Odyssey Plot Summary




Odyssey Plot Summary


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Odyssey Plot Summary


Book  I: A Goddess Intervenes


The Trojan war is over and the Greeks have come back victorious – all except Odysseus. His hometown, Ithaka (aka Ithaca), stands without its leader. As the book opens, he is being held captive by the sea nymph Kalypso (aka Calypso). She is in love with Odysseus and wants to keep him as her husband.  Homer reveals that the reason that Odysseus is taking so long to get home is that he has angered the sea god, Poseidon.  Athena is looking out for Odysseus, however. While Poseidon is off attending a banquet, Athena appeals to her father Zeus to help out Odysseus. She wants Hermes, the messenger god, to tell Kalypso to let Odysseus go. After she has taken care of that matter, she goes to visit Telemakhos, Odysseus’ son (aka Telemachus). He is about 20, and he is having his own problems. While Odysseus has been away, a group of suitors has come to win the hand of his wife, Penelope.  Odysseus is rich and powerful and these men all want to marry his wife so they can take over that wealth and power – and it doesn’t hurt that Penelope is gorgeous. Penelope is diplomatically keeping them at bay, but she is obliged to entertain them while she stalls, and they are rude pigs. They eat Odysseus’ food, drink his wine, sleep in his home, and generally act like unwanted party guests who don’t know when to leave.   Telemakhos is understandably frustrated, but Athena tells him to take courage. She reveals that his father is not dead and will return one day.  In the meantime, she urges Telemakhos to act like a man and try to get rid of the suitors as well as make an effort to discover what has happened to his father.


Book 2: A Hero’s Son Awakens


Telemakhos doesn’t lose any time. He gathers together all the men of Ithaka and takes a stand against the suitors, demanding that they leave.  The main suitors are Antinoos (aka Antinous) and Eurymakhos (aka Eurymachus). Along with the others, they respond that they will only leave when Penelope has chosen one of them to marry. Telemakhos suggests a compromise. If the suitors hold off, he will go and determine once and for all if Odysseus is dead. If he finds out that his father is indeed dead, he will force Penelope to make a decision.  Telemakhos gets together a crew and sets sail for Pylos under the guidance of Athena.

Book III - Telemakhos Meets Nestor


Pylos is where Nestor lives (the wise counselor we first saw in the Iliad). Telemakhos tells him that he is looking for Odysseus, and Nestor recounts to him how everybody went their separate ways after the Trojan War ended. He states that the last time he saw Odysseus, he was in a ship and on his way home.  Nestor advises Odysseus to inquire of Menelaos (aka Menelaus) in Sparta to see if he knows more.


Book IV – The Red-Haired King and His Lady


Telemakhos takes his advice and heads off to Sparta. When he gets there, Menelaos is hosting a wedding banquet for his son and daughter. Telemakhos waits until the next day to talk to him. When he does, Menelaos is horrified by the state of affairs at Odysseus’ home. He tells Telemakhos that Odysseus is still alive, but being held prisoner by Kalypso.   Meanwhile, over in Ithaka, the suitors discover that Telemakhos has already gone on the journey to find out about his father’s fate. They decide to set a trap for him and kill him.


Book V -  Sweet Nymph and Open Sea


At Athena’s repeated urging, Zeus finally sends Hermes to tell Kalypso to release Odysseus after his eight years of captivity as Kalypso’s unwilling lover. As a minor goddess, she has been using her powers to force Odysseus to sleep with her every night.  We first see him staring towards the sea, weeping over his fate as Kalypso’s love slave. Yes, she has prevented him from aging, but she is not the one he wants. He yearns for his wife Penelope and home. Resigned to the will of Zeus, Kalypso gives Odysseus a boat to carry him away. However, Poseidon is back from his trip and discovers that Odysseus has been set free. Angry, he calls up a storm and wrecks Odysseus’ boat.  Desperately clutching to a piece of the wreckage, Odysseus floats to the island of Skheria where the Phaiakians (aka Phaeacians) live.


Book VI – The Princess at the River


Odysseus is discovered buck naked and asleep by the young princess of the Phaiakians, Nausikaa (aka Nausicaa), as she and her friends are playing ball.  At first she is scared of the wild-looking man, but he sweet talks her into giving him some bathing oils to clean up and some cloth to cover himself (she had been told by Athena in a dream that she needed to bring those things). Once he does, he looks incredibly handsome, and she is completely won over. He does not reveal who he is, but she tells him where she is from and encourages him to head there as well and ask her mother and father for hospitality.


Book VII – Gardens and Firelight


King Alkinoos and Queen Arete of Phaiakia (aka Phaeacia) welcome the stranger.  He tells them about his shipwreck and they offer to help him home.


Book VIII: Songs of the Harper


Alkinoos invites Odysseus to a banquet where stories will be told. He comes, and hears tales of the Trojan War which affect him visibly.


Book IX – New Coasts and Poseidon’s Son


Odysseus finally reveals his identity and tells his story.   After he and his men had left Troy, his ships found themselves in the middle of a terrible storm. They wound up at an island where they discovered a people known as the “Lotos (aka Lotus)-Eaters.” Anyone who ate the lotos would forget who they were and what they were doing, and want nothing more than to stay on the island and consume more lotos.  Two men and a runner had taken the lotos and wanted to stay, but they were dragged back to the ship kicking and screaming and bound to benches until they come to their senses (assuming they did).


His  next stop was at the land of the Kyklopes (aka Cyclopes), one-eyed monsters with no laws. He took twelve men onshore with him to seek help on his journey, but instead the Kyklops he met, Polyphemos, grabbed two of his men and ate them. He stuffed the rest in his cave and the next morning had another two for breakfast. Odysseus got the monster drunk and then drove a stake through his eye. Blinded and in excruciating pain, he demanded Odysseus’ name. Odysseus told him that his name was “Nohbdy.” (Nobody.)  Therefore, when the Kyklops yelled for help by saying that “Nohbdy’s tricked me,” his fellow Kyklopes tell themselves, “Well, if nobody is hurting him, what can we do?”  They did not come to help.   Odysseus and the remaining men escaped by binding themselves to Kyklopes’ sheep. Since Polythemos couldn’t see them, he only felt the wool of the sheep as they passed.  As Odysseus and his men sailed away, Odysseus yelled back at Polyphemos that “Odysseus, raider of cities, took your eye!” Enraged, Polyphemos asked his father to seek revenge – and his father is Poseidon.


Book X – The Grace of the Witch


The next stop was the home of Aiolos (aka Aeolus), king of the winds. Aiolos was very helpful, and Odysseus stayed there a month. When Odysseus was ready to leave, Aiolos gave him a bag of the winds so that he could get the wind to blow just the right way to speed him along and prevent any adverse winds. Unfortunately, Odysseus’ crew was very greedy. When he would not tell them about what was in the bag, they thought the bag was full of treasure. Just as the boat neared Ithaka, some of the men ripped open the bag while Odysseus was sleeping. The winds, loosed and combined, blew them right back to Aiolos!  This time Aiolos wanted nothing to do with them, thinking they were cursed.


Next stop: Laistrygonia (aka Laestrygonia). The men had to row there; thanks to Aiolos, they have no wind. The residents of Laistrygonia were giants and man-eaters. They ate the landing party Odysseus sent, then threw boulders as the rest of the ships tried to escape. Only Odysseus’s ship survived, because it had not pulled into the harbor.


Next stop: Aeaea where Kirke (aka Circe) lives. Kirke is a sorceress who is good with spells and potions.   She also has a bad habit of turning men into pigs.   Several of Odysseus’ men got captured and turned into pigs, but before it could happen to Odysseus, he was warned by Hermes and received a magic herb from him that counteracted Kirke’s spell. By offering to have sex with her if she complied, he convinced her to change his other men back. Kirke was so impressed with this sexy, powerful man that she fell in love with him. He stayed with her for a year. Finally, he left, but not before Kirke told him to visit the prophet Teiresias in the underworld and gave him directions on  how to get there.


Book XI – A Gathering of Shades


Odysseus undertook the journey to Hades. Once he arrived, in order to attract the shades of the dead, Odysseus made animal sacrifices. The pool of blood the sacrifices created drew the “shades” or souls, all of whom craved fresh blood.  Only when they drank the blood were they able to taste mortality enough to talk to the living. Many approached, but Odysseus held them at bay with a spear while he waited for Teiresias.   When Teiresias finally arrived, he foretold that Odysseus would be able to go home, but he would not be free of Poseidon’s curse until he had undertaken his journey. Teiresis also told him that his death would come at a ripe old age. In addition, he warned Odysseus that if he and his men wished to return to Ithaka, they must not eat any of the sun-god Helios’ herd of cattle which resided on the island of Thrinakia.


Besides Teiresias, Odysseus also talked to a few other dead people. He saw Elpenor, a member of his crew who had died on Kirke’s island, unbeknownst to Odysseus. Odysseus promised to bury him. He saw his mother, who had been alive when he left Ithaka. He talked to heroes such as Herakles (aka Hercules), Akhilleus (aka Achilles) and Agamemnon. He also saw Aias (aka Ajax) from afar, but Aias refused to talk to him. Understandably, Aias was still angry at the man who had indirectly caused his suicide. After Akhilleus’ death during the Trojan War, his armor was to be given to the next greatest warrior. Odysseus had fast-talked the Greeks into giving him the armor instead of Aias. Aias was so shamed that he killed himself.  Many famous women also came by – beauties, consorts of gods, and queens.


Finally, though, Odysseus could not take any more of the dead. He was overcome by dread when he saw more shades approaching, and he rushed away.  Once he returned to Kirke’s island, he was warned about the dangers that remained on their path: the Seirenes (aka Sirens), Skylla (aka Scylla), and Kharydis (aka Charybdis).   Before he left, Odysseus remembered to give Elpenor burial rites.


Book XII – Sea Perils and Defeat


Odysseus and his men first encountered the Seirenes. The Seirenes are half-bird, half-women and live on the island of Anthemoessa. They sing a beautiful song that draws every man who hears it irresistibly to his doom. Either their ships crash as they rush blindly towards the island, or they rot away on the island itself, unable to move because they are entranced by the song.   As Kirke had advised, Odysseus ordered his men to fill their ears with wax so they could not hear the song. However, he wanted to hear the song. Knowing that even he could not resist their call, he again followed Kirke’s advice and ordered his men to bind him to the mast. They were told to ignore him when he pleaded to be released. Indeed, they were instructed to only bind him harder the more desperate he became, thereby ensuring he would not break his bonds no matter how wildly he struggled to go to the Seirenes.  Sure enough, as he passed, he heard the Seirenes sing of past glory in their entrancing voices and felt a yearning so intense that he was mindless to the dangers or anything else. He ordered and then begged his men to let him go as the yearning continued to intensify the closer they got. The ropes held against his frenzied struggling, however, and they passed by in safety.  Once they were out of earshot, Odysseus came back to himself and was released.


After passing by the Seirenes, Odysseus and his men had to successfully pass between Skylla and Kharybdis.  Unfortunately, it was impossible to get by without being struck down by one of them.  Skylla was a monster with six long tentacle-like necks, each with a dog’s head. (She used to be a beautiful woman, but when the sea-god Glaucus chose Skylla as a lover over Kirke, Kirke poured a potion into the water while Skylla bathed which turned her into an immortal man-eating monster). Whenever a ship went by Skylla, each of her six dog-head snapped out and grabbed a man.  Kharybdis, on the other side, was a powerful whirlpool which sucked in everything around it in the water, then vomited it back up destroyed.  Kirke had suggested that it was better to go by Skylla, and Odysseus agreed that losing six men was better than losing the entire ship. He sailed on Scylla’s side.   Sure enough, he lost the men, but otherwise he and his ship escaped.


