Book 17 Summary and Analysis
Melanthius: a scornful goatherd
Argos: Odysseus’ faithful old dog
Eurynome: Penelope’s maidservant
In the morning, Telemachus leaves Eumaeus’ dwelling and returns to the palace, where he is greeted warmly by his mother and the many servants who feared for his life. Telemachus commands his mother to vow sacrifices to the gods should their hardships be avenged. Penelope obeys, while Telemachus himself goes to the place of assembly. There Telemachus meets Peraeus with Theoclymenus the prophet. Telemachus tells Peraeus to hold onto his Spartan treasures until the conflict with the suitors is resolved. Telemachus then returns to his palace with Theoclymenus. Telemachus, Theoclymenus, and Penelope share a meal together, during which Theoclymenus reveals to Penelope the portent he had read to Telemachus the day before.
Meanwhile Odysseus and Eumaeus have headed towards the city at Telemachus’ command. On their way there, they meet the scurrilous Melanthius the goatherd, who both verbally and physically abuses Odysseus. Odysseus holds his peace, struggling to control himself from slaying the goatherd. Unshaken by Eumaeus’ curses, Melanthius leaves the two behind and enters the palace.
When Odysseus and Eumaeus arrive at the palace, where the disguised beggar is supposed to beg his supper, they see the old dog, Argos, lying atop a heap of dung. This dog, which Odysseus left behind in its prime, is now a most pitiful creature, covered with ticks and barely able to move. Yet, recognizing Odysseus, the dog wags its tail and lays back its ears in a show of its loyalty. The wretched dog soon dies, having met its master again after twenty years of separation.
Eumaeus enters the palace, shortly followed by Odysseus. Telemachus gives his disguised father a meal and commands him to beg from among the suitors. All the suitors pity him but Antinoös who, gently provoked by the disguised beggar, throws a footstool at Odysseus, who walks away in silent...
(The entire section is 850 words.)