Telemachus’ murder of the maids and the goatherd Melanthius can be explained. These people showed a scornful attitude and betrayed Odysseus. His son mocked the victims just as ironically as the Gods did to his father.
Odyssey demonstrates the irony of some deaths. More specifically, the irony of using the instruments of torture and violence. Odysseus asks Eurycleia to identify the disloyal servants. As she does that, dozens of servants are called and hanged. Thinking about it, Eurycleia contributed to a violent death. And yet, she is perceived as a loyal and positive character.
Melanthius’ death has a particular irony as well. Telemachus divided his body in a specific way. The way that the shepherd divided his herds of goats. Moreover, the murder occurred with a sense of cold cruelty and cynicism. What does this mean for the narration? It shows that sins and betrayal are boomerangs. They can return to a person most unexpectedly. And that’s just one side of the story.
Melanthius was a goat herder and loyal servant. Yet, he once betrayed his master and mocked him. The owner desired to provide a painful death. He resorted to quartering, cutting off the genitals, and abusing the victim’s limbs. Telemachus, the son of Odysseus, committed the torture. The murder is perceived as a symbol of obedience to his father. Yet, the murder can be a sign of blind obeyance to his father. Telemachus is ready to implement any actions to restore the honor of Odysseus.