Book Notes Book 15 Notes from The Odyssey

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The Odyssey Book 15

Athena travels to Sparta and finds Telemachus with Nestor's son Peisistratos at the house of Menelaus. He is awake even though it is night time and she tells him to end his journey and go home. He is to tell Menelaus that Penelope's family is forcing her to marry Eurymachus and if he does not return home he will lose all his possessions. She also warns him that some of the suitors are waiting in ambush but reassures him that the immortals will give him a swift wind home. She advises that when he gets to Ithaca he should stay one night with the swineherd. When she leaves, Telemachus wakes up Peisistratos and tells him that it is time to leave. The son of Nestor responds:

"It is still night,
and no moon. Can we drive now? We can not,
itch as we may for the road home. Dawn is near;
allow the captain of the spearmen, Menelaos,
time to pack our car with gifts and time
to speak a gracious word, sending us off.
A guest remembers all of his days
that host who makes provisions for him kindly."
Book 15, lines 68-75

Dawn comes and Telemachus goes to Menelaus and asks him to send him home. Menelaus tells him that he is free to go but he wants to accompany him part of the journey. Telemachus tells him that he must go quickly to protect his belongings and the king prepares everything for him. Helen gives him a beautiful robe for his future bride. They eat breakfast and afterwards Menelaus bids the two young men farewell. As the king speaks there is an omen of an eagle killing a white goose. Peisistratos asks Menelaus to read the omen and he says it is a sign that Odysseus will return to his house in fury. Telemachus prays to Zeus that he is right and rides off. They travel through the day and when they near Pylos, Telemachus appeals to Peisistratos and their new friendship, asking if he will allow him to go straight to the ship and not stop in Pylos where Nestor is sure to detain him. Peisistratos agrees and they avoid the city. Telemachus calls his crew together and loads his new gifts. They ready the ship as Telemachus prays to Athena. At that moment a wandering man skilled in prophecy arrives. The man, Theoklymenos, murdered someone near Argos and had been expelled. His father had been expelled from Pylos. He approaches Telemachus and advises him to make a libation before they go to sea. He explains why he was pushed from his city and asks Telemachus for space on the ship. Telemachus gives it to him. They sail away quickly with Athena's wind propelling them.

That night Eumaius and Odysseus eat again and Odysseus tests Eumaius to see if he is still hospitable:

"At daybreak I must go and try my luck
around the port. I burden you too long.
Direct me, put me on the road with someone.
Nothing else for it but to play the beggar."
Book 15, lines 381-4

Eumaius will not allow Odysseus to go beg and he insists that he stay with him. Odysseus blesses him for all his kindness and then he asks him to tell him about Odysseus' mother and father. Eumaius tells him that Laertes still lives but wants to die and that his wife did die from sorrow. Eumaius was brought up by Odysseus mother with her daughter. He tells Odysseus that he became a slave as a child. He asks Eumaius about his homeland and Eumaius tells him of an island where there are not many people but there are two towns both of which were ruled by his father. When he was very small a group of Phoenician sailors came ashore for trading and stayed over a year. One of the sailors seduced a Phoenician servant of the king and promised to take her back to Sidon when they left if she brought goods with her. After the year was up she joined them with treasures and the young son of the king to sell as a slave. They sailed for six days and the woman died. The Phoenicians sold the boy to Laertes in Ithaca. Odysseus is saddened by the tale and asks him if he hasn't had at least had some good in his life. The two men talk into the night.

Telemachus approaches Ithaca and they stop on another part of the island and the ship returns leaving Telemachus. He has another of his crew lodge Theoklymenos for the night promising to fetch him the next day. A hawk attacks a dove in an omen and the feathers fall between them. Theoklymenos tells him that this means that his family will be powerful. Telemachus puts on his sandals and goes into the forest to find the house of Eumaius.

Topic Tracking: Journeys 10
Topic Tracking: Guests and Hosts 11

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