What is the theme of Book 18 of "The Odyssey"?

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linda-allen | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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In Book 18, Odysseus has returned home and has disguised himself so that Penelope's suitors will not recognize him. You might say that the theme of this section is trickery and deception. Odysseus deceives the suitors with his disguise. Penelope has been deceiving them all along by pretending to work diligently to finish weaving her shroud.

When the book opens, Odysseus is approached by a beggar called Irus, who threatens Odysseus to leave. Because Odysseus is disguised as a beggar himself, the old man thinks Odysseus will cut into his profits. Odysseus tries to reason with the man, but they end up fighting; Odysseus knocks Irus out and drags him into the courtyard.

Penelope also practices deception in Book 18. She is angry when she hears about the fight and the way the strange newcomer has treated Irus. So she decides to chastise the suitors. Before she does so, the goddess Athena causes Penelope to fall asleep, and when she awakens she appears younger and more beautiful than before. All of the suitors are enthralled by her beauty, and Penelope sees the opportunity to get more out of them. She asks for more gifts, which they gladly give her.

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