The Ancient World (HUM 124 - UNC Asheville)/Texts/Odyssey/Book 22
Summary - Bloodshed[edit | edit source]
Odysseus rips off his rags and aims an arrow at Antinous and it goes through his throat; the suitors rise in uproar, looking to arm themselves, but found nothing. Believing Odysseus to be a stranger the suitors declare him dead for "the vultures." The suitors first tried to convince themselves that he has shot Antinous by accident. Odysseus reveals his identity to the suitors and a "pale fear seized all of them." Eurymachus tries to err on Odysseus' side stating "the Greeks have done outrageous things to your estate and home," and blame it on the now dead Antinous. Eurymachus then offers wealth from him and the other suitors, to make up for Antinous' wrong doing. Odysseus does not accept Eurymachus' offer, and yells "Fight of run away." Eruymachus tells the other suitors to gather arms and right as he tries to strike at Odysseus, Odysseus shot Eurymachus with an arrow, felling him. Amphinomus then "attacked Odysseus" but Telemachus quickly fell him. Telemachus then goes to gather more arms, while Odysseus shoots his arrows until he has none left.
As the slaughter continues, one suitor, Agelaus, tries to suggest they escape through a hatch, stating "one of us should slip out through that gate and quickly tell the people, raise alarms. That soon would put a stop to this man's shooting." Another suitor, Melanthius, tells him that this would not be possible. He explains that "one man, if he was brave, could keep it guarded against us all," and their only option is to fight. Melanthius assumes that Odysseus has hidden the weapons and shields in the storeroom and retrieves them before Telemachus realizes he has left the storeroom door open. Telemachus commands Eumaeus to go close the door to keep the suitors from arming themselves any further. Eumaeus spots Melanthius returning to the storeroom and asks Odysseus whether he should kill him, or bring him back to Odysseus for him to do it himself. Odysseus tells him to hoist Melanthius up to the rafters and let him hang there, effectively "tortur[ing] him with hours of agony before he dies."
Athena, whose "voice and looks resemble those of Mentor" appears before Odysseus, so he asks for her aid in battle. Agelaus calls out to her and claims that if she helps Odysseus then they will "strip [her] life." She refrains from interfering at this point, choosing instead to test Odysseus's strength by asking "Where is your courage now?" She flies to watch the battle. The suitors, believing that the Mentor is just a mortal man, rally again and aim their spears at Odysseus. However, once the suitors begin to close in on Odysseus and his men, Athena interferes, keeping the suitors strikes from hitting. This gives Odysseus and his men the chance to land their hits on the suitors as they continue to miss their own. Athena, making her stance "deadly," scares the rest of the suitors. They try to flee, but "the victims have no help and no way out, as their attackers slaughter them." Leodes begs Odysseus to spare his life, saying he is just a priest. He says he tried to restrain the suitors and that his hands are clean. Odysseus, still enraged, ignores his pleas and kills him. Both Phemius, the poet, and Medon, the house boy, are spared due to their unwilling participation.
Odysseus rids his house of evil through the process of killing those who did evil against him. After the slaughter Odysseus tells Telemachus to fetch Eurycleia. Eurycleia "began to crow" in delight. Odysseus tells her that they met the end that they deserved, and asks her to round up any of the women who betrayed and brought shame to the house. He tells her to have the women assist with the clean up, and then to take them outside to be executed. To cleanse the evil that still resides and by using fire and sulfur to cleanse the house. They then bring out Melanthius, torturing and killing him by "cut[ting] off his noes and ears and ripp[ing] aways his genitals to feed raw to the dogs." Odysseus then requests fire and sulfer of Eurycleia to cleanse the house. The rest of the women come out and "kissed his face and took him by the hands in welcome. He was seized by sweet desire to weep, and in his heart he knew them all."
Characters[edit | edit source]
Phemius - The poet who can sing songs for men and gods, who resides in Odysseus' house. Phemius was spared by Odysseus after the slaughter of the suitors.
Medon - A slave boy in Ithaca. He was spared by Odysseus after the slaughter of the suitors.
Telemachus - Odysseus' only son. He goes to look for his father in the beginning of the novel, and assists his father during the slaughter of the suitors.
Eurymachus - One of Penelope's suitors, killed by Odysseus during the slaughter of the suitors.
Antinous - A cruel leading suitor, who treated Odysseus poorly when he was in disguise as a beggar. He was the first to be killed by Odysseus during the slaughter of the suitors.
Amphinoumus - Treats the disguised Odysseus well, but he is killed by Telemachus after attacking Odysseus during the slaughter of the suitors.
Melanthius - Killed and tortured by Odysseus' men after trying to gather arms against Odysseus. His sister is one of the slave girls who were hung at the end of the slaughter of the suitors.
Eumaeus - Watches over Odysseus' pigs, but he assists in the slaughter of the suitors.
