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The Odyssey Book 20 Quotes

How we cite the quotes:

Quote 1

‘Poor wretches, what evil has come on you? Your heads and faces and the knees underneath you are shrouded in night and darkness; a sound of wailing has broken out, your cheeks are covered with tears, and the walls bleed, and the fine supporting pillars. All the forecourt is huddled with ghosts, the yard is full of them as they flock down to the underworld and the darkness. The sun has perished out of the sky, and a foul mist has come over.’ So he spoke, and all of them laughed happily at him. (20.351-358)

The seer predicts damnation and darkness for the suitors for their treachery. He turns out, like most seers, to be right. What the heck is the rest of the suitors’ problem? We definitely wouldn’t be laughing in their place!


Quote 2

This is an uncharacteristic moment of weakness for the usually patient Penelope.

(Penelope:) ‘So I wish that they who have their homes on Olympos would make me vanish, or sweet-haired Artemis strike me, so that I could meet the Odysseus I long for, even under the hateful earth, and not have to please the mind of an inferior husband. Yet the evil is endurable, when one cries through the days, with heart constantly troubled, yet still is taken by sleep in the nights; for sleep is oblivion of all things, both good and evil, when it has shrouded the eyelids. But now the god has sent the evil dreams thronging upon me. For on this very night there was one who lay by me, like him as he was when he went with the army, so that my own heart was happy. I thought it was no dream, but a waking vision.’ (20.79-90)


Quote 3

(Telemachos:) ‘But if you are determined to murder me with the sharp bronze, then that would be my wish also, since it would be far better than to have to go on watching forever these shameful activities, guests being battered about, or to see you rudely mishandling the serving all about the beautiful palace.’ (20.315-319)

Telemachos shows that he has indeed learned Odysseus’s lessons on honor; he would, like his father, rather die fighting than live humiliated.

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