The Odyssey

"Books 20 & 21"

Summary of "Books 20 & 21"

"Book 20"

In book 20, Odysseus spends a restless night worrying about the impending battle. Suddenly Athena appears and assures him of vengeful victory. Penelope's room is nearby, and at dawn, he hears the end of her prayer for death if she cannot join her husband. He imagines that she recognizes him and that they are together at last. Athena comes to Penelope in her sleep to comfort her. Odysseus prays to Zeus for a sign of support and is answered by a thunderclap. The suitors are approached with the challenge given by Penelope to string Odysseus's bow. The suitors were also informed of their tragic lives for the future, and told an omen of blood covering the walls. The suitors laugh this off casually.

"Book 21"

In book 21, Penelope announces the contest and retrieves Odysseus' great back sprung bow from a secret storeroom deep in the palace. For sport, Telemachus attempts to string the bow and fails three times. He is about to succeed on his fourth try when Odysseus privately signals him to back off. The suitors then take their turns, their early efforts failing dismally. As the suitors contend, Odysseus meets outside with Eumaeus and Philoetius, his faithful servants and reveals to them his true identity and enlists their support in his plan.Meanwhile, the suitors continue to struggle with the bow. Antinous suggests that the contest be postponed until the next day, but then Odysseus asks if he might give the bow a try, an idea that Penelope strongly supports. Odysseus easily strings the weapon and fires an arrow straight through the axes; then he and Telemachus stand together to face the suitors.

Main Characters

  • 1.Zeus
  • a. Location: Ithaca
  • b. Relatives: Hermes, Athena, Apollo, Artemis, Leto
  • c. Traits: operations of nature, spiritual, leader, ruler, etc.
  • 2.Telemachus
  • a. Location: Ithaca
  • b. Relatives: Penelope, Odyssey
  • c. Traits: weak, loyal, disarmed, strong, etc.
  • 3. Penelope
  • a. Location: Ithaca
  • b. Relatives: Odyssey, Telemachus
  • c. Traits: strong, brave, wise, smart, loyal, etc
  • 4. Athena
  • a. Location: Ithaca
  • b. Relatives: Zeus, Hermes, Apollo, Artemis, Leto
  • c. Traits: fierce, brave, agriculture, patron of the city, handcraft
  • 5. Odysseus
  • a. Location: Ithaca
  • b. Relatives: Penelope, Telemachus
  • c. Traits: strong, powerful, leader, ruler, brave, hero
  • 6. Apollo
  • a. Location: Ithaca
  • b. Relatives: Artemis, Zeus, Athena, Hermes, Leto
  • c. Traits: Archer, god of music, oracular god
  • 7. Melanthius
  • a. Location: Ithaca
  • b. Relatives: Dollus
  • c. Traits: cruel, evil, disrespected,
  • 8. Artemis
  • a. Location: Ithaca
  • Relatives: Apollo, Zeus, Athena, Hermes,

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