A brief overview of "The Odyssey" by Homer.
Book 21: The Great Bow
Major Character Developments
Antinous: Leader of the Suitors, feels that he has more of a claim to Penelope and that he is undefeatable.
Prompted by the goddess, Athene, Penelope went to the store-room with a great bronze key and pulled from that hold of riches the supple bow that Iphitus had given Odysseus years since. She then addressed the Suitors and told them that whomever could string the bow and loose an arrow through the rings of twelve axes, just as Odysseus used to, then that would be the man worthy of her marriage. She then handed the bow to Eumaeus, who cried for the sake of his master. Antinous, however, criticized the swineherd’s weeping and belittled him.
It was then that Telemachus stood and addressed the Suitors himself, and told them all that he would give his mother to the best shooter, but that the bow was his to give or take and that he himself would try to have a shot on it to see if he was much the man his father once was. He then leapt from his seat, taking off his purple cloak and proceeded to test the bow. For two tries he was unable to string the bow, but on the third he put more effort into it than he had before and had his father not given him the signal to stop what he was doing, he probably would have strung the bow. The Suitors then began to test the bow, but of those who tried none were able to string the bow. Finally Antinous called a recess and bade Melanthius to start the fires and bring a bowl of tallow to warm and grease the bow with.
At this time, Odysseus made his way outside where he encountered the cowherd and the loyal swineherd and he asked them where their loyalties stood. When both of them made prayers to the great god Zeus, Odysseus revealed himself to them and instructed them to do the following; to Eumaeus he told to bring him the bow and to tell Eurycleia to lock herself and the maids in their chambers and to not let them leave under any circumstance. To Philoetius he told to lock and bar the main gate out of the palace so that none of the Suitors could escape once the fighting had begun.
When Odysseus reentered the hall he asked to have a shot at the bow, but Antinous and the other Suitors, fearing that he might actually be able to do it, made excuses and taunted him. It was then that Penelope and Telemachus spoke up for the beggar’s turn and in turn Eumaeus brought the bow to Odysseus, who proceeded to string it with ease and still sitting on his stool, loose an arrow straight through all twelve axes.
Book 22: The Battle in the Hall
Odysseus then threw off his rags and revealed himself to the Suitors and Telemachus took his side. He launched the arrows that were at his feet, taking first the life of the ignoble Antinous. Eurymachus then stood and questioned the validity of this stranger who suddenly called himself Odysseus before charging at him, sword in hand. Before he could reach his target though, Odysseus sent an arrow through his head. Next was Amphinomus who lunged at Odysseus but was slain through the back by Telemachus’ spear. The Suitors then began to search the walls for the swords and shields that normally lingered there, but none could they find.
Meanwhile, Telemachus along with the cowherd and the swineherd, went down to the store-room to fetch the four of them armor and spears. When they returned, however, Melanthius the cunning devil that he was noted that the store-room had been left open and went himself to fetch weapons for the Suitors. Telemachus and the herders followed Melanthius to the store-room and there tied him up to the top of the rafter. All the while, the Suitors were coming at the four men in droves, launching their spears at them and always missing, the goddess Athene made sure to that, and in retaliation the four brave men sent their spears flying back, they found their mark each time.
Leodes then came to Odysseus’ knees and begged forgiveness, but Odysseus knew that the man was lying and took his head. The minstrel came to his knees next to beg and Telemachus vouched for the man and another, both of whom Odysseus allowed to leave unscathed. After all the men were naught but piles of corpses and dirt, Odysseus instructed Telemachus to bring out Eurycleia whom he asked, of which of his maids remained loyal. The traitorous maids he doomed to clean up the corpses of their illicit lovers and then he hung them to death. After Eurycleia went and brought out the good women and they showered Odysseus with praises and kisses.
*Notes based off reading from “The Odyssey” by Homer