A brief overview of "The Odyssey" by Homer.
Book 15: Telemachus Returns
New Major Characters
Theoclymenus: A seer and wanderer who begs Telemachus for safe passage on his ship and foresees Telemachus’ continuation of power in Ithaca.
In order to hasten his return journey, the goddess Athene rushed back to the city of King Menelaus and urged the young Telemachus to leave for Ithaca. She reminded him of the troubles waiting for him at home and what could become of his mother and estate if he stayed away much longer. Telemachus immediately woke Peisistratus and urged him to leave, but out of respect they waited ’till Dawn arose, fresh and rosy fingered, and Menelaus bade them farewell with a feast and gifts. He sent them with a golden cup, a silver bowl and from the lovely Helen, a beautiful gown for Telemachus to give to a bride. It was as they were saying good-bye when an eagle, goose in talons, swooped before them as an omen from the gods.
With this good sign in their hearts the two left and rode clear into the night stopping only to rest at the house Diocles and in the morning they left again. That next day, as their horses labored and the chariot neared Pylos, Telemachus asked Peisistratus to leave him by his boat so that he may leave immediately rather than be held in Pylos by the overly hospitable King Nestor. As a close friend, Peisistratus agreed, even knowing that his father would be angry, and he dropped Odysseus and his gifts by his black ship and bade them embark at once. Without any hesitation, Telemachus ordered his crew to prepare the ship and its tackle and after they were ready, he stood at the ship’s stern praying and making libations to the goddess Athene. It was at this time that Theoclymenus, a seer, came to Telemachus and begged him for sanctuary upon his ship, for he had killed one of his blood and the men of Argos were short behind him, wanting to kill him. Telemachus granted the young Theoclymenus passage to Ithaca on his black ship.
Back in the hut of the good Eumaeus, Odysseus asked him how it was that he came to be in the service of his father Laertes. At this the good Eumaeus began and told how as a child, he was the son of a king, his nurse had betrayed them all after being seduced by a Phoenician sailor. She stole riches from their palace and took him, the young boy that he was, on the ship to be sold as a slave. The gods, however, punished this wretched woman and her dead corpse was thrown over the ship, soon after they landed in Ithaca and that was where kind Laertes purchased Eumaeus and his wife raised him like her own until he was old enough to work the land.
As Telemachus reached the shores of his beloved Ithaca, he looked over the estate and took it in before commanding his crew to take the ship to the city and leave him behind in the country, for although he could not tell them, he had business with the swineherd. It was then that Theoclymenus asked where and whom he was to stay with to which the good Telemachus responded by entrusting him with his most loyal crewman, Peiraeus. With all of his business taken care of, Telemachus made his way to the hut of his loyal swineherd.
Book 16: Odysseus Meets His Son
Odysseus: Here he is finally removed from his beggars disguise and from the shadow of misfortune that has long since followed him. It shows not only a change in his physical appearance but also in his attitude and luck.
Telemachus: In this scene his hopes of finding his father have finally been fulfilled and in a way a part of him that was lost is found, for now he has the gumption to take on the Suitors whereas before he was much more passive.
Medon: The herald who tells Penelope of the Suitors’ plan to murder the young Telemachus.
The wagging of dog’s tales and the whisper of footsteps was the signal given to Odysseus that his son was approaching the swineherd’s hut. As the god-like Telemachus entered the hut, Odysseus the beggar stood and the swineherd made him a seat so that they could eat of the meat and wine Eumaeus had to offer. After eating and having their fill, Telemachus bade Eumaeus to go and tell his mother, in secret, of his return home so that she would no longer need to worry. The loyal man left at once and the beggar and his son were left alone. The goddess Athene directly showed herself to Odysseus and drew him out of the hut to give him instructions and to remove the glamour she had put upon him. Looking again young and fresh, Odysseus returned to the humble hut a new man and embraced his son with tears and kisses. Telemachus cowered at the sight of what he took to be a god, for only gods could change their face so easily, but the more Odysseus spoke he came to recognize the man before him and embraced his father.
While Eumaeus was away, father and son plotted revenge on the Suitors and hatched a most lethal scheme. Before the loyal man returned, Athene again touched the noble Odysseus with her golden wand and again he took on the guise of a beggar. Meanwhile, the Suitors now aware of Telemachus’ return, gathered in the Assembly hall and plotted to kill the noble prince. A herald, Medon, who had overheard the treacheries of the ungrateful Suitors, returned at once to Penelope and warned her of their schemes. Infuriated, Penelope went before the Suitors, her shining veil pulled across her cheeks and she called out their leader Antinous. To this the deceitful Eurymachus falsely assured the queen that no harm would befall her son by their hands.
When Eumaeus reentered the hut he sat with Telemachus and the beggar and told them of what he saw. He told them of the black ship he saw in the harbor and the mass of men with double-edged swords and shields, to which Telemachus knew to be the remaining Suitors and he made a signal to his father. That night they slept, satisfied from hunger and reunited.
*Notes based off reading from The Odyssey by Homer