Reading The Odyssey (page 3)

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Odysseus returns to his own castle, and the suitors are obnoxiously rude to him. Odysseus enjoys the thought of killing them all for their disrespect. Telemachus erupts in anger at the suitors for being so rude to his, err - uh, guest. Penelope looks suspiciously at the beggar her son has defended. Later that night, as the suitors enjoy the sleep of drunken idiots, Odysseus and Telemachus remove all of their weapons and seal them away. The suitors will be completely at their mercy - excellent.

The next day, Penelope finally proposes a solution to the suitors - the man who can string the great bow of Odysseus and shoot an arrow through twelve axes will become her next husband and take over as King of Ithaca. This, incidentally, is a feat that only Odysseus has ever been able to complete. Think Penelope has a little something up her sleeve?

Each suitor takes his turn and each one fails. W all the men are exhausted, the beggar steps up to take his shot. The suitors, looking forward to making fun of his failure and healing their own injured egos, happily urge him to try. But the beggar, our own Odysseus, steps up confidently, strings the bow easily and shoots through all twelve axes.

And there was much rejoicing!

Sorry, not yet - Odysseus, now armed with his trusty bow turns to the unarmed suitors and slaughters, with the help of Telemachus, each and every one of them. Finally, drenched in blood, the happy family enjoys a loving reunion.

Useful vocabulary in a description of the climax:
  • Artifice - Deception; trickery
  • Melee - A confused struggle
  • Skirmish - A minor battle
  • Vehemence - Violence, forcefulness
  • Flagrant - Clearly wrong

The next morning over bacon and eggs, Odysseus suggests that they may want to lay low for awhile as they have just slaughtered the son of every noble family in the country. There is bound to be some hurt feelings. They journey to the home of Laertes, Odysseus’s father, and after the old disguised-as-a-beggar trick, father and son have time to exchange a hearty handshake, before the knock at the door.

The families of the suitors have tracked Odysseus down, and they demand vengeance, or at least a really good explanation for the cruel murders of their sons. Just in the nick of time, Athena arrives and decides that this story has become way too violent. So she gives each member of the families a memory wipe. They forget the whole messy business … and there was much rejoicing.


Jessica Buck has been both a teacher and Department Head of English at the middle and high school level. She is happily married and currently taking on her greatest teaching challenge, raising their one-year-old daughter.

Updated on Jan 4, 2013
See more activities in: High School, Comprehension
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