The Odyssey


Books 17 to 20

Book 17 Summary

Telemachus leaves the swineherd’s hut to return to the palace, where he is greeted joyfully by his faithful nurse and then by Penelope. Telemachus gives his happy mother news of his journey. The soothsayer, Theoclymenus, whom Telemachus brought back with him, prophesies that Odysseus has returned to Ithaca and is preparing his next action. Penelope hopes that the soothsayer is correct, but does not quite believe it.

Meanwhile, Eumaeus walks into town with Odysseus, who is still disguised as an old beggar. There they are harassed by Melanthius, a brash goatherd. Odysseus also encounters his faithful old dog, Argos, who, with his canine instincts, sees past Odysseus’s disguise and recognizes his former master. Eumaeus and Odysseus go to the palace, where they are greeted with scorn by Antinous and the other suitors. Odysseus insults Antinous, who then throws a stool at him. Penelope is horrified at this cruel treatment of the poor beggar. She tells Eumaeus to bring the beggar to her so that she can question him for any news of her husband. Odysseus sends Eumaeus back to Penelope with the message that they should postpone their meeting until sunset so that the suitors will not interfere. Eumaeus then leaves the palace to tend his swine, leaving Odysseus and Telemachus together with the suitors.

Book 18 Summary

Irus, an argumentative beggar whom the suitors find amusing, enters the palace and insults Odysseus. For entertainment, Antinous puts both beggars into a boxing ring against one another. Although Odysseus still appears old and frail, Athena gives him increased strength and he easily defeats Irus. Amphinomus, the least despicable of the suitors, congratulates Odysseus and drinks to his health. Taking pity on the man, who is clearly not as evil as the other suitors, Odysseus attempts to warn him that vengeance will soon fall upon the suitors and that he should get away from the palace. Although these words fill Amphinomus with dread, he does not leave. Unbeknownst to him, Athena...

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Essays About The Odyssey