Melanthius: The Goatherd Who Was on the Wrong Side of the War

Melanthius and oddysey greek mythologyMelanthius is one of those characters in Greek mythology that found themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time. Melanthius was the goatherd of Odysseus’ household. His fate was dire and in the end, he himself became food for the dogs. Read ahead about the trials and tribulations of Melanthius and how Odysseus ordered the killing of his servant.

Melanthius in the Odyssey

If you’re wondering “what does Melanthius do to Odysseus” the way to begin is to know that Melanthius was a servant in the household of Odysseus. He was responsible for catching and grazing goats and sheep for feasts at the house. He was a loyal servant and did whatever he could for the household. Not much is known about his own family and origin.

In Greek mythology, Homer, Hesiod, and Virgil have contributed some of the best works. Among them, the Odyssey by Homer has mentioned Melanthius and his story. The Odyssey, among many other things, explains the story of Melanthius with respect to Odysseus and Penelope. So to better understand the tale of Melanthius we must first learn who Odysseus and Penelope were.

Odysseus

Odysseus was the king of Ithaca in Greek mythology. He was also the hero of Homer’s poem, the Odyssey. Homer mentions Odysseus in his other poem of the Epic Cycle, the Illiad. He was the son of Laertes and Anticlea, the King and the Queen of Ithaca. He was married to Penelope, the daughter of Spartan king Icarius, with whom he had two children,  Telemachus and Acusilaus.

Odysseus was most widely known for his intelligence. He was a brilliant king and an exceptional fighter. The Odyssey describes the homecoming of Odysseus from the Trojan war. In the Trojan war, Odysseus played a very important role as a fighter, an advisor, and also as a strategist. He gave the idea of the hollow trojan horse which was sent inside the city of Troy.

The Odyssey describes the journey of Odysseus from the Trojan war back to his home in Ithaca. This was a long journey of around 10 years and it brought so many hardships to him and his family back home. In the end, Odysseus did make it to Ithaca. Meanwhile, Melanthius was helping Penelope and the kids.

Penelope

Penelope was the wife of Odysseus. She was very beautiful and probably the most faithful to Odysseus. She was the daughter of the King of Sparta, Icarus, and the nymph Periboea. She was also the queen of Ithaca and the mother of Telemachus and Acusilaus. Odysseus left Penelope and their two sons back in Ithaca when he went to fight for the Greeks in the Trojan war.

Odysseus was gone for around 20 long years. During this time, Penelope received and rejected around 108 marriage proposals. Their sons had grown up and helped their mother keep hold of Ithaca. Penelope waited for Odysseus very patiently and Melanthius had helped her in running the household for a long time but just before Odysseus’ return, he has a change of heart.

Melanthius and Odysseus

Penelope was always very repulsed by the thought of marrying again after Odysseus. The kingdom had also been without a king for almost 20 years. Melanthius was a goatherd along with cowherd Philoetius and swineherd Eumaeus. Some suitors had come to Ithaca for seeking the hand of Penelope in marriage.

Return of Odysseus

Melanthius had gone out to get goats for the feast, and Odysseus had returned from his journey and was disguised as a beggar just to see the real condition of his kingdom. He went up to Melanthius, asking for some alms, however, Melanthius behaved badly with him, by throwing Odysseus away and going on about his work.

Odysseus was very heartbroken by how Melanthius had treated him. Back at the house, the feast was about to start and the suitors had arrived. The suitors were being very nice to Melanthius and even asked him to sit and eat with him and so he did. He had a change of heart and wanted Penelope to marry one of the suitors, thinking she doesn’t deserve Odysseus.

Around this time, Odysseus entered the castle looking like a beggar. When the suitors and Melanthius saw him, they rushed to kill him along with Melanthius but were defeated by Odysseus’ men in the war.

Odysseus saw Melanthius on their side and asked Philoetius and Eumaeus, the cowherd and the swineherd, to capture Melanthius and throw him in the dungeons and so they did. Melanthius quickly realized what a mess he had created for himself and just because of some moments of respect from the suitors, he gave away his life’s hard work and honesty.

The Death of Melanthius

Melanthius was taken to the dungeons on the order of Odysseus by Philoetius and Eumaeus. They both tortured and beat Melanthius for going against their king Odysseus. They also charged him for stealing weapons and armors from the storage for the suitors. There was no way out for Melanthius and he begged for death. But Philoetius and Eumaeus had other plans for him.

They tortured him brutally before killing him. They cut off his hands, feet, nose, and genitals. They threw his parts in the fire and threw the rest of him to the dogs. In the end, he became the very thing he used to bring to the household, food and that too for dogs.

Conclusion

Melanthius was a goatherd in the household of Odysseus in Ithaca. He has been mentioned quite a few times in the Odyssey by Homer. He had an unfortunate event with Odysseus after remaining a faithful servant all his life. Here are a few points to sum up the article:

  • Melanthius and oddyseyThe Odyssey describes the homecoming of Odysseus from the Trojan war. In the Trojan war, Odysseus gave the idea of the hollow trojan horse which was sent inside the city of Troy.
  • Melanthius was a goatherd along with cowherd Philoetius and swineherd Eumaeus. He also helped Penelope run the household smoothly.
  • Odysseus saw Melanthius on the side of the suitors that had come to Ithaca to ask for Penelope’s hand in marriage. So he asked Philoetius and Eumaeus, the cowherd and the swineherd, to capture Melanthius and throw him in the dungeons and so they did.
  • Melanthius was brutally tortured by Philoetius and Eumaeus before he was cut into pieces. Some of his pieces were burned and some were thrown to the dogs. Melanthius’s death was a tragic one.

Here we come to the end of the article about Melanthius. We hope you found everything you were looking for.

Image
Ancient Literature (June 8, 2024) Melanthius: The Goatherd Who Was on the Wrong Side of the War. Retrieved from https://ancient-literature.com/melanthius/.
"Melanthius: The Goatherd Who Was on the Wrong Side of the War." Ancient Literature - June 8, 2024, https://ancient-literature.com/melanthius/
Ancient Literature July 14, 2022 Melanthius: The Goatherd Who Was on the Wrong Side of the War., viewed June 8, 2024,<https://ancient-literature.com/melanthius/>
Ancient Literature - Melanthius: The Goatherd Who Was on the Wrong Side of the War. [Internet]. [Accessed June 8, 2024]. Available from: https://ancient-literature.com/melanthius/
"Melanthius: The Goatherd Who Was on the Wrong Side of the War." Ancient Literature - Accessed June 8, 2024. https://ancient-literature.com/melanthius/
"Melanthius: The Goatherd Who Was on the Wrong Side of the War." Ancient Literature [Online]. Available: https://ancient-literature.com/melanthius/. [Accessed: June 8, 2024]

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *