The Odyssey Book Summaries
Summary of Book Twenty-Three (up to line 203) • Eurycleia goes upstairs to call Penelope, who has slept through the entire fight, and tells her what’s happened. Penelope doesn’t believe her, even when she comes downstairs and sees Odysseus with her own eyes. • Telemachus rebukes Penelope for not greeting Odysseus more lovingly, but Odysseus is more worried about the parents of all the suitors he just killed. He decides that he and his family will need to lay low at their farm for a while. • In the meantime, a minstrel strikes up a happy song so that no passers-by will suspect what has taken place in the palace.
Summary of Book Twenty-Three(up to line 203) • Odysseus is ready to go to sleep, but Penelope, still unsure that Odysseus was who he said he was, tells Eurycleia to move their bed out of their marital bedroom first. • Odysseus becomes enraged and says…
Summary of Book Twenty-Three(line 230-end) • Penelope finally believes Odysseus and rushes to embrace him. They cry in each other’s arms. • Odysseus again suggests they go to bed, but first Penelope makes him tell her about everything he experienced at sea. • He also tells her about the trip that he must make to fulfill the prophecy of Tiresias in Book 11: find a landlocked people; plant his oar in the earth; sacrifice a ram, a bull, and a boar to Poseidon; and then return home for a gentle, painless death.
Summary of Book Twenty-Three(line 230-end) • The next day, Odysseus leaves with Telemachus for his final mission. He gives Penelope instructions not to leave her room or receive any visitors. • Athena cloaks Odysseus and Telemachus in darkness so that no one will see them as they walk through the town.
Summary of Book Twenty-Four • Hermes leads the souls of the suitors, crying like bats, into Hades. They complain to Agamemnon about Penelope—weaving a web, seducing them for four years while leading them to their deaths. Agamemnon praises Penelope for her faithfulness and good sense, and Odysseus for choosing such a wife. • Back in Ithaca, Odysseus travels to Laertes’ farm. He sends his servants into the house so that he can be alone with his father in the gardens. Odysseus doesn’t immediately reveal himself, pretending instead that he is someone who once knew and befriended Odysseus. But when Laertes begins to cry at the memory of Odysseus, Odysseus throws his arms around Laertes and kisses him. He proves his identity with the scar and with his memories of the fruit trees that Laertes gave him when he was a little boy. He tells Laertes how he has avenged himself upon the suitors.
Summary of Book Twenty-Four • Laertes and Odysseus have lunch with Dolius, the father of Melanthius (suitor) and Melantho (maid). While they eat, the goddess Rumor flies through the city, spreading the news of the massacre. • The parents of the suitors hold an assembly. Halitherses, the elder prophet, says the suitors got what they deserved for their wickedness. Eupithes, Antinous’s father, urges revenge on Odysseus.
Summary of Book Twenty-Four • Their small army tracks Odysseus to Laertes’ house, but Athena, disguised again as Mentor, puts a stop to the violence by shouting for them to “hold back…from brutal war!” and “make peace at once!” Eupithesis the only one killed, by Laertes. • Athena makes the Ithacans forget the massacre of their children and recognize Odysseus as king. Peace is thus restored.