Book 22 Summary and Analysis
Amphimedon: a suitor who later describes his death to Agamemnon (in Book XXIV)
Odysseus bounds from his chair and scatters his arrows on the floor beneath himself. He then lets another arrow fly straight into the throat of Antinoös. The suitors, amazed, believe Odysseus shot the man by accident and threaten to kill him for his carelessness. It is at this moment that Odysseus reveals his identity to them at last, and the men are deeply afraid of his wrath. Eurymachus tells Odysseus that the men will make restitution for their evil deeds, but the vengeful man will not be satisfied. Eurymachus then tries to lead the men in a charge to break past Odysseus to the door behind him, but the archer cuts him down swiftly.
Amphinomus charges against Odysseus, attempting to overbear him, but Telemachus casts his spear at the man with deadly accuracy. Then, obtaining his father’s approval, Telemachus runs to the chamber containing the hidden weapons and draws out helmets, shields, and spears for his companions and himself. He quickly returns to Odysseus, and he and the two herdsmen quickly don the arms. Odysseus in the meantime propels his shafts with speed and vigor, killing a man with every arrow that leaves his bow. When he has no arrows remaining, he dons the equipment that Telemachus has retrieved for him.
The suitor Agelaus tries to muster the other suitors together. Melanthius the goatherd assists them by slipping away from the room through a vent in the wall; he finds the equipment hidden by Telemachus and brings back twelve sets of arms and armor. The suitors quickly don these, but Telemachus spots Melanthius leaving the room to find more equipment. Odysseus sends the two herdsmen out to intercept Melanthius and hold him captive.
Eumaeus and Philoitius obey their master; they ambush and subdue the goatherd on his way out of the weapons chamber. They tie his arms and legs behind him and hoist him up to the roof rafters for painful safekeeping. The herdsmen then rejoin Odysseus and Telemachus. Athene appears in the likeness of Mentor to stand on the side of Odysseus. Agelaus threatens to slay Mentor’s family if he does not abandon Odysseus to his fate. Athene then rebukes Odysseus for fearing to attack the armed suitors, despite their numbers, for he fought more vehemently on the plains of Troy than he does in his own home. She then changes her form to that of a swallow and flies up to the hall’s rafters, unnoticed by the suitors.
Agelaus and the five suitors most adept at fighting lead the suitors in a charge. Athene causes their thrown spears to fly wildly from their marks, but Odysseus and his companions hurl their spears with lethal consequences for the suitors. The frightened suitors back away from the dead men, and Odysseus’ party takes advantage of this to retrieve their spears from the fallen bodies. Six more spears thrown by the suitors miss their marks due to Athene’s intervention, although Telemachus and Eumaeus sustain minor injuries. Again Odysseus’ men throw their spears effectively, then use their second spears to engage the suitors in close melee.
Athene throws the suitors into a blind panic, and soon the four allies slaughter most all of them. Leodes leaps before Odysseus and demands mercy because he did not partake in the suitors’ sinful practices. However, because Leodes is a suitor who meant to win Odysseus’ wife while the latter was still alive, Odysseus shows him no mercy; the warrior picks up a stray sword and lops off the prophet’s head. Phemius the bard also begs for mercy, claiming the suitors forced him to sing for them. Telemachus backs up his claim, adding that Medon the faithful herald should also be spared. Odysseus heeds his son and sends the two men out of the courtyard.
With the suitors dead, Odysseus summons Eurycleia and orders her to bring forth the maidservants who slept with the suitors. These women assist the fighters in carrying the corpses into the courtyard...
(The entire section is 1,158 words.)