Mentor - A figure that Odysseus looks up to, his "identity is assumed by Athena" during the slaughter of the suitors.
Athena - "The goddess associated with technical and strategic skill", she appears in the form of Mentor in order to assist Odysseus.
Demoptelumus - One of Penelope's suitors, and was killed by Odysseus during the slaughter of the suitors.
Agelaus - One of Penelope's suitors, and was killed by Odysseus during the slaughter of the suitors.
Eurynomus - One of Penelope's suitors, and is killed by Odysseus during the slaughter of the suitors.
Pisander - killed by Odysseus
Amphimedon - killed by Telemachus
Polybus - killed by the swineherd
Ctesippus - killed by the cow-herd
Eurydamas - killed by the city-slacker
Leodes - states "I tried to stope the suitors, tries to urge them to keep their hands clean, but they would not listen." pg. 486-487, killed by Odysseus
Eurycleia - nanny of the house, oversees all the other women in the house - slave girls included
Slave girls -
Ancient World View[edit | edit source]
Deified Violence[edit | edit source]
In Book 22: Bloodshed, there are many accounts of violence and the appeasement of gods through violence. In the beginning of the Book 22 Odysseus states "playtime is over. I will shoot again, towards another mark no man has hit. Apollo, may I manage it!" This is right when Odysseus fires his arrow at Antinous. Here he asks for Apollos help in making sure that his arrow hits his mark. This direct connection to Apollo, the god of archery, ties Odysseus to the realm of the Gods. This connection is strengthened again when Athena appears later in Book 22. "The child of Zeus, Athena, came to meet them; ...He guessed it was Athena, who rouses armies." This quote defines Athena's role in the story. She acts as a protector of Odysseus and his men and reinforce the idea that they are the ones in the right. Athena, also, riles Odysseus up by calling him a coward, which relates directly to the idea that Athena is the one "who rouses armies." Odysseus' role is again exemplified by his title as "the lord of suffering" connecting him to an elevated status as well as the idea of violence as suffering.
Murder as Revenge[edit | edit source]
Book 22 is based around the massacre of Penelope’s suitors. Throughout the book, the reader can collect that using murder as a form of revenge was evidently less taboo in the ancient times in which the story is based. It is significant that not only does Odysseus see the slaughter of the suitors as appropriate revenge, but multiple other people, such as his son, are on board with it as well and willing to participate in it. Although the suitors were in the wrong in multiple ways, it did not seem necessary to kill them. Regardless, the other characters seem to recognize the murder of the suitors as an acceptable form of revenge. By the end of the chapter, Odysseus and his accomplices have massacred all of the suitors, but do not face serious repercussions for having done so. There is a concern afterwards that the families of the suitors would be angered, but no legal consequences are even mentioned.
Misogynistic Gender Roles[edit | edit source]
Like many other parts of the Odyssey, book 22 exemplifies the gender roles of the time period. The way gender is portrayed in this book is very stereotyped and misogynistic. The men spend most of the time fighting and killing each other as well as trying to prove their strength and dominance. On the other hand, the women are completely separated from the violence and later assigned to do the housework of cleaning up after the slaughter. Not only is this misogynistic because the women are assigned to the cleaning and have no part of the action, but also because the mess the women are cleaning up is the result of the reckless behavior of the men. The women, who were not even around when the slaughter occurred, are expected and told to take care of the mess of it. This is a clear example of the men seeing themselves as above the women and treating them poorly because of it.
References[edit | edit source]
Homer, The Odyssey, translated by Emily Wilson (New York: W. W. Norton, 2018), p.476-493.
- Homer, The Odyssey, translated by Emily Wilson (New York: W. W. Norton, 2018), p. 477.
- Homer, The Odyssey, translated by Emily Wilson (New York: W. W. Norton, 2018), p. 478.
- Homer, The Odyssey, translated by Emily Wilson (New York: W. W. Norton, 2018), p. 479.
- Homer, The Odyssey, translated by Emily Wilson (New York: W. W. Norton, 2018), p. 480.
- Homer, The Odyssey, translated by Emily Wilson (New York: W. W. Norton, 2018), p. 482.
- Homer, The Odyssey, translated by Emily Wilson (New York: W. W. Norton, 2018), p. 483.
- Homer, The Odyssey, translated by Emily Wilson (New York: W. W. Norton, 2018), p. 486.
- Homer, The Odyssey, translated by Emily Wilson (New York: W. W. Norton, 2018), p. 490.
- Homer, The Odyssey, translated by Emily Wilson (New York: W. W. Norton, 2018), p. 492.
- Homer, The Odyssey, translated by Emily Wilson (New York: W. W. Norton, 2018), p.493.
- Homer, The Odyssey, translated by Emily Wilson (New York: W. W. Norton, 2018), p. 567.
- Homer, The Odyssey, translated by Emily Wilson (New York: W. W. Norton, 2018), p. 558.