Book 20 Summary and Analysis
Philoitius: a loyal oxherd
Agelaus: a chief suitor
Odysseus beds down on the floor but is soon bothered by the noise of the disloyal maidservants fleeing the palace to make love to the suitors. Odysseus feels the urge to destroy them on the instant but eventually gains control of himself and lets them go for the moment. He then suffers a night of anxiety and restlessness. He fears that he will be unable to defeat the suitors due to their overwhelming numbers. Athene descends from Olympus, however, and reassures him that with her aid, he is able to accomplish virtually anything. She then drifts him off into a peaceful sleep. Just as Odysseus falls asleep, Penelope awakes torn by doubt concerning her decision to marry one of the suitors. She wishes the gods would carry her off in a stormwind and deposit her in the land of the dead, where she might be reunited with Odysseus at last. Just so, she recalls, did the gods destroy the unmarried daughters of Pandareus.
Dawn arrives, and Odysseus begs Zeus for signs of success. The storm god replies with a peal of thunder in a cloudless sky. Odysseus also overhears a young maid wishing the thunder is a sign that this will be the last feast celebrated by the suitors. Odysseus gladly welcomes these favorable portents.
Meanwhile, Eurycleia commands the many household servants to ready for the day’s feasting, which will begin early because the day is a public festival. Eumaeus arrives and greets Odysseus warmly, but Melanthius arrives and verbally abuses the disguised stranger once more. Philoitius the cowherd also arrives, having ferried over the livestock he tends for Odysseus on the isle of Cephallenia. Philoitius treats Odysseus kindly and expresses his loyalty for the master whom he hopes will one day return to Ithaca.
The suitors arrive and begin their feasting, waited upon by the herdsmen, Eumaeus, Philoitius, and...
(The entire section is 811 words.)