The Odyssey Ending: How Odysseus Rose to Power Again

The odyssey ending odysseu killing suitors oil on canvasThe Odyssey ending the way it is is still heavily debated in the literary world, with various scholars discussing it. Still, to fully grasp the scholars’ heavy debate, we must go over the play’s events.

What Is The Odyssey?

The Odyssey starts after the Trojan War. Odysseus and his men are to head back to Ithaca after the war that had taken them from their homes. He gathers his men onto ships and sets sail into the seas. They encounter numerous islands that hold various danger levels, delaying their journey for years and killing the men one by one.

In anger, Zeus sends a thunderbolt to Odysseus’ ship amid a storm, drowning all men, leaving Odysseus as the sole survivor. The final death was on the island of Helios, where Odysseus’ remaining men slaughtered the golden cattle and offered the healthiest one up to the gods.

Odysseus washes ashore the island of Ogygia, where the Nymph Calypso resides. He is imprisoned on her island for seven years before Athena argues over his release. Once released, he sets sail towards Ithaca only to be derailed by a storm sent by Poseidon. He washes ashore in Scheria, where the Phaeacians resided. The sea-faring people of Scheria are ruled by their king, Alcinous, the grandson of the Greek god Poseidon.

Odysseus charms the Phaeacians as he recounts the tale of his adventures, portraying himself as the hero and sole survivor of his incredibly tumultuous journey to his hometown. The king, Alcinous, completely intrigued by his story, offered to send him home with a handful of men and a ship.

The Phaeacians are sea-faring individuals who excel in navigation, sailing, and anything related to the body of water. This confidence is because Poseidon, their patron, is Alcinous’ godfather and incurred the protection of the Greek god. Odysseus is sent home in one piece and disguises himself as a beggar to avoid any assassination attempts by his wife’s suitors. He heads in the direction of his old friend, Eumaeus, where he is offered shelter, food, and a warm bed for the night.

In Ithaca

Meanwhile, Odysseus’ wife, Penelope, and son, Telemachus, face a battle of their own; hundreds of suitors vying for Penelope’s hand. The mother-son duo holds on to the hope that Odysseus’ return would only be a few nights away but slowly loses hope with each passing moment. Because the throne of Ithaca has been left empty for quite a while, Penelope’s father wants her to marry a man of his choosing. Instead of following her father’s command, Penelope chooses to stay in Ithaca and entertain the suitors, procrastinating her choice of man until the very end.

Due to the Greek custom of Xenia, the suitors eat their food and drink their wine, as per Greek traditions. Still, instead of reciprocating the generous hospitality of Telemachus and his mother, the suitors are disrespectful and brush off Telemachus’ authority, going as far as to plot his downfall.

Telemachus’ Journey

The odyssey ending odysseu killing suitors woodprintTo save the young Ithacan prince from the nefarious plans of the suitors, Athena, disguised as Mentor, urges him to a journey of self-discovery under the guise of finding his father’s whereabouts. On the first visit to Nestor, the king of Pylos, Telemachus learns to be an ardent speaker and sow trust and loyalty as a king. They then visit Menelaus, king of Sparta, where Telemachus’ belief in his father is reaffirmed. His confidence shines as he finally gets the affirmation he needed to hear – his father was alive and well.

Athena urges Telemachus to return to Ithaca to visit Eumaeus immediately that shows loyalty as one of the motifs in the Odyssey. He arrives in Eumaeus’ cottage and is welcomed with open arms; he enters and sees a beggar dressed in drags sitting by the pit. There, it is revealed to be his father, Odysseus. After their pleasantries, they hatch a plan to massacre all the suitors vying for Penelope’s hand in marriage.

Still disguised as a beggar, he visits the palace and meets Penelope. The Ithacan king tickles the Queen’s curiosity as she announces the competition for her hand in marriage. The winner will automatically marry the Queen. Odysseus, still dressed as a beggar, wins the contest and points his bow towards the suitors. Odysseus and Telemachus then fight their way through the suitors and disguise the massacre as a wedding.