Once past, the men were tired and demoralized. Nearby, they saw the island of Helios with his sacred cattle. Odysseus did not even want to land, remembering Teiresius’ warning, but the men led by Eurylokhos protested. They insisted on landing. Odysseus made them swear not to touch the cattle and they agreed, but they got stuck on the island for over a month due to adverse winds (or lack of them entirely). The food Kirke had given them ran out. Odysseus went to make a sacrifice to the gods to get good winds so they could leave the island, but fell asleep afterwards. While he was away, the hungry men finally cooked a few of the cattle. Unsurprisingly, the gods were angered.  When the men tried to leave the island soon afterwards, Zeus hurled a thunderbolt in the midst of a vicious storm which destroyed the ship after pushing it back towards Kharybdis. All of the men died except Odysseus.   He hung on to some debris and drifted closer and closer to Charybdis.  When the keel he was clinging to got sucked in to the whirlpool, he grabbed on to an overhanging branch and hung on for dear life. Eventually, the keel popped back up, and he was able to grab it and get away.  Zeus helped him by keeping him hidden from Skylla as he went by.   He drifted for nine more days and finally wound up on Ogygia Isle where Kalypso lived. This brings us back to when we first saw Odysseus, and concludes the flashback.


Book XIII – One More Strange Island


Finished with his story, Odysseus is told by King Alkinoos that he can and must return to Ithaka.  He orders one of his ships to sail Odysseus home. Odysseus falls asleep in the ship and does not even awaken when they reach Ithaka, so the men lay him sleeping on his home shore.   Unfortunately for the Phaiakians, Poseidon punishes them for helping out Odysseus by turning the ship into stone as it enters the Phaiakian port.


Odysseus awakens alone on the mist-covered shore, at first unable to recognize his home. Athena appears to him in the guise of a young man. Unsure who to trust, Odysseus makes up a story about being left on the beach by a mutinous crew. Amused by his easy lying, Athena reveals her true form.  She assures Odysseus he is indeed at Ithaka, helps him hide the treasures the Phaiakians have left with him in a cave, and changes him into the form of an old beggar so that he can enter Ithaka unrecognized. She tells him to find his swineherd, Eumaios (aka Eumaeus), and ask about how things are in Ithaka. Athena then heads off to get Telemakhos from Lakedaimon.


Book XIV – Hospitality in the Forest


Odysseus arrives at Eumaios’ hut. Eumaios tells him a little about what is happening at his home. He is a kind man who gives great hospitality to this stranger, even giving him his cloak and sleeping outdoors so Odysseus can sleep in comfort inside.  Odysseus is impressed by his generosity and loyalty. The old swineherd will not believe Odysseus when he tells him that his master is still living and will return, though.


XV – How They Came to Ithaka


After being warned by Athena about the suitors’ plans to ambush him on the way home, Telemakhos says goodbye to Menelaos and Helen and leaves for Ithaka. Meanwhile, at the swineherd’s hut, Odysseus has been pumping Eumaios for information by pretending he wants to go to his master’s house to seek employment. Eumaios tells him about how horrible the suitors are.  The next morning, Telemakhos lands on Ithaka’s shore and goes to the hut of the swineherd per Athena’s instructions.  


XVI – Father and Son


Telemakhos arrives at the hut to find Eumaios and the “stranger.” After talking together, Eumaios wants to go tell Laertes, Odysseus’ father and Telemakhos’ grandfather, that his grandson has arrived back safely. After he leaves, Odysseus reveals himself to Telemakhos with Athena’s help.  After a tearful reunion, they devise a plan to take care of all those suitors.  Odysseus will return home in disguise, telling no one his identity, and wait for the time where he and Telemakhos can exact revenge.


