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The Odyssey Book 24: Summary & Quotes

Instructor: Wendy A. Garland

Wendy has a Ph.D. in Adult Education and a Master's Degree in Business Management. She has 10 years experience working in higher education.

This lesson begins with a brief recap of Book 23 of ''The Odyssey.'' It will then go on with a summary of Book 24. Agamemnon and Achilles discuss the suitors' deaths in Hades, and Odysseus and Laertes face the suitors' parents.

Recap

In Book 23 of The Odyssey, Penelope still refused to believe Odysseus had really returned. But Odysseus made Penelope believe him by giving her secret details about their bed. Odysseus then told Penelope to lock herself in the upper chamber until he returns from seeing his father, Laertes.

To The Underworld

The scene changes dramatically as we begin Book 24 of The Odyssey. We see Hermes, the Greek messenger of the gods, gathering the spirits of the suitors who are moaning like bats. He takes them to the underworld, or the kingdom of the dead.

As they enter, they see the spirits of many Greek warriors, including Achilles and Agamemnon. All the warriors' spirits gather around Achilles, expecting a conversation, as Agamemnon comes over to him, all depressed.

Achilles tells Agamemnon that if he had died while fighting in Troy, he would have had a much more glorious death. ''Then would the whole Achaean host have made your grave, and for your son in after days a great name had been gained.'' But that was not the case.

Agamemnon then replies by describing Achilles' funeral in exact detail. They chat for a while, until Hermes shows up with the moaning spirits of the suitors. Agamemnon recognizes Amphimedon, whom he knew in life.

Agamemnon Wonders

Agamemnon questions Amphimedon. ''What has happened that you come to this dreary land, all of you chosen men and all alike in years?'' Amphimedon tells him a brief account of what went on in Ithaca with Penelope and Odysseus.

However, he blames Penelope for causing their deaths. Amphimedon says she agreed to choose one of the suitors to marry, but then made them wait with tricks and dishonesty. And then Odysseus came back home and killed them all.

But after hearing that story, Agamemnon praises Penelope for sticking with Odysseus. ''How upright was the heart of true Penelope, the daughter of Icarus! How faithful to Odysseus, the husband of her youth!''

Back To Earth

Meanwhile, back in Ithaca, Odysseus and his crew arrive at Laertes's plentiful and well-organized farm. Odysseus sends his servants into the house to prepare food, and goes to see his father, Laertes. He finds him in the vineyard, working alone.

Odysseus sees his father aged prematurely over grief for him, and it makes him cry. Odysseus once again decides to keep his identity to himself, this time to see if Laertes will recognize him. Laertes does not, and cries as he talks about his memories of his son Odysseus, and throws dirt on his head in grief.

Reunited At Last

Odysseus cannot stand it anymore. He hugs and kisses his father, and reveals his identity. ''Lo, father, I am he for whom you seek, now in the twentieth year come to my native land!'' He then tells Laertes that he has killed all the suitors in revenge, and their bodies lay in his palace.

Laertes asks for proof of his identity, and Odysseus shows him the scar on his foot. He then tells Laertes a story about how, as a child, he used to run around the vineyard with Laertes. Odysseus also tells Laertes about how he then gave him some of the trees to look after.

Laertes has heard enough proof, and hugs and kisses his son after so many years. However, he worries about being attacked. ''I have great fear at heart that all the men of Ithaca may soon attack us here'' in revenge for killing the suitors.

The People Gather

But Odysseus calms him down. ''Be of good courage! Let not these things vex your mind!'' They then go inside to have lunch, with Telemachus and others. Meanwhile, Rumor, the Greek goddess of rumors, also known as Pheme, flies all over the city and spreads the news of the slaughter of the suitors at the palace.

All the townspeople, extremely upset, go to Odysseus's palace and bring out the dead bodies. They bury the locals and send the others back to their town with fishermen. They then assemble in town, everyone sad and upset. Eupeithes, Antinous's father, speaks first.

He tells everyone to rally and quickly go and take revenge on Odysseus and others. ''But forth, ere they escape from us across the sea!'' But before the mob can set off, Medon, Odysseus's herald, or messenger, tries to stop them.

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