The Odyssey – Complete Summary

The Odyssey – Complete Summary

After the destruction of Troy ten years ago, the Greek hero Odysseus has not yet returned to his kingdom in Ithaca. This has been a source of great concern for the people of Ithaca. Penelope, the wife of Odysseus, is still the object of attention from a huge and boisterous group of suitors who have taken control of Odysseus’ palace and pillaged his country. She has not strayed from her husband Odysseus in any way. Prince Telemachus, Odyseus’s son, has a strong desire to drive them out of the city, but he lacks the self-assurance and combat expertise necessary to accomplish it. Antinous, one of the suitors, has devised a plot to murder the young prince in order to remove the sole challenger to their control of the palace.

Odysseus is still alive, but his suitors are unaware of this fact. Calypso, a lovely nymph, has taken him to her island, Ogygia, and locked him up there since she is so in love with him. He is desperate to get back to his wife and son, but he does not have a ship or any other personnel to assist him in his escape. Athena, Odysseus’s most ardent advocate among the gods, comes to the conclusion that she will assist Telemachus while the other gods and goddesses of Mount Olympus discuss the future of Odysseus. She encourages the prince to organise a meeting of the assembly, during which he rebukes the suitors while disguised as a friend of the prince’s grandpa, Laertes. Laertes is the prince’s grandfather. Athena also gets him ready for a long journey to Pylos and Sparta, where the monarchs Nestor and Menelaus, who were Odysseus’ allies during the war, tell him that Odysseus is still alive but is imprisoned on Calypso’s island. While Telemachus makes preparations to sail back to Ithaca, Antinous and the other suitors are busy setting up an ambush in which they want to kill him as soon as he arrives at the port.

Hermes is the one who is dispatched from Mount Olympus by Zeus to save Odysseus from Calypso. Hermes is successful in convincing Calypso to grant Odysseus permission to construct a ship and go. Odysseus, who missed his home and family, decides to sail back to Ithaca, but the god of the sea, Poseidon, discovers his plan and causes a storm that sinks his ship. Poseidon has held a deep-seated animosity towards Odysseus since since the hero caused the blinding of Polyphemus, one of Poseidon’s sons who was a cyclops earlier in his adventures. Odysseus is spared from the wrath of Poseidon thanks to Athena’s intervention, and he is able to make it to Scheria, the land of the Phaeacians, unscathed. Princess Nausicaa of Phaeacia leads Odysseus to the royal palace, where the Phaeacian king and queen extend a kind greeting to the returning hero. His hosts, who are familiar with his exploits at Troy, are taken aback when he reveals to them that he is in fact Odysseus. They assure him that they will ensure his arrival in Ithaca safely, but before they do so, they need to know the details of his travels.

Odysseus stays up all night recounting the incredible series of occurrences that led up to his arrival on Calypso’s island in order to pass the time. He describes his travel to the Land of the Lotus Eaters, his conflict with the cyclops Polyphemus, his love affair with the witch-goddess Circe, his struggle against the sea monster Scylla, his visit into Hades to consult the prophet Tiresias, and his struggle against the sirens. Odysseus is taken back to Ithaca by the Phaeacians after he has finished telling his tale. Once there, he searches for the dwelling of Eumaeus, his devoted swineherd. Even though Athena has disguised Odysseus as a beggar, Eumaeus graciously welcomes him into the hut and feeds him despite this fact. Soon after, he runs across Telemachus, who has survived the ambush set by the suitors and has returned from Pylos and Sparta, and he confesses to Telemachus his true identity. In order to retake control of Ithaca, Odysseus and Telemachus concoct a strategy that will involve the mass execution of the suitors.

Odysseus is subjected to verbal abuse and insults from the suitors the following day, when he arrives at the palace while still dressed in the disguise of a beggar. Eurycleia, his former nurse, is the only person who is able to recognise him, but she has made a solemn promise not to reveal his identity. Penelope begins to wonder whether or if the unusual beggar is indeed her long-lost spouse, so she develops an interest in him. Penelope, who is quite cunning herself, plans an archery competition for the following day and makes a marriage proposal to any suitor who is successful in stringing Odysseus’s great bow and shooting an arrow through a row of twelve axes, a challenge that no one other than Odysseus has ever been able to overcome. During the competition, each potential suitor tries to string the bow but is unsuccessful. Odysseus raises the bow to his shoulder and effortlessly shoots an arrow that passes through all twelve axes in the wall. After that, he reveals his true intentions to the suitors. Together with Telemachus, and with the help of a few loyal servants, they put an end to all of the suitors.

Odysseus reveals himself to the entire palace, and he is able to get back together with Penelope, the woman he loves. He makes the journey to see his old father, Laertes, who lives on the outskirts of Ithaca. They come under attack from the vengeful family members of the deceased suitors, but Laertes, who has been given a new lease on life by the return of his son, is able to effectively kill Antinous’s father and put an end to the attack. Athena is sent on a mission by Zeus to restore peace. Odysseus’s long journey finally comes to a conclusion when he is reunited with his family and his power is restored.

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