Meanwhile, back at the palace, the suitors hear that Telemakhos has gotten back safely before they could kill him. They plot to kill him once he returns, but Penelope overhears one of them, Antinoos, and berates him. Antinoos is generally considered their leader, but another suitor, Eurymakhos, convinces her that the suitors would never really hurt Telemakhos. However, we know differently.


Book XVII – The Beggar at the Manor


Telemakhos goes back home the next day and tells Penelope that Odysseus is alive and with Kalypso, but will return soon.  Penelope is afraid to believe it is true, although she certainly wants it to be. Odysseus later arrives with Eumaios and on the way they meet up with Melanthios, Odysseus’ goatherd. Unlike Eumaios, Melanthios has not been loyal to Odysseus. He kisses up to the suitors instead. He is also a cruel man, insulting and violent towards the “beggar.” Odysseus bites back his rage and leaves his revenge for later.


Odysseus and Eumaios arrive at the palace. Near the gates, they see Argos, Odysseus’ old faithful dog, lying forgotten in a dung heap. He recognizes his master and barks joyfully, then dies happy. Odysseus can barely keep from crying at the touching display of loyalty and love.


Once at the palace, Odysseus sees the suitors in all their glory, feasting at his table.  Telemakhos tells the “beggar” he can remain at the table to plead for food, and gives him some. Antinoos is not as generous. Not only does he insult Odysseus, he hits him with a footstool. Once again Odysseus privately vows revenge, but shows nothing on the outside.


Noticing the “beggar,” Penelope asks Eumaios about him. After she gets a little information, she approaches Odysseus and asks him if he has heard anything about her husband. He says he has and that he will tell her about it later.


Book XVIII – Blows and a Queen’s Beauty


A fellow beggar named Iros shows up at the banquet. He is a regular and the suitors like him. He argues with Odysseus, worried about another beggar encroaching on his territory. The suitors get a kick out of watching the two fight and offer a prize to whomever wins a physical confrontation. Odysseus takes off his tunic to fight. When Iros sees that Odysseus is a well-muscled, strong man, he gets scared. Despite the fact that Odysseus tries to take it easy on the inept Iros, he still breaks his jaw. One of the suitors, Amphinomous, is nice to Odysseus. Odysseus tries to convince him to leave but he does not, doomed to the same fate as all the others.


Penelope arrives, looking even more beautiful than usual thanks to enhancement by Athena. She is dismayed by the scene of the bloody beggar with the broken jaw and the ill-treatment of the new “beggar,” and considers it one more example of the way the suitors have turned her home into a circus. Once again she blames them for taking advantage of her husband’s estate, but to keep them from rioting, also hints that she plans to marry the one who woos her with the nicest gifts. Spurred on by her beauty, the suitors hurry to comply. Their efforts to get gifts from their homelands serves to delay her choice. Odysseus sees her ploy for what it is and is proud of her for being so cunning.


Later that night, the “beggar” Odysseus is insulted by Melantho, one of his maids. She has gotten cocky because one of the suitors, Eurymakhos, has taken her for his mistress. Odysseus calls her disloyal, and when Eurymakhos hears, he throws a footstool at Odysseus. Odysseus is about to get into a confrontation with him when Telemakhos interrupts and orders everyone to bed. Unused to Telemakhos ordering anyone to do anything, the suitors are taken aback, but obey.



Book XIX - Recognitions and a Dream

Once the suitors are safely in bed and Odysseus and Telemakhos are alone in the great hall, they begin to remove the weapons from it.  If asked why the weapons are gone, Telemakhos is told to say that the fire has damaged them and that he fears they will be used if a quarrel breaks out among the suitors. After they have removed all the arms, Telemakhos says goodnight.

