The Odyssey by Homer

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In book 22 of the Odyssey, who is saved from death and why?

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Lane Flatley eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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At the conclusion of book 21 of the Odyssey, after revealing his identity to his loyal servants and ordering them to close the doors of the house, Odysseus has strung his long-dormant bow and shot an arrow through the handle-holes of twelve axes, passing the test that Penelope had set to replace Odysseus as her husband.

As book 22 opens, Odysseus flings off his rags to announce his return and, with the help of Telemachus, begins the ritual killing of the assembled suitors. But at the request of his son, he decides to spare two of those present who are begging for their lives; one is the minstrel Phemius, who was not there of his own choosing, but was forced by the suitors to sing for their entertainment; the other is Medon, who had been kind to Telemachus when he was a child.

After sparing the life of the apologetic Medon, Odysseus smiles, saying, "Fear not; Telemachus has saved your life, that you may know in future, and tell other people, how greatly better good deeds prosper than evil ones."

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In the twenty-second book of Homer's Odyssey, Odysseus begins his battle with the suitors. Aided by his son Telemachus and a few trusty servants, Odysseus slaughters the suitors.

At Odyssey 22.310-377, however, some of the combatants begin to beg Odysseus to spare their lives. The first is Leodes, who claims that he served as the priest among the suitors. Because he was their priest, Odysseus concludes that he must have prayed for Odysseus' death. Therefore, Odysseus kills Leodes.

The next person to supplicate Odysseus is the singer Phemius, who claims that he is a "minstrel who sings for gods and men" and that the "the Suitors dragged me here by force" (A.S. Kline translation). In this case, it is not clear whether Odysseus was moved by Phemius' petition, but, before Odysseus can react, Telemachus intervenes and persuades his father to spare Phemius' life.

Telemachus also convinces Odysseus to spare the life of the herald Medon, "who used to care for me as a child in this house."

Thus, in Odyssey 22, Odysseus spares Phemius and Medon due to the intervention of his son Telemachus.

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lilysun123 | Student

Phemius and Medon are saved from death.

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