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Book 22

The Odyssey – Book 22 The Battle in the Hall (Context)

Summary

·        First up, Antinous. Odysseus strikes him with an arrow to the throat while he's drinking wine.

·        Realizing that their weapons are gone, the Suitors scatter.

·        Eurymachus begs for Odysseus to have mercy on the rest of the Suitors, now that he's killed the worst of them (that would be Antinous). Odysseys does not agree.

·        So, Eurymachus tries to rally the Suitors to fight Odysseus, who responds by promptly killing Eurymachus with an arrow to the heart.

·        As Amphinomus rushes Odysseus, Telemachus stops him with a spear to the heart.

·        Telemachus then runs to the storage room, grabbing more weapons, and arming the four allies (Odysseus, himself, Eumaeus, and Philoetius).

·        Melanthius sees Telemachus go to the storage room and arms the Suitors.

·        Odysseus is none too happy to see that the Suitors suddenly have weapons.

·        Telemachus knows it's his fault for leaving the storage room door open and confesses it to Odysseus, who orders the two herdsmen to follow Melanthius, tie him up, and lock him in the storage room so he can do no more harm. They obey.

·        Athene arrives, disguised as Mentor. Odysseus recognizes her for who she is and calls help.

·        The Suitors beg Mentor not to help Odysseus, threatening him with death if he does.

·        She turns to Odysseus and tells him to show his skills.

·        But she holds back. Odysseus and Telemachus have yet to prove themselves worthy of her assistance. She watches her two little pet mortals from the roof and passively protects them while they pick off Suitors one by one.

·        At last, Athene's sign—the aegis or "great shield"—shines in the air in the hall and the Suitors realize that Odysseus has godly help, and the Suitors beg for mercy.

·        Odysseus spares only Phemius the singer and Medon, because Telemachus swears they're loyal. Finally all the Suitors are dead.

·        Odysseus calls for Eurycleia to bring all the unfaithful maids to him.

·        Of the fifty maids in the household, twelve have proved disloyal. Odysseus forces them to drag the corpses of the Suitors outside and clean the hall.

·        He orders his son to then hack the disgraceful women to pieces outside, but Telemachus thinks this is too noble a death for these "sluts." Instead, he hangs them, which is apparently worse than being hacked to pieces.

·        Then the good guys torture and kill Melanthius.

·        Odysseus orders Eurycleia to bring brimstone, a brazier, and medicinal herbs so he can purify the great hall.

·        Apparently, so does Eurycleia, since she tries to get him to clean up first. He refuses.

·        Odysseus purifies the hall, and all the maids and servants who remain with many hugs and tears.

 

A succession of people beg for mercy. Odysseus has to decide, with Telemachus’ help, how to respond to each request.

·        Leodes (who acted as the Suitors’ priest) claims that he tried to restrain the behaviour of the other Suitors – Odysseus answers that if Leodes Acted as their priest then each day he must have prayed that Odysseus wouldn’t return and that Penelope must “bear your children”. His punishment is to be instantly beheaded: “his head fell in the dust even before he had stopped speaking”.

·        Phemius (the bard) clasps Odysseus by the knees (as a suppliant) and tells him that he will regret killing a bard, who has received his gift from the gods; he says that he was compelled to sing for the Suitors through brute force and sheer numbers. Telemachus tells Odysseus that Phemius is innocent, and he is spared.

·        Medon (the herald): Telemachus asks Odysseus to spare Medon, who is found cowering under a chair, wrapped up in an ox-hide. Odysseus agrees to spare him (he has also been mentioned as a loyal servant in Books 4, 16 & 17).

 


 

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