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Book 20 Notes from The Odyssey

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The Odyssey Book 20

Odysseus makes his bed outside in the entry way and lies there without sleeping. Many women pass him on their way to the beds of the suitors and he wants to stop them but restrains himself. He tosses and turns in bed ... Athena comes to him and asks why he is being wakeful. Odysseus tells her that he worries because he is only one man. She tells him that with her by his side he could beat fifty bands of men. Penelope does not sleep much and prays to Artemis that she be killed rather than marry one of the suitors. During her prayer she sees a vision of Odysseus and cries out. The cry wakes Odysseus and he prays to Zeus asking for a sign. Zeus hears him and he releases a peal of thunder. A woman working hears this and prays that this be the last day of serving the suitors. Odysseus hears this and feels better. Telemachus awakens and goes to Eurykleia asking how the guest was taken care of. He accuses his mother of being unfair because the beggar slept on the floor. Eurykleia explains that the beggar wouldn't take a bed and Telemachus demands that the maids clean the house before all the suitors return. The swineherd returns and asks Odysseus if the suitors were respectful of him and Odysseus replies with a request that Zeus repay their deeds. Melanthios returns and taunts Odysseus again. Odysseus remains silent but gets more angry. The cattle foreman, Philoitios, arrives and asks who the beggar is. He welcomes him as a friend and wishes him luck because he reminds him that Odysseus may be in rags in some foreign land. He tells him that the life of a cattle herder is hard, especially with the suitors whom he would like to attack and Odysseus reassures him:

"Herdsman, I make you out to be no coward
and no fool: I can see that for myself.
So let me tell you this. I swear by Zeus
all highest, by the table set for friends,
and by your king's hearthstone to which I've come,
Odysseus will return. You'll be on hand
to see, if you care to see it,
how those who lord it here will be cut down."
Book 20, lines 250-7

Eumaius and Philoitios echo his pledge as the suitors come together and speak about a plot against Telemachus. Amphinomos speaks against them and says that they should just all go and feast. The table is set and Telemachus has Odysseus sit on a stool next to him. He tells him he will guard him from any suitors. Antinous tells him that they should pay no heed to Telemachus. In the meantime cows are being sacrificed in Ithaca and Athena desires Odysseus to be offended more. She inspires one of the suitors, Ktesippos, to throw a cow hoof at Odysseus' head, It misses him and Telemachus tells him that he is lucky that he missed. Another suitor, Agelaus says that no one should touch the beggar but tells Telemachus that it is obvious that his father will never return and that his mother should be married. Telemachus replies that he is not impeding his mother's marriage but he will not force her. Athena makes the suitors laugh uncontrollably. Theoklymenos warns them that he has foreseen them dripping with blood. Eurymachus says that the guest is wrong and he should be shoved outside. Theoklymenos warns them that he sees damnation for all of them and he leaves. The suitors try to provoke Telemachus but he ignores them. Penelope watches it all in silence.

Topic Tracking: Disguise and Deceit 12

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