4, December 2012
Judgment of Odysseus
In Homer’s The Odyssey, Odysseus returns home to find that 117 rowdy suitors, believing Odysseus to be dead, had overrun his palace, courting his faithful though weakening wife, Penelope, and going through his stock of food. Both his servants and the suitors alike abuse Odysseus. Odysseus is outraged and takes his revenge out on the suitors and maids by massacring them with a horrible end. Even though killing anyone sounds like a cruel and unjustified punishment, Odysseus needs to show that he is a strong leader. Odysseus’s actions are justified because of the suitors’ disrespectful behavior towards Odysseus’s family and home. Odysseus said, “You dogs! You never imagined I’d return from Troy—so cocksure that you bled my house to death, ravished my serving-women—wooed my wife behind my back while I was still alive! No fear of the gods who rule the skies up there, no fear that men’s revenge might arrive someday—now all your necks are in the noose—your doom is sealed!” (440)
Odysseus is outraged that the suitors have taken over his home, servants and that they refuse to leave the estates until the Queen has picked a suitor to marry. When Odysseus returned to Ithaca, disguised as a beggar, he was accepted into his original home as a guest. In ancient Greece, one never knew when the beggar knocking at the door might be a god, disguised or else watching from above, passing judgment. During his stay in the castle, the Zokhrabova 2
suitors, Penelope’s maid, Melantho, and one of Odysseus’s goat herders, Melanthius, treated him horribly. Odysseus sees the suitors as a threat and slaughters them before they can turn on him. The Gods, Zeus and Athena support the slaughter of the suitors. “Melanthius? They hauled him out through the doorway, into the court, lopped his nose and ears with a ruthless knife, tore his genitals out for the dogs to eat raw and in manic fury...