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Book 13 Notes from The Odyssey

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The Odyssey Book 13

Odysseus ends his tale and Alcinous assures him that his wanderings are over for good. He calls to the lords and asks them to add a tripod and a cauldron each to Odysseus' treasures. In the morning he steps onto the ships he is going to lend to Odysseus and then makes a sacrifice to Zeus as Demodokos continues to sing. Odysseus keeps turning to the sun waiting for the day to end so that he may return home after so many years. When it is night, Odysseus is happy as Alcinous blesses him and they drink from the wine bowl. Odysseus puts his goblet in the hands of Arete saying "Live in felicity,/ and make this palace lovely for your children,/ your countrymen and your king" Book 13, lines 75-7. He goes to the sea with his new crew and sets off in the night. He sleeps while the ship speeds and they pull up near Ithaca at dawn. The sailors pull into a special cove and unload Odysseus as he is sleeping. They stow all of his goods in the roots of an olive tree and turn around to go home. Poseidon goes to Zeus and complains that Odysseus has been returned home without a sacrifice to him. Zeus tells him to do as he thinks appropriate and when the ship nears the bay of Skheria Poseidon turned the ship and the sailors into stone. At first the people wonder who would moor so far out of the bar, but Alcinous speaks to them:

"The present doom upon the ship - on me-
my father prophesied in the olden time.
If we gave safe conveyance to all passengers
we should incur Poseidon's wrath, he said,
whereby one day a fair ship, manned by Phaiakians,
would come to grief at the god's hands"
Book 13, lines 215-220

Alcinous decrees that they will no longer give passage to all wanderers and that they should sacrifice twelve bulls to Poseidon. Odysseus wakes but does not recognize his home. Athena covers him in a mist to hide him and he is worried that he is in another strange land and doesn't know what to do with the treasure. He thinks first that he was betrayed but when he finds that none of the treasure was stolen he thinks otherwise. Athena comes to him in the shape of a shepherd. He asks her to help him store his treasure and to tell him where he has landed. Athena replies that he must be a fool not to know what country he is in. She goes over the wonderful attributes of Ithaca. He replies, lying, that he is a refugee from Crete who killed the son of the king there because he wanted to take away his plunder from Troy. He tells her that he paid some men to take him away from Crete and they left him here. Athena smiles and reveals herself to him and tells him to stop being crafty. She asks if he even guessed that it was Athena and not a shepherd. She tells him that she planned for him to come to the island with the new wealth. He doubts that he is in Ithaca and tells her to prove it. She gets a little frustrated with him and describes the cove in which he landed and he kisses the earth because he knows he is home. She tells him to have courage and that they are going to hide the treasure in a cave nearby and then decide what to do next. They move all the treasure and Athena speaks to Odysseus:

"Son of Laertes and the gods of old,
Odysseus, master of land ways and sea ways,
put your mind on a way to reach and strike
a crowd of brazen upstarts. Three long years
they have played master in your house: three years
trying to win your lovely lady, making
gifts as though betrothed."
Book 13, lines 468-73

Odysseus laments about his wife's situation and realizes that he could have ended up like Agamemnon. She tells him not to be afraid because she will be there to support him. She tells him that she will disguise him as an old man so that no one will recognize him and that he should go stay with the swineherd while she retrieves Telemachus. Odysseus asks why they shouldn't tell Telemachus that his father has returned and She says that Telemachus has his own troubles with the sailors waiting in ambush. She changes him into an old man and then leaves to find Telemachus.

Topic Tracking: Guests and Hosts 9
Topic Tracking: Disguise and Deceit 6

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