The Odyssey

book 23 quest. 2: What do you think are the moments of greatest tension in Part 2? Cite specific text evidence to support your ideas, and yes you must address counter claims.


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After the climactic battle in Book XXII, Homer maintains the tension in this episode on two fronts. First, Odysseus' reunion with Penelope is suspenseful; after dealing with so many impostors in the past, will she admit this is the true Odysseus, and once she does, how will the two react to each other?

Fittingly, Homer has the couple's bed serve as proof of Odysseus' identity. For a story so concerned with marital longing, the bed is the perfect symbol for their marriage: carved by Odysseus from a solid olive tree, it is a permanent, immovable, and intimate space solely for him and Penelope.

Once the bed clears the air of any suspicions, Homer writes a beautiful emotional payoff of the couple's reunion with elegant and meaningful simile-filled language:

Now from his breast into his eyes the ache

of longing mounted, and he wept at last,

his dear wife, clear and faithful, in his arms,

longed for as the sunwarmed earth is longed for by a swimmer

spent in rough water where his ship went down

under Poseidon's blows, gale winds and tons of sea.


The comparison of Odysseus to a tempest-tossed swimmer is far from arbitrary; the passage nearly provides a synopsis of Odysseus' adventures preceding his arrival in Ithaka.

The second dramatic conflict Homer promises is Odysseus' final trial as prescribed by Teiresias. This mini-odyssey, coupled with Odysseus' need to escape the town and see his father, keeps the audience engaged for the final episode.