In Book 18 of Homer's Odyssey, what does the fight with Irus reveal about Odysseus?I believe the fight takes place on page 375-379. But I don't know what it reveals about Odysseus. Please help....

In Book 18 of Homer's Odyssey, what does the fight with Irus reveal about Odysseus?

I believe the fight takes place on page 375-379. But I don't know what it reveals about Odysseus. Please help. Thanks!

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noahvox2 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

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In Book 18 of Homer's Odyssey, the title character, disguised as a beggar, battles against another beggar whose name is Irus. The scene highlights once again the theme of xenia (guest-friendship) that runs throughout the Odyssey. Because Irus abuses the customs of hospitality by insulting Odysseus, ironically in his own home, Odysseus shows himself to be a defender of the rights and customs of hospitality by defeating Irus.

Odysseus' defeat of Irus also seems like a sort of stepping-stone to his defeat of the Suitors. Odysseus' defeat of Irus is one of his beginning steps to reasserting himself as the master of his house. 

The battle against Irus also reminds us of Odysseus' reverence for the gods. Thus, the hero warns Irus, 

You’ve no need to be jealous of what others get, since you’re a beggar like me. We must look to the gods for any riches we obtain. (A.S. Kline translation)

It is also ironic that one of the suitors, Amphinomus, offers a blessing upon Odysseus:

‘Health, old Stranger, and may good fortune be yours in future, despite your present sorrows’.


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