Penelope arrives in the hall and sits near the fire. Once again, Melantho insults Odysseus the beggar, but Penelope chastises her for her behavior. She gives attention to the “beggar,” asking where he is from and how he came to their palace.   He does not answer her, instead complimenting her shrewdness. She admits that her greatest stalling technique, the weaving and unweaving of Laertes’ shroud, has been discovered.   When Penelope presses the beggar about his past, Odysseus spins a tale that he had met Odysseus twenty years prior on the journey to Troy.  Odysseus is easily able to “prove” his story by describing his own clothes in detail. He tries to encourage her and tell her that Odysseus is coming back, but Penelope can hardly be blamed for doubting what he says. Still, she likes the beggar, and instructs her handmaidens to take care of him. Odysseus’ old nurse Eurykleia is told to wash his feet. As she does so, she recognizes a scar - the result of a wound he had received in his youth while hunting boars with his grandfather.  We now hear about how Odysseus was named.  When Eurykleia wants to tell Penelope the good news, Odysseus makes her swear to keep his identity secret on pain of death.

After Eurykleia leaves, Penelope confides further in the mysterious stranger. She is torn between staying in Ithaka with Telemakhos to care for her husband’s possessions herself, or leave them to Telemakhos to care for entirely while she marries some other man. She says that she has had a dream where an eagle kills the geese in her yard. Odysseus quickly interprets the dream to mean the death of all of the suitors.  Penelope tells Odysseus that she plans to have the suitors compete for her hand by stringing Odysseus’ bow.  Whichever one can not only string the bow but can shoot an arrow through a row of 12 axes will be the one she marries. Odysseus likes this idea, and tells her she should hold the contest soon. He assures her that her husband will come back in time for the contest. Unbelieving and despairing, Penelope returns to bed.


Book XX – Signs and a Vision

Tossing and turning, Odysseus cannot sleep. All he can do is think about how much he hates the suitors.   When he sees some maids heading off to sleep with some of the suitors, he once again has to choke back his rage.  At this point, Athena appears to him.  She urges him to forget about the suitors for a little while and sleep.  After he finally sleeps, Penelope awakens. Still in despair, she says a prayer to Artemis wishing for death instead of a marriage to one of the suitors, then sobs as she remembers a dream that she recently had. She is still crying when Odysseus awakens the next morning.  All of his worries return and he prays to Zeus for a positive sign. Zeus sends a thunderclap and Odysseus is encouraged. He also takes heart from a prophecy he hears an old woman mutter as she is grinding at the mill.

When Telemakhos awakens, his first concern is for his father. He checks with Eurykleia to make sure that he has been treated kindly.  Over in the kitchen, a great feast is once again being prepared for the suitors (as usual).  Once again Odysseus has to endure insults from Melanthios. However, the cowherd Philoitios is nice to Odysseus. The suitors continue to plot against Telemakhos but when they see an omen unfavorable to their enterprise – an eagle with a dove in its talons – they put off the plan for a more fortuitous time.

When dinner is served, Telemakhos shocks and offends the suitors by inviting Odysseus to sit at his table.  Another suitor, Ktesippos, throws an ox’s foot at Odysseus (throwing things seems to be their way of dealing with anger).  Quick Odysseus dodges it and stores it up as one more reason for revenge, but Telemakhos can’t let it pass and threatens the suitors again.  Another suitor, Agelaos, responds with the request that Telemakhos end all of this by making his mother decide on one of them.  His reply is that he refuses to force her mother to do something she does not want to do.  The suitors scoff at this, laughing, but underneath the fake merriment they are seething.  At this point, the seer Theoclymenos has a vision:  the suitors wearing death shrouds as blood streams down the walls.  More scoffing greets this prophesy, but Theoclymenos is smart enough to leave while he can. Nearby, Penelope hears everything.

 Book XXI - The Test of the Bow


Penelope lays out the rules of the contest for the suitors. Odysseus has a special bow that only he has been able to string.  If the one of the suitors can not only string the bow but also duplicate his feat of shooting an arrow through twelve axes, Penelope will consent to marriage. The suitors eagerly accept.  Meanwhile, Odysseus takes Eumaios and Philoitios into his confidence, tells them his true identity, and lets them in on his deadly plan so that they can help.


Unsurprisingly, none of the suitors can string the bow. Not ready to give up, Antinoos wants to try again the next day. Odysseus steps up and says that he wants to try to string the bow. The suitors deny him, but the intrigued Penelope allows it. Telemakhos tells Penelope that she needs to leave before the “beggar” strings the bow. She obeys, and after she goes, Eumaios and Philoitios quietly lock all the doors.


Of course, Odysseus strings the bow and shoots an arrow through the axes with no problem. The suitors sit amazed and do not notice Telemakhos grabbing a sword in order to help Odysseus clean house.


Book XXII – Death in the Great Hall


And clean house he does. He whips out another arrow, turns around, and nails Antinoos with it. The panicked suitors believe that the beggar is a madman, but then Odysseus reveals his identity to them.  They read murder in his eyes and Eurymakhos desperately tries to save them by blaming Antinoos for everything.  Odysseus doesn’t even dignify that weak excuse with a reply, other than shooting Eurymakhos with the next arrow. The suitors jump up and try to fight back, but they have been taken by surprise and are no match for the well-prepared and deadly Odysseus. He starts picking them off with his arrows, and with the help of Telemakhos, Eumaios, and Philoitios, he kills them all in short order.   Then, Odysseus turns on the traitorous maids that have slept with and aided the suitors. After Eurykleia identifies the twelve disloyal maids, Odysseus orders them to clean up the bloody hall and remove the dead bodies of their former lovers.   He is not done with them, however. As soon as the place is clean, he has them all hanged.  Finally, Odysseus kills and mutilates Melanthios. With all the traitors dead, Odysseus wipes out the stench of death by burning brimstone in the hall. The house has been purged in more ways than one.


Book XXIII - The Trunk of the Olive Tree


After the slaughter is over, Eurykleia goes to find Penelope and tell her that her husband is back and the suitors are dead. Penelope is in her bedroom, still mourning, and can’t believe that Odysseus is really home again. She descends to the hall to see what has indeed happened. Since the bodies have all been removed, all she sees is the “beggar” drenched in the blood of the suitors. She still is afraid to believe it is really Odysseus. She devises a test. The bed Odysseus built for them is a special one. It was made from an olive tree that goes up through the entire house, which was built around it. Obviously, it cannot be moved as a result. However, no one knows about their private bed but Penelope and Odysseus, so she tells him that the bed has been moved. His reaction is disbelief and anger – he knows the bed is immovable. When Penelope sees his reaction, she is overjoyed – he has passed the test. It IS Odysseus. Her husband has finally returned to her after twenty years. They hurry off to the bedroom to make up for lost time. Athena even delays the rising of the sun so that the two can have extra time to do so.  After the sun finally does rise, Odysseus heads off to visit his father Laertes.


Book XXIV – Warriors, Farewell


Meanwhile, the whole gang of suitors is being led by Hermes to Hades. When all Odysseus’ dead friends from Troy see the victims of Odysseus’ rage coming to join them in the underworld, they commend his bravery and skill as a warrior. They also admire Penelope for being so true to Odysseus.


After Odysseus has a joyful reunion with his father, he has to deal with the relatives of the suitors. While he had been visiting Laertes, they had had an assembly and decided to seek revenge on Odysseus.  Armed and angry, they head to Laertes’ farm to kill Odysseus. Athena sees them and asks Zeus if she can help out. When the relatives and Odysseus begin to fight, Zeus sends a thunderbolt to make them stop.  Athena appears and demands that the fighting end and the relatives accept that the suitors deserved to die. After this has been settled, Odysseus returns victoriously to his former position as king of Ithaka.


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