A brief overview of "The Odyssey" by Homer.
Book 19:Eurycleia Recognizes Odysseus
Major Character Developments
Penelope: In this book Penelope makes up her mind to challenge the Suitors to an arrow shooting contest the winner of which she will finally take for a husband.
Eurycleia: She once again shows her loyalty to Odysseus after recognizing him and swearing to secrecy his identity.
Melantho: Maid who constantly degrades and insults Odysseus.
At the opening of this book, Odysseus approaches Telemachus and tells him to hide all of the weapons and shields that normally lie around the banquet hall, so that when the time comes there will be nothing for the Suitors to fight and defend themselves with. Acting on the word of his father, Telemachus swiftly calls Eurycleia over to him and relays the order to her so that the weapons can be gathered. With his father carrying a light, the two store the weapons safely away and after Telemachus went to bed. It was at this time that Penelope emerged from her apartment and sat by the fire with her maids, when Melantho again tormented Odysseus with her stinging insults. In retaliation, Odysseus sends sharp words of warning back to her and overhearing the dispute, Penelope scolded Melantho and bade Eurynome to bring a chair for the poor beggar.
Once seated, Penelope began her questioning of the guest and she begged of him his name and parentage. Wanting to avoid the question, Odysseus replied with compliments and the excuse that he was a wearisome man. All the same Penelope asked again and this time Odysseus told her the tale of the man from Crete. As he told Penelope his lies, she wept and he held back the tears from his own eyes. After telling Penelope that he had indeed met Odysseus on his travels, she put him to a test and asked him what he was wearing and what he looked like. The nimble-witted Odysseus described the outfit he had left in, the very cloak and tunic she had woven for him twenty years before. With her belief behind him, Odysseus then told Penelope that Odysseus would be returning soon. Out of gratitude, Penelope then called for a maid to wash his feet to which he asked for the oldest, Eurycleia.
As Eurycleia approached him, she wept for he reminded her dearly of Odysseus. He then turned himself into the shadows of the fire, for he knew that she would very well recognize the scar upon his foot. The scar he had received as a child at his grandfather, Antolycus’, estate from a boar during the hunt. When she did find the scar, she let his foot drop, spilling all of the water from the basin and he grabbed her by the throat and warned her to keep his identity secret, to which she swore a solemn oath. After Eurycleia was finished washing his feet, Odysseus again spoke with Penelope who wished for him to interpret a dream of hers. Her dream was of her flock of geese that were all killed by an eagle that swooped down and attacked, then the eagle spoke as a human would and told her that he was Odysseus returned and that the geese were her Suitors now dead.
Book 20: Prelude to the Crisis
Major Character Developments
Telemachus: In this book Telemachus demonstrates the qualities of a man rather than a boy, he begins to take charge of the situation in the banquet hall and outright vocalizes his claims to his father’s property whereas before he sat quietly by the wayside and openly allowed the misuse of the property by the Suitors.
Philoetius: A cowherd, who like Eumaeus still remains steadfastedly loyal to Odysseus.
As Odysseus lay down to sleep a group of traitorous maids, all women of the Suitors walked past him giggling and this sight sent a shock of anger through Odysseus of which he found hard to contain. After a great time of tossing and turning, trying to plot the demise of the wretched Suitors, Athene came down to him and brought him blessed sleep. Penelope, however, awoke just as Odysseus was closing his eyes. She wept and cried to the gods to take her away from this life, to take her into the abyss with her husband, for again she had awoken thinking that he was lying next to her looking as he did when he first left twenty years before.
Odysseus was roused by the sound of Penelope’s weeping and he prayed to the gods for an omen, to which the mighty Zeus sent a roar of thunder and a maiden claimed the prophesy. Around this time all of the maids in the palace were beginning to wake and Telemachus addressed Eurycleia on the poor bed that had been lain for Odysseus. Eurycleia, however, told Telemachus that that meager bed was all the man would take before she went off and commanded the maidens to prepare the palace for the day. That morning, as Odysseus arose he met again with Eumaeus and with the cowherd Philoetius, both of whom cried out their loyalties to Odysseus and bade doom for the Suitors.
Before reentering the palace, Odysseus was again tormented by Melanthius, before Telemachus took charge, scolded him and brought a meager seat and table to the threshold for his guest.
*Notes based off reading from The Odyssey by Homer