At long last, Odysseus is ferried to his home island, Ithaca, and left by the Phaeacians sleeping on its shores. Naturally, he doesn’t recognize the landscape when he wakes up and believing himself betrayed proceeds to curse the ship-faring people. This curse is fulfilled, though not because they broke their bargain but because they upheld it.

These chapters are rather entertaining because Odysseus is just lying and deceiving left and right even to those loyal to him. Tales of piracy, kidnapping and shipwreck pervade these chapters, all of them false. One really begins to wonder if the previous four chapters were just another creation from that wily mind.

Alone and in the guise of a beggar, Odysseus becomes the guest of his servant, the swineherd Eumaeus, and learns the misfortunes of his house. At the same time, Telemachus spurred on by Athena races to return home. He narrowly evades the ships waiting to intