What final recognitions take place in Book XX of The Odyssey?

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mstultz72 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Book XX of The Odyssey sets the table for the revenge that begins in Book XXI.  All of the suitors are reintroduced to Odysseus, and many are cruel to him.  Book XX is the last chapter that Odysseus will spend in the disguise of the beggar.  But, all of Odysseus' allies recognize him as lord Odysseus except Penelope.

Book XX reveals two major recognitions:

1.  Athena wants Odysseus to recognize that his revenge against the suitors is sanctioned by the gods.  Odysseus has been doubting his ability to defeat so many of the suitors:

"all that you have said is true, but I am in some doubt as to how I shall be able to kill these wicked suitors single handed, seeing what a number of them there always are. And there is this further difficulty, which is still more considerable. Supposing that with Jove's and your assistance I succeed in killing them, I must ask you to consider where I am to escape to from their avengers when it is all over."

Athena responds:

"For shame," replied Athena, "why, any one else would trust a worse ally than myself, even though that ally were only a mortal and less wise than I am. Am I not a goddess, and have I not protected you throughout in all your troubles? I tell you plainly that even though there were fifty bands of men surrounding us and eager to kill us, you should take all their sheep and cattle, and drive them away with you. But go to sleep; it is a very bad thing to lie awake all night, and you shall be out of your troubles before long."

2.  The suitors and the readers recognize Telemachus coming into his manhood.  No longer is Telemachus weak or timid in the midst of the older, brazen suitors.  Telemachus insults them openly:

. . . This house does not belong to the people,
but it belongs to Odysseus; he acquired it; this makes it
mine, and so, you suitors, hold back your spirit for insults
and blows, or else there may be a quarrel and fight between us.

As such, the suitors take offense to his remonstrations--they “bit their lips in amazement / at Telemachos, and the daring way he had spoken to them.”