The Odyssey: A Summary Book II - A Hero's Son Awakens Telemachus calls an assembly of the men of Ithaca. It is the first assembly that has been called since Odysseus left. Telemachus announces that he will tolerate the suitors no longer, and states that if he were powerful enough he would punish them. The suitors refuse to leave until Penelope selects one of them. Telemachus states that he will go seek news of Odysseus. If he discovers his father is dead, he will force Penelope to choose another husband. With Athena's help, Telemachus assembles a crew, and after loading a ship with supplies, he sets sail to Pylos. Book III - Telemachus Meets Nestor After arriving at Pylos, Telemachus explains to Nestor the reason for his journey. Nestor tells Telemachus of the last days of the Trojan war. He, also, tells him that he last saw Odysseus on his ship heading for home. Since he has no recent information, Nestor suggests Telemachus go speak with Menelaus in Sparta. Book IV - The Visit To Sparta When Telemachus arrives in Sparta a wedding feast is going on for King Menelaus son and daughter, so he is unable to speak to Menelaus until the next day. Menelaus is upset to hear of the conditions on Ithaca. He informs Telemachus that he heard Odysseus is alive but is being help captive by Calypso. Meanwhile, in Ithaca the suitors have found out Telemachus has set sail. They plot to ambush him while he is at sea and kill him. Books VI, VII and VIII - The Phaeacians Help The Phaeacian king and Queen extend to Odysseus their hospitality. They provide assistance to help him on his journey home. While at a banquet, stories of Troy are told which bring great sadness to Odysseus. Books XIII, XIV, XV, and XVI - The Return to Ithaca Finally, Odysseus gets to go home. He leaves the land of the Phaeacians, transported in one of their ships. Because the Phaeacians have treated Odysseus with so much kindness, they incur the wrath of Poseidon. When Odysseus arrives on the shores of Ithaca, he is meet by Athena. She suggests he disguise himself as a beggar so he can assess the situation at home. In the disguise of a beggar, Odysseus leaves the beaches and travels into the hills. He arrives at the farm of one of his servants, Eumaeus. Eumaeus has remained loyal to Odysseus throughout his twenty year absence. Returning from his trip to see Menelaus in Sparta, Telemachus, also, goes to Eumaeus' farm. When they are alone together, Odysseus identifies himself to Telemachus. Together they formulate a plan to get rid of the suitors. Remaining in disguise, Odysseus will travel to the palace. He will keep his identity secret, even from Penelope, until the proper time to take vengeance arrives. Book XVII - Odysseus Arrives at the Palace The next morning, Telemachus returns to the palace and tells his mother all the information he has gained about Odysseus. Penelope wants to believe that Odysseus may still be alive, but she has almost lost all hope. Later that day, Odysseus and Eumaeus approach the palace. They meet Melanthius, another servant of Odysseus, on the way. Melanthius has been disloyal to Odysseus by catering to the whims of the suitors. He does not recognize Odysseus, who is still disguised as a beggar, and he insults and kicks him. Odysseus is scarcely able to hold his temper. When Eumaeus and Odysseus enter the palace, the suitors are feasting at the banquet table. Telemachus offers food to the beggar (Odysseus), and gives him permission to beg. Antinous, the leader of the suitors, insults Odysseus and beats him with a footstool. Odysseus swears to himself that he will have revenge for this act of cruelty. Penelope asks Eumaeus about the beggar (Odysseus). She requests he tell his story, and asks if he has any news of her husband. Odysseus agrees to speak with her later. Book XVIII - The Suitors Torment Odysseus Irus, a beggar who is the favorite of the suitors, arrives at the palace after the banquet. Irus taunts and threatens Odysseus, who is still in disguise. Antinous decides to have the two beggars fight each other. When Odysseus takes off his shirt, his strong, muscled body frightens Irus. Although Odysseus tries not to hurt Irus, he breaks his jaw. Penelope appears before the suitors. She rebukes them for the fight that just occurred, and for depleting her husband's estate. Eurymachus, one of the suitors, has taken Melantho, Odysseus' servant, as his mistress. Odysseus censures Melantho for her disloyalty. A ruckus ensues between Eurymachus and Odysseus. Telemachus intervenes by telling everyone to go to bed. The suitors are all surprised, but they do as ordered. Book XIX - The Beggar Meets Penelope After everyone has retired for the evening, Odysseus and Telemachus clear all the weapons from the hall and hide them. Penelope comes down to the hall, and she and Odysseus talk. She tells him how much she has missed her husband, and how many tricks she has implemented in order to put the suitors off. Odysseus, deeply affected by her story, tells her about himself and claims to have known her husband. Penelope is deeply touched, and orders one of her maids to wash the old beggar's