The suitors’ families eventually find out about their loved ones’ deaths and attempt to take revenge. Eueithes, Antinous’ father, leads the charge just as his son leads the suitors. He convinces the families’ to exact revenge on Odysseus by barging into his father’s home, demanding justice for their slain sons. The battle between the families and the men of the house of Odysseus comes to an end as Athena comes down and gives Laertes, Odysseus’ father, the strength and mobility to kill Euiethes. Once the leader was slain, the war had ended, and peace came to the land as Odysseus rose to the throne.

The Deaths of the Suitors and Revenge

The suitors’ death as just punishment for their hubris and disrespect is in line with the story’s attempts to shed light on the importance of following Greek customs. Xenia as one of the themes in the Odyssey was molded from deep respect and reciprocity that none of the suitors abided by. Instead, they chose to abuse the kindness of the house of Odysseus and even have the audacity to attempt the assassination of one of their hosts. This twist immediately allows our hero to be shown positively after his mistakes in his journey.

Revenge also plays a vital role in the ending of The Odyssey. Revenge was first portrayed by the god of the sea, Poseidon, who went out of his way to exact revenge on Odysseus for blinding his son. This act derailed Odysseus’ journey for several years and placed his life in danger numerous times along the way. The next we see of this trait is in the massacre of the suitors; Odysseus had massacred each and every one of Penelope’s suitors as revenge for the attempts on Telemachus’ life.

How Does The Odyssey End?

After defeating the suitors, Odysseus reveals his identity to his wife, Penelope, and immediately travels to where Odysseus’ father and Telemachus’ grandfather reside. Altogether, the three generations of men fight the families of the suitors. Laertes kills their leader as Athena intervenes to proclaim peace. The story ends as Odysseus ascends the throne, but various scholars believe otherwise. In general, the end of The Odyssey is portrayed as Odysseus reclaims his throne after a 20-year voyage.

The entirety of the latter portion of the second half of The Odyssey is focused on the revelation of Odysseus’ identity. The final revelations are to our Greek hero’s wife and father and are the most important revelation of all. One of the first things we learn about Odysseus in this story is his deep love for Penelope. Because of this fact, some scholars argue that the playwright had initially ended The Odyssey with Odysseus’ and Penelope’s reunion and that everything that came after would be some side story to the poem. And as such, the happy reunion between the two, at the climax of the epic, seems to reiterate this fact.

In contrast to this, several people have pointed out that the latter part of the last book is the true Odyssey’s end, for it had tied the loose ends of the epic, concluding the story wholly and satisfyingly. The hero’s status is then questioned as he is entirely driven by the desire for revenge that inevitably incurs the wrath of the people. He continues through this path, inflicting suffering and inducing bloodshed until the Greek goddess Athena helps him out by proclaiming peace, allowing him to rise to the throne. This is how the conclusion of The Odyssey occurs.

Conclusion

Now that we’ve talked about the plot of The Odyssey and how it came to be, let us go over the key characteristics of this article:

  • The odyssey ending odysseu killing suitors vaseThe Odyssey starts after the Trojan War – Odysseus and his men are to head back to Ithaca after the war that had taken them from their homes.
  • As Odysseus arrives back home in Ithaca, he dresses himself up as a beggar and quietly heads up to his old friend Eumaeus’ cottage, seeking shelter, food, and refuge.
  • Telemachus shows up at Eumaeus’ door and is welcomed with open arms
  • Odysseus reveals his identity to both men, and they plot to kill the suitors that had dared vouch for his wife’s hand in marriage
  • Odysseus wins the competition for his wife’s hand and immediately points the bow to the suitors, revealing his identity in the process
  • Together with his son and his friend, they massacre Penelope’s suitors and run off to Laertes to face the consequences of their actions
  • The families of the suitors’ rebel but is squashed as Laertes defeats the leader with the help of Athena
  • Odysseus rises to his throne, and peace is bestowed unto Ithaca.

In conclusion, although heavily debated, the end to The Odyssey still gives us a lesson we could all learn: that the belief in one’s family is incomparable to that of anything else in the world. And there you have it, The Odyssey, how it ended and the significance of its end.

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