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Book 23

The Odyssey – Book 23 Odysseus & Penelope (Context)


·        Eurycleia goes to Penelope with the news that Odysseus is back.

·        Penelope doesn't believe her, thinking she's gone mad.

·        Even when Eurycleia tells her that all the Suitors are dead, Penelope thinks some strange hero has come to deliver her, not her husband.

·        Still, the stubborn woman finally comes down from her room and sees Odysseus.

·        Except not.

·        Telemachus begs her to just talk to Odysseus, but Penelope insists that if this were him, he would know their secret signs.

·        Odysseus smiles knowingly.

·        Because he's worried about facing repercussions for killing, most of the noblemen of the country, he orders that the household keep the slaughter of the Suitors a secret from the rest of Ithaca.

·        He has a brilliant plan: they'll plan a dancing feast tonight so they can pretend that all the noise was just Penelope's wedding!

·        As Odysseus is cleaning himself up, Athene makes him more handsome to the eye. (Another goddess makeover.)

·        When Odysseus sits down beside Penelope that night, she tells him that he can sleep outside her room, on the bed that Odysseus carved years ago.

·        At this point Odysseus snaps, asking who dared move his bed. Apparently, he built the entire bedroom around a huge olive tree and carved the bed straight from the roots, so it totally can't be moved.

·        This is the secret that Penelope referenced earlier; she rushes into Odysseus's arms in tears and begs his forgiveness.

·        The two rejoice, make love, and exchange stories of the twenty long years.

·        Except we're betting there are certain bits Odysseus leaves out, such as sleeping with Circe, having sex with Calypso for seven years, and that offer of marriage to Nausicaa.

·        Athene makes time go slower so that the couple can enjoy their night together and still get enough sleep.

·        The following morning, Odysseus announces that he will visit his grieving father.

·        He orders the women to go upstairs and lock themselves up to stay safe from any potential avengers from town.

·        Odysseus takes Telemachus and his faithful herdsmen with him to see Laertes. Athene adds her protection by hiding them in a cloud shaped oddly like a group of traveling men.