Study Guide

The Odyssey Book 24

By Homer

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Book 24

  • In the meantime, Hermes is leading the suitors' ghosts to the Underworld.
  • There, the shades of Achilleus and Agamemnon exchange their stories about the Trojan War. Actually, Achilleus talks about the Trojan war, while Agamemnon is still rattling on about getting killed by his unfaithful wife and her lover. Get over it already, man!
  • When they see the suitors' shades entering, Agamemnon asks why they are here.
  • We get a three minute version of everything we've just read, courtesy of a suitor named Amphimedon, who amazingly blames everything on Penelope.
  • Agamemnon rejoices for Odysseus, happy that the man has such a faithful wife. Unlike his own.
  • Back in the land of the living, Odysseus reaches Laertes' garden lands; he sends Telemachos and the herdsmen up to the hut to prepare a good meal.
  • Odysseus finds his father alone, ragged, and plowing the land dejectedly. He decides to test him to see if he is still loyal.
  • We would expect nothing less from Odysseus at this point.
  • Odysseus insults Laertes' appearance and then says his name is Quarrelman and he once housed Odysseus on his journey home.
  • Laertes is grateful to the man for helping his son, but doesn't believe Odysseus is back. He obviously fell for the story that the screams of agony coming from the palace were mere wedding noises.
  • Finally, Odysseus gives up the ruse and throws his arms around his father, confessing who he really is.
  • Laertes… still doesn't believe him. He wants proof. Odysseus shows him his thigh scar.
  • Their reunion is very emotional.
  • They go back to the farmhouse where the other men have prepared a meal. Laertes is joyous and Athene makes him look young again.
  • Meanwhile, in town, people have heard about the massive slaughter of yesterday in Odysseus' hall, so apparently that brilliant wedding cover-up didn't work at all.
  • Eupeithes clamors for revenge before a council and is approved.
  • Odysseus' friends—Phemios, Medon, and Halitherses—tell the council that the gods are on Odysseus' side and warn the townspeople not to spill blood over this.
  • But Eupeithes, an old man who, it turns out, is the late Antinoös' father, wants Odysseus to die. In the heavens, Athene approaches Zeus to ask whether it is his will that blood be shed in revenge.
  • Zeus basically shrugs and says that peace can only come about by mutual contract and agreement. In other words, the people have to accept Odysseus as king.
  • Instead, they march to Laertes' land, armed to kill Odysseus.
  • Odysseus' friends are ready to fight, and Laertes actually manages to kill Eupeithes with a spear right in the helmet.
  • Athene shouts for the skirmish to end and the people stop, scared by the goddess who apparently got past her desire for blood and vengeance and now is all about peace.
  • She orders Odysseus to stop the battle or Zeus will be angry, leading us to believe she didn't really listen to Zeus' words at all.
  • Ugh, FINE. Odysseus stops, both parties swear to peace with Athene as their witness, and Ithaka is finally back to normal.

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