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The Odyssey Book 23 Summary
Eurykleia goes to Penelope with the news that Odysseus is back. Penelope doesn't believe her, thinking she's gone mad. Seriously, did she not hear that battle going down? Even when Eurykleia tells her that all the suitors are dead, Penelope thinks some strange hero has come to deliver her, not her husband. Still, the stubborn woman finally comes down from her room and sees Odysseus. Now she can finally accept the fact that he's back. Except not. Telemachos begs her to just talk to the guy, but Penelope insists that if this were Odysseus, he would know their secret signs. Odysseus smiles knowingly. Because he's worried about facing repercussions for killing, oh, all the noblemen of the country, he orders that the household keep the slaughter of the suitors a secret from the rest of Ithaka. He has a brilliant plan: they'll plan a dancing feast tonight so they can pretend that all the noise was just Penelope's wedding! As Odysseus is cleaning himself up, Athene makes him more handsome to the eye. (Another goddess makeover.) When Odysseus sits down beside Penelope that night, she tells him that he can sleep outside her room, on the bed that Odysseus carved years ago. At this point Odysseus snaps, asking who dared move his bed. Apparently, he built the entire bedroom around a huge olive tree and carved the bed straight from the roots, so it totally can't be moved. This is the secret that Penelope referenced earlier; she rushes into Odysseus's arms in tears and begs his forgiveness. The two rejoice, make love, and exchange stories of the twenty long years. Except we're betting there are certain bits Odysseus leaves out, such as sleeping with Circe, having sex with Kalypso for seven years, and that offer of marriage to Nausikaa. Athene makes time go slower so that the couple can enjoy their night together and still get enough sleep. Nice to have a goddess on your side! The following morning, Odysseus announces that he will visit his grieving father. He orders the women to go upstairs and lock themselves up to stay safe from any potential avengers from town. Odysseus takes Telemachos and his faithful herdsmen with him to see Laertes. Athene adds her protection by hiding them in…yes, you got it, a cloud shaped oddly like a group of traveling men.
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