The Odyssey

Book 22: What do you think of Odysseus killing the suitors? What do you think of his killing of those who embraced his knees and begged for mercy?

(i didnt feel like reading this part.....)

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When Odysseus kills Ktesippos, the rich suitor who had thrown a cow's hoof at him earlier, he has some choice words for him, while the graphic amputation of Melanthios seems appropriate for that of a goatherd; just as Melanthios divided up Odysseus' stock for the suitors, so too does Odysseus divide up Melanthios' body, even pulling "off his genitals to feed the dogs" (529). His dismemberment also recalls the mutilation of the centaur Eurytion that Antinoos describes in Book XXI.

Other deaths are portrayed in an ironic light, as well. The description of Antinoos' death reminds us of his gluttonous ways: "one last kick upset the table / knocking the bread and meat to soak in dusty blood" (20-21). Eurymakhos' death, too, entangles him with Odysseus' food and drink one last time: "He lurched and fell aside, / pitching across his table. His cup, his bread and meat, were spilt and scattered far and wide" (90-92).

Most tellingly, Homer finally pays off the repeated oracular signs of Odysseus as a bird of prey with a simile comparing him and his allies to falcons: "After them the attackers wheeled, as terrible as falcons /from eyries in the mountains veering over and diving down / with talons wide unsheathed on flights of birds" (337-339).

Lest the audience find it unfair that Odysseus receives help from Athena, Homer has her aid Odysseus only at the end of the fight, after his skill and shrewd planning have already tipped the scales of the battle.

Odysseus, though showing no mercy to the two suitors who beg at his knees or to the disloyal women of the house, does forgive his minstrel and herald. His vendetta against the others, then, is somewhat palliated by his kind attitude to them, as well as by his tearful reunion with his servants.