feet. While Eurycleia, an old nurse, washes Odysseus' feet, she realizes that this is her master. She recognizes it is Odysseus because of an old scar on his leg. Odysseus orders her to keep his identity secret. Penelope decides to hold a contest to see which suitor will become her husband. The one who is able to shoot an arrow through twelve axe handles will win her hand in marriage. This is a feat that previously only Odysseus could do. The beggar tells Penelope that this is a good idea. Retiring to her room, Penelope is overcome with grief over the memory of Odysseus. She is unable to stop crying until Athena intervenes and brings her sleep. Book XX - The Plan Begins Odysseus is unable to sleep as he plans the upcoming confrontation with the suitors. Athena appears before him, and promising her help, tells him he will be victorious. Penelope prays to the gods for rescue, even if it means death, from marriage to another man. When the morning arrives, Odysseus asks Zeus for a favorable sign. As the god's thunder rumbles, the suitors notice and become uneasy. Odysseus carefully observes the behavior of the servants in order to determine who has been loyal. He is able to determine that Philoetuis has been loyal. The suitors return for lunch. One of them insults Odysseus and throws a bone at him. Telemachus is outraged at their behavior, and proceeds to berate them. A soothsayer warns the suitors of their impending doom, but they ignore him. The suitors continue with their gorging and feasting, while Telemachus awaits his father's signal. Book XXI - The Contest Penelope informs the suitors of her plans for the contest. The suitors must use Odysseus' great bow. Whoever can both string the bow and shoot an arrow through twelve axes, will be Penelope's next husband. The suitors accept the challenge. While the suitors are making their preparations, Odysseus takes Eumaeus and Philoetius aside, and after identifying himself, enlists their aid in his plan. None of the suitors is able to string Odysseus' great bow. When Antinous suggests the contest be continued the next day, Odysseus asks for a chance to try the bow. The suitors refuse his request, but Penelope intervenes. Telemachus orders his mother to leave the hall, and he hands the bow to Odysseus. Eumaeus and Philoetius secretly lock the doors to the hall. Odysseus takes the bow and easily strings it. He effortlessly shoots an arrow through the twelve axes. While the suitors sit in surprise, Telemachus arms himself with a sword and goes to his father's side. Book XXII - The Death of the Suitors Odysseus kills Antinous with the next arrow. The suitors think the beggar has gone crazy until Odysseus identifies himself. In horror, Eurymachus tries to blame the dead Antinous for the actions of the suitors. Odysseus answers him by killing him with the next arrow. Pandemonium breaks out as the suitors attempt to defend themselves. Odysseus; however; eliminates them one by one. Telemachus brings out arms for Odysseus, Eumaeus, Philoetius, and himself. These four fight bravely together until all the suitors are killed. Odysseus calls to Euryclea, and has her identify all of the maids who were disloyal to him. Twelve maids are targeted, and Odysseus makes them clean out the carnage in the hall After they complete their chores, the maids are taken outside and hanged. Melanthius is killed and mutilated for his treacherous behavior. The hall is then fumigated by the burning of brimstone. Book XXIII - The Reunion Eurycleia rushes up to Penelope's bed chamber to inform her that the suitors are dead, and Odysseus has returned. Penelope, not believing this story, goes down to the hall to see what has occurred. Penelope doesn't recognize Odysseus because he is still dressed as a beggar and is covered in blood. Penelope tests Odysseus by telling him his bed has been moved. He is outraged because the bed is made from an olive tree that grows through the center of the palace, and cannot be moved. This is a secret only the two of them share so his knowledge assures Penelope that this is indeed Odysseus. The two share a loving reunion. Athena delays the sunrise so the two lovers can have more time together. The next day, Odysseus goes to visit his father, Laertes. Book XXIV - Peace Comes to Ithaca In Hades all the dead souls of Odysseus' former comrades in Troy are surprised when Hermes arrives leading the souls of the dead suitors. They are impressed by Odysseus' valor and his wife's loyalty. When Odysseus arrives at his father's farm, Laertes is overcome with joy. Meanwhile the people of Ithaca have learned of Odysseus' return and the slaughter that took place. At an assembly, the relatives of the slain suitors seek retribution. Arming themselves, they follow Odysseus to Laertes' farm. Athena wants to help Odysseus, so she asks Zeus for permission. Zeus, feeling Odysseus was justified in his actions, agrees to let Athena intervene. When the armed relatives arrive at Laertes' farm, a fight breaks out. A thunderbolt from Zeus gets everyone's attention and Athena orders that peace be restored. Odysseus returns to reign as king of Ithaca.