The Odyssey Books 23-24 Summary

     In book twenty-three Eurycleia runs up to tell Penelope that her husband has returned, and he has killed all the suitors. Penelope, however, is doubtful. She doesn't understand how he was able to defeat so many men on his own. Eurycleia assures her that she has seen the scar on Odysseus's foot and believes it is truly him, but Penelope isn't sure. She goes down to speak to Odysseus. Her son Telemachus also assures her that it is truly his father, but Odysseus doesn't mind her doubt. He tells Telemachus to allow Penelope to question her husband if she must in order for him to prove himself to her. Odysseus is then bathed and dressed and seated before his wife who remains obstinate in her belief that he cannot truly have returned. Odysseus then asks to go to sleep, so Penelope offers to bring her own large bed into the hall for him to use. Odysseus becomes enraged. He built their bed into the trunk of a tree and fashioned their bedroom around it. He knows that the only way that she could move it into the hall for him is if some man has gone into his bedroom and cut down the tree, which would mean she had been unfaithful. Penelope then runs to him and kisses his face because she was testing him. The bed has not moved just as her love for him has remained constant. He knew about the bed, so she believes that he is truly her husband returned to her at last. They spend the night talking, with Odysseus describing all the obstacles that he faced. The next morning Odysseus wants to visit his father, Laertes. He also puts forth a proclamation of what happened to the suitors.

     Book twenty-four begins with the dead suitors going to Hades and telling the other dead souls how so many of them died at once. Odysseus goes to talk to his father who doesn't initially recognize him until Odysseus shows him the scar and points out all the trees in the garden that Laertes gave to Odysseus as a boy. Telemachus then joined their happy reunion. Meanwhile at the palace the relatives of the suitors had come to claim the dead when Eupeithes, father of Antinous, tries to rally them to retaliate against Odysseus. Medon, the page, steps up and explains how a god disguised as Mentor, appeared and assisted Odysseus in the battle and how it's their own fault that their sons died for not preventing their sons from acting so selfishly. Telemachus arrives and Athena encourages him, so he lets go of his sword, which strikes and kills Eupeithes. Then Odysseus stepped forward, and Athena brought peace to the crowd then and forevermore.

     The story wraps up nicely with the help of Athena who can supernaturally tie up loose ends. Despite the loss of many lives, it is a happy ending with the family reuniting and Odysseus taking his place as king. This ending fits the pattern of the epic hero cycle where after being away for a period of time, the hero returns home and regains his rightful place.

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