THE ODYSSEY
BOOKS 13 - 24
THE RETURN OF ODYSSEUS

The second half of the Odyssey equals the first; Homer evidently balancing the JOURNEY and the HOMECOMING.

So the Return is cleverly articulated in careful stages - we have already seen how ATHENA enters the stage and watches over Odysseus and his son from 13 - 24. We can see the narrative as

A (Under Athena’s guidance) a series of FACTUAL EVENTS. Forward moves alternate with set-backs; but each set-back increases our sympathy with Odysseus and our disgust with the suitors. It seems as if Odysseus has a number of TESTS to pass, (of which the BOW is the most obvious). These events are presumably old folk tales, woven up by Homer: The Swineherd’s hut - Telemachus - the Palace - Irus - the Bow - the Battle - Penelope.

B But Homer weaves into this fabric a series of DISGUISES, FALSE TALES , RECOGNITIONS and REVELATIONS, along with constant DREAMS, PROPHECIES and OMENS of Odysseus’ return and revenge - thus making the story a psychological drama - of suspense and excitement. Here is a brief tabulation of these. Look up the reference and note down the page number (NB page references in the table are to the old Rieu translation)

Book
Disguise/False Tale
Recognition/Revelation
Dream/Omen etc
13

Ithaca in mist 207
Athena in disguise 208
Od. False Tale 1 209
Od. disguised by Athena 213 bottom

Athena recognises Odysseus, and reveals herself 210
Ithaca revealed 211

Athene foresees suitors’ death 212b

14 Od: F.T. 2 and 3 to Eumaus (TEST of Eumaus) Eumaus reveals much about himself and life in Ithaca Od. prophesies return 219 middle .Eumaus quotes prophecy and Od. takes bet. 225
15 (T.’s return)(Theoclymenus)   eagle and goose: Helen
hawk and dove: Theo
16 Od. still disguised (TEST of T.) then re-disguised 257 Od. reveals himself to T. 250 the task of revenge outlined in cold fact 251
17 Od. still disguised;
F.T.4 to suitors 270



only dog Argus recognises him 267



T.: “day of reckoning” 260
T. quotes Menelaus “swift death and sorry wedding” 262
Theo.:"Od. in Ithaca now". 263t Pen. interprets T.’s sneeze. 273
18 (In Palace. Irus etc)   Od. to suitors: “he is near.”280
T’s prayer 282
19 (Pen. Eurycleia etc)
F.T.5 to Pen. 292
Eurycleia recognises scar 298 (but shut up) 300 Od.’s forecast 295;
Od. interprets Pen.’ dream 302
20 (preparation)
Od. TESTS cowherd 310
  Od. and Pen. both dream of each other -thunder 306; 310; 313b
Theo. sees blood at the evil feast 315
21 TEST of the BOW Od. revealed to Eumaus and Philoetius 321 thunderclap; 326 banquet
22 (Battle) Od. revealed to the suitors the omens fulfilled
23 END of DISGUISE 345
Pen.’s caution
Pen. TESTS Od. - the BED
Odyseus revealed to Penelope
the climax
 
24 (story of P.’s weaving repeated, her craft and loyalty 354-6)
F.T.6 to Laertes 358-9
Od. revealed to Laertes (even he demands proof) 359-60 and to faithful old Dolius 361  

C. Scupham