to Ithaca with the
Phaeacians and begins to outline
the plot which will eventually
overthrow the suitors.
He will enter the palace disguised
as a beggar, while Telemachaus
hides the excess arms away from
the access of the suitors. When the
time is right, father and son will take
the hidden arms and slaughter the
suitors.
Eumaeus is unable to give
Penelope the news of Telemachuss
return before the ships messenger
arrives. The suitors are duly upset
at their failure and begin to plan
their next move against him.
Antinous wants to kill Telemachus
before he has a chance to call
another assembly and reveal the
plans of the suitors. Amphinomus,
the nicer of the suitors, is able to
waylay such talk though and
convince his brethren to await a
sign from the gods. Penelope later
denounces Antinous for his plot
against Telemachus before being
calmed by the lies of yet another illmannered suitor, Eurymachus.

Book 17
Leaving his father behind,
Telemachus enters the palace and
meets back up with his mother and
Eurycleia, his nurse. He meets with
Theocylmenus and his crew chief in
the hall and requests that the gifts
given to him by Menelaus remain on
the ship for now, lest the suitors

steal them. He later reveals the


news he has gathered from Sparta
and Pylos about Odysseus but does
not reveal that Odysseus is in fact
waiting in Eumaeuss hut.
Theocylmenus however,
pronounces that Odysseus is in
Ithaca at that moment.
After Telemachus has entered the
palace and spoken with Penelope,
Odysseus and Eumaeus set out for
the palace on their own. One of the
suitors companions sees them and
physically assaults Odysseus (in the
disguise of a beggar once more).
When they arrive at the palace,
Odysseus is treated similarly poorly
and is barely able to receive food,
insulting him repeatedly. Antinous
hits Odysseus with a stool after he
insults him in turn and even the
other suitors are upset. Penelope
then requests to see the beggar
who has been beaten to ask of
news regarding Odysseus.
Odysseus does not want to be seen
going to Penelope though.

Book 18
A different beggar known as Irus
arrives and with his fair share of
insolence challenges Odysseus to a
boxing match. With the extra
strength of Athena on his side,
Odysseus is able to quickly dispatch
the other man. The suitors watch on
all along, shouting to keep the fight
going.
After receiving praise from the
suitors for his actions, Odysseus is
toasted and given food by one of
the more moderate suitors,

Amphinomus. This suitor causes


Odysseus to pull him aside to ask
him to leave the city. His request is
such that he hopes to keep the man
from being killed when Odysseus
returns. However, Amphinomus
does not comply as Athena has
already marked him for death.
Driven by the careful nudging of
Athena, Penelope appears before
the suitors with the extra beauty
bestowed upon her by a goddess.
She relays that Odysseus had
instructed her to take a new
husband if Telemachus grew facial
hair before he had returned. She
plays her own clever tricks on them
as well, requesting the suitors to
bring her gifts rather than take from
her to woo her properly. The suitors
offer numerous gifts to Penelope
and Odysseus attempts to send her
maids to her. They also insult
Odysseus though and so he
threatens them to scare them away.
Athena continues to enflame
relations with the suitors by
prompting Eurymachus to insult
Odysseus, leading to a volley of
insults and thrown stools. The room
is about to erupt into a full riot when
Telemachus finally steps in and
settles them all down.

Book 19
That night, Telemachus and
Odysseus hide away the arms while
Athena keeps the rooms lit for them.
Telemahus lies to the Eurycleia and
tells her that they are keeping them
from damage. After their task is
completed, Telemachus leaves for

his chambers and Penelope arrives


to speak with Odysseus. She is
curious of his knowledge of her
husband and questions him to
describe the King. He therefore
describes himself in absolute detail,
brining Penelope to tears in the
process. He tells his recounting of
how he met Odysseus and how he
came to be in Ithaca. He tells her
that Odysseus is alive and well and
will return within one month.
He refuses an offer by Penelope for
a bed to sleep in and very
reluctantly allows Eurycleia to wash
his feet. She notes the scar on his
foot he received while boar hunting
as a young man with his
grandfather. She immediately
recognizes Odysseus and hugs
him. Athena does her part to keep
Penelope distracted though so that
Odysseus can maintain his secret
identity and extract a promise of
silence from Eurycleia.
Penelope describes a dream before
she sleeps to Odysseus about an
eagle which kills all twenty of her
pet geese and then reveals itself as
her husband killing her lovers.
Odysseus explains the dream to her
and Penelope announces that she
will choose a new husband by
demanding the suitors to attempt to
shoot an arrow through twelve axes
in a line, something only Odysseus
has been known to accomplish.

Book 20
Because of the task ahead of them,
Odysseus has trouble sleeping.
Athena assures him of his future

success though, even against such


incredible odds. Penelope on the
other hand is distraught that her
husband is still lost and that she has
just committed to a new husband.
She awakes and prays for death at
the hands of Artemis. Odysseus
responds with a prayer of his own to
Zeus for an omen. Zeus replies with
a thunder clap, coinciding with
maids nearby cursing the suitors.
The following morning, Telemachus
and Odysseus meet up with
Eumaeus, a still loyal herdsman,
and a swarm of suitors arriving with
murder on their minds. Another
eagle appears with a dove in its
claws and Amphinomus requests
that they call of their plot against
Telemachus. Athena keeps the
suitors riled up though so as
Odysseus does not relinquish any
of his rage. One of the suitors
throws a cows hoof at Odysseus
and another threatens to kill him.
They laugh at Odysseus and miss
the obvious omen of blood covering
the walls, an imminent promise of
their doom.

Book 21
Penelope arrives with the
announcement that she will choose
a suitor, so long as he is able to
string Odysseuss bow and shoot an
arrow through the line of twelve
axes. Telemachus quickly sets up
the axes and attempts the feat
himself, failing to even string the
bow. The suitors themselves fail at
the task of warming and stringing
the bow, one by one.

Odysseus retreats outside with


Eumaeus and the loyal herdsman
and ensures they are still loyal to
him before revealing his true
identity. He asks that they fight at
his side and he promises to treat
them as sons in repayment.
Upon returning they find that the
suitors are still failing to even string
the bow. Antinous tries to retire for
the day so that they can make
sacrifices to Apollo and try again the
next day. However, Odysseus steps
forward and requests to try the task
himself. They fear his success and
refuse him the opportunity.
Telemachus silences them though
and demands that Odysseus be
given the bow and a chance. He
quickly and easily strings the bow
and shoots the arrow through all
twelve axes.

Book 22
As quickly as he shoots the first
shot, Odysseus puts an arrow
through the throat of Antinous and
reveals himself as the long lost
King, driving fear into the hearts of
the remaining suitors. The doors are
locked, keeping them from escaping
and despite the pleas of the suitors
to let them live, Odysseus declares
that they will all die and the battle
ensues.
Telemachus retrieves swords and
shields from the storeroom and
arms Eumaeus and the herdsman,
but forgets to lock the room as he
exits. One of the suitors is able to
enter the room and retrieve arms for
the others, though on the second

trip to the storeroom he is captured


and locked inside.
Athena arrives as Mentor and
encourages Odysseus, trying to
measure how strong he truly is. A
few of the suitors are felled with
spears with only small wounds for
Odysseus and his side. However,
as soon as Athena joins in as
Mentor, the battle is quickly finished.
Odysseus kills everyone who was
with the suitors with the exception of
the minstrel and the herald who he
deems as innocent victims.
Odysseus then calls Eurycleia out
to help remove the dead suitors. At
first she is excited at their deaths,
but Odysseus quiets her for
rejoicing over the dead. They gather
the servants who were disloyal and
have them clean and dispose of the
bodies before they are themselves
taken outside and killed.
Telemachus decides they will be
hanged, a much more disgraceful
way to die. Finally, after everyone is
dead, Odysseus orders a fumigation
of the house to cleanse it.

Book 23
Having slept through the entire
battle, Penelope is finally
awakened. She does not believe
Eurycleia at first and does not
accept the truth until she goes
downstairs and sees Odysseus with
her own eyes. The family reunites
and Telemachus chastises her for
not showing more open excitement.
However, Odysseus is more worried
about having just killed every young
nobleman in the country, something

their parents will not appreciate. He


decides to take his family to their
farm and hide for a bit until things
settle.
Wary that she is being tricked,
Penelope is not quite willing to
believe that her husband has
returned. She requests that the
bridal bed be moved, to which
Odysseus explodes, explaining that
such a thing cannot be done. It was
carved from the solid trunk of a
single olive tree, around which the
house was built. She knows from
these details that it must truly be her
husband and finally she rejoices.
They spend time getting caught up
and Odysseus recounts his
journeys thus far. The next day, he
leaves to see Laertes and warns his
wife to remain in her room and not
take any visitors. Athena assists
once again by hiding Odysseus and
Telemachus in darkness.

Book 24
The scene changes to the
procession of the suitors souls to
Hades, led by Hermes. Here,
Agamemnon and Achilles argue
over whose death was better,
describing Achilles funeral in detail.
They meet the suitors as they arrive
and inquire as to how they all died.
They blame Penelope for her
treachery, which Agamemnon
compares to the actual treachery of
Clytmenestra, knowing that
Penelope is a better person.
On Laertes farm, Odysseus arrives
and meets with his father alone. He
finds his father much older than

when he left, having grieved for the


death of his wife and loss of his son.
Odysseus delays revealing himself
to his father, but after Laertes
begins to weep in memory of his
lost son, Odysseus reveals himself
and shows the scar on his foot to
prove his claim along with certain
memories of childhood. He
describes the previous nights battle
with the suitors and their messy
end.
After their discussion, they have
lunch. During their meal, the
Goddess Rumor spreads the news
of the massacre in the palace. The
suitors parents gather and decide
how they will respond. Halitherses,
an elder of the group describes the
just punishment they received, while
Eupithes, Antinouss father wants
revenge against Odysseus.
Eventually, they track down
Odysseus on Laertes farm. Athena
appears once more as Mentor and
stops the procession though, with
only one more man dying,
Antinouss father. Under the careful
manipulation of Athena, the
Ithacans are able to forget the
massacre and Odysseus is able to
reclaim his throne and peace is
restored.