Homer And The Odyssey

For those of you who had Ms. Rhunde for a teacher of reading, we already read the Odyssey..sort of. It's my favorite of the 2. Especially because of the Scylla which is a woman, dog, sea floaty buoyant monster…….thing. The following is again, a summary.

Long years have passed since Troy was taken and the victors of the siege set out for home. But Odysseus, ship wrecked after many adventures on his homeward way, has remained ever since marooned on a distant island, cherished prisoner of the sea-nymph Calypso. She loves him dearly and has offered him the gift of immortality. But he longs to return to his wife and his home.

At Odysseus¹s. home in Ithaca, meanwhile most people have given him up for lost. In consequence rival suitors are pestering his wife to remarry, partly because of her own attractions and partly with an eye to advancing a claim to Odysseus' royal prerogatives. Abusing the customary entitlement of visitors to hospitality they are making themselves free of Odysseus' house and eating and drinking daily at his expense. Odysseus' son Telemachus, a boy till now, has been powerless to prevent them. When the story of the Odyssey begins he is just emerging into manhood. His mother Penelope, as we presently learn, longs and still hopes for Odysseus' return, and the thought of marriage to any other man is repulsive to her; but her hope is fading, the pressure on her is increasing and her resources for resisting it are nearing exhaustion.

Two developments now take place, roughly simultaneously with one another. Telemachus suddenly decides to assert himself as a man and head of the household. And Calypso consents at last to let Odysseus go.

Telemachus warns the suitors (of course without effect) to leave the house, making them responsible for the consequences if they do not. Then he sets out by ship for the mainland in quest of some definite news of his father, alive or dead. From Nestor at Pylos and Menelaus at Sparta he hears the stories of what befell the other Greek chieftains after the fall of Troy, and a report that his father is alive but captive on an island far away. The suitors in Telcmachus' absence plan to ambush and kill him on his way back to Ithaca.

Meanwhile on Calypso's island far away the nymph has at last been persuaded to let Odysseus go. With her help he makes a raft, and sets out in it across the sea. After some days of uneventful sailing a violent storm arises. The raft is wrecked, and Odysseus escapes with difficulty by swimming, to come ashore et last in the land of the Phaiakians, where King Alcinous receives him kindly and promises to have him carried safely home to Ithaca. In Alcinous' palace he tells his hosts (at length) the story of all his past adventures since leaving Troy (the encounters with giants and witches and sundry marvels that make up the best known part of the whole poem). That done, the Phaiakians with magical speed convey him, sleeping, home to Ithaca and land him in a remote part of the island.

Disguised and dressed as a tattered castaway, Odysseus now finds shelter (unrecognized) in the hut of his own head swineherd, from whom he learns how things stand with his family and in his home Presently Telemachus, returned from his travels after escaping the suitors' ambush, comes to visit the swineherd. While the swineherd is temporarily absent Odysseus sheds his disguise and reveals himself to his son. Together they plan their next move. Odysseus resumes his disguise.

Next morning he proceeds to his own house in the Ithacan town and enters it in the character of a beggar seeking alms. He observes and himself suffers from, the arrogant and brutal behavior of the suitors. He waits for his chance. He dare not yet reveal himself even to his wife, with whom as mistress of the house he is invited to a private conversation. More than once he is in danger of premature recognition. The tension rises.

Penelope. not recognizing her husband in the tattered stranger, and seeing that her son is now grown up and able to take his place as his father's heir, decides (or appears to decide) that she must at last surrender to the suitors' importunity. She proposes a test to settle who shall have her hand and take her to his home. The test is, to string Odysseus' bow and perform with it a certain feat of archery. The bow is brought. The suitors try in turn to string it, without success. Penelope leaves the hale. The bow comes presently, despite protests from the suitors, into the hands of Odysseus himself.

The dénouement follows swiftly. The suitors, taken unawares, are killed to a man by Odysseus, helped by his son and two loyal servants to whom after cautious sounding he has already revealed himself. He sheds his disguise and resumes his natural appearance. Penelope, afraid at first to believe that her wish has at last come true, now sees him as she remembers him, and the recollection of a shared secret seals their reunion. They tell one another, as they lie in bed together, what has happened to each during their long separation; and Odysseus tells Penelope of further trials prophesied for him, though with final homecoming and a quiet end at the last the poet's tact thus tempers his happy ending with a touch of bitter in the sweet. On the next day peace is made between Odysseus and the families of the men on whom he took his vengeance.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License