An essay on The Odyssey from my summer Classical Lit course.
July 16, 2007
Classical Mythology and Literature Second Response Paper
I believe that Book 24 is a fitting ending of The Odyssey. Odysseus is returned to his throne, Penelope is rewarded for her faithfulness, Laertes is reunited with his son and also receives one last vestige of his days as king and order is restored to Ithaca. Victorian writers will use the last pages of their novels to provide a summary of everything that happens to their characters once the story has ended. Perhaps here is where they took it from. The dead suitors go to the house of death and are confronted by Agamemnon—the king who was murdered by his cheating wife. The scene does two things: the suitors are mocked by a man who suffered from a similar but more successful plan and it also gives Agamemnon the opportunity to celebrate their deaths as he would do to Aegisthus’.
Odysseus is then reunited with his father after first testing him with a fictional story of Odysseus’ travels. This is consistent with Odysseus’ behavior throughout his odyssey, where Odysseus tests his kin’s loyalties to himself and to test the trustworthiness of strangers. This type of consistency cements the character of Odysseus in the reader’s minds. It also cements the patriarchal nature of ancient Greek society because Odysseus’ mother is dead and at the reunion scene are three generations of men. In fact in the Book 24 all characters except for Athena are men and even she is disguised as a man, not even Goddesses are fit to stand with men. Penelope, the queen that Odysseus longed to get home to, is locked up in her room and commanded by Odysseus to not speak to anyone.
Even though revenge is a birthright in ancient Greece the peace engineered by Athena prevents the hero, and even her own hero, from suffering from further bloodshed. And it allows Homer to not have to write, or recite, another story or more books for this story. After such a long journey, Odysseus has earned peace and rest.