the odyssey – coming home

Freshman Composition & Literature
Mr. Murphy
Pd: 1 3 4 6 7 Date:
The Odyssey – Part 2 – Coming Home
In book 13 of the Odyssey, Odysseus returns home to Ithaca to find that his son has been looking for him, and his house
is full of other men (suitors) attempting to get Penelope, Odysseus’ wife, to marry them. Athena tells Odysseus to dress
as an old beggar, and sneak into Ithaca so he does not get attacked by his wife’s suitors. With the help of a swineherd he
meets his son – Telemachus – first in a tear-filled reunion, when his son mistakes him first for a beggar and then for a
god. Telemachus returns to Penelope, and Odysseus (still dressed as a beggar) travels with the swineherd into Ithaca,
where he is recognized by Argos, a dog that he trained as a puppy, and Eurycleia, a loyal servant from his household.
Odysseus one again meets up with Telemachus, and they decide that the suitors must be dealt with. They propose that
Penelope should test the suitors, an idea that Odysseus gives to her while he is still dressed as a beggar. The test that
she gives them is to string and fire Odysseus’ bow, a feat which none of the suitors can accomplish. Odysseus, still
dressed in rags, asks to try the task. Penelope agrees, but returns inside before seeing it complete. Odysseus gently
strings the bow, aims, and fires an arrow through the sockets of twelve iron axe handles. Telemachus, who had taken
away all of the suitors weapons, uses this as the cue to join his father in the front of the hall.
Death at the Palace: (page 941-943)
1. If this is the climax of the story, what major question do you expect to have answered in this section?
2. Why does he go for Antinous first?
3. What does Eurymachus offer to Odysseus (lines 1264-1280)? What does this tell you about his character?
4. What two things has Odysseus done that made it nearly impossible for the suitors to “fight their way out”?
5. Why does the appearance of Athena’s shield cause such great fear? (Hint: who is Athena, and why would she
give someone her shield?)
6. What happened to the suitors?
Odysseus and Penelope: (page 944-947)
1. Do you think that the punishment fits the crimes for the maids?
2. Why did it take Penelope so long to recognize Odysseus?
3. What was the secret the Penelope tested Odysseus with?
4. The long journey ends with an embrace – what simile is presented at the end of the text that helps you
understand the joy that Odysseus feels in her arms?