Ten years have lapsed since Odysseus led the Trojan War and won eternal glory for himself. He struggles to reach his kingdom, Ithaka due to Gods’ will. Meanwhile, his wife Penelope and son Telemakhos have to put up with suitors who pillage their land and feed on their reserves. Telemakhos is too weak to retaliate and poor Penelope earns the wrath of the suitors as she declines their offers. The suitors are barbarous as they plunder the wealth and at the same time, woo the lady. Both mother and son suffer insults and abuse simultaneously. The suitors remain unaware that their crude behavior to Odysseus has flaunted the laws of the Gods and punishment would follow.
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Antinous is impudent. Another suitor, Cterippen is arrogant, Eurymakhos is foul and each of the other suitors walks to death. This reminds us of their wrong deeds to Odysseus’ family to the displeasure of the Gods.
At the end of book XX, we find the suitors reacting impudently to Telemakhos and it is certainly true that human participants with these events are truly responsible for their own actions. “Telemakhos, no man is a luckier host
When it comes to what the cat dragged in. What burning
Eyes your beggar had for bread and wine!”(387)
Athena has robbed them of their wits. She manipulates the suitors, egging on their abuse of Odysseus in order to enrage him further. When Odysseus, disguised as a beggar reaches his palace, Antinous throws a stool at him and rebukes him. Each suitor in his own way curses the beggar in every possible manner. It is believed that Gods lift their favorite mortals to success and ensure that their enemies are crushed just as Athena does with Odysseus and the suitors. Hence like the Iliad, The Odyssey often depicts God arranging the future based on the outcomes of the great debates on Mount Olympus. In book XIV, Antinoos says, “Now!
You think you’ll shuffle off and get away
after that impudence? Oh, no you don’t!” (326)
He throws a stool and hits Odysseus on his right shoulder.
Unfortunately, the suitors are unaware of the consequences of their actions. It could be due to lust and greed which have made them blind to fear God. It should be borne in mind that Odysseus is superior to the suitors and one should recall the good old days when there were no suitors and Odysseus’ rule was unchallenged. Its pre-eminence in Ithaka before the Trojan war is noteworthy. Once again, through his mastery, he becomes the most powerful man in his kingdom. Athena, disguised as Mentor, offers encouragement at every crucial moment. In book XXI., we find Penelope in utter distress which wakes Odysseus from sleep and he asks Zeus for a good omen. Zeus responds with a clap of thunder, and at once, a maid in the adjacent room is heard cursing the suitors. Towards the end the suitors fail to notice that they and the walls of the room are covered in blood and that their faces have assumed a ghostly look – all of which could be interpreted as portents of inescapable doom. In book XX, the visionary, Theoklymenos says,
“Night shrouds you to the knees, your heads, your faces;
Dry retch of death runs round like fire in sticks;
your cheeks are streaming; these fair walls and pedestals
are dripping crimson blood.” (386).
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The suitors are avenged. “… grandeur and significance of Iliad’s famous duels are absent from this melee”. (Homer 2006). One famous hero wards off a bunch of freeloaders.
Homer. The odyssey. Books 21-22. Spark Notes. 2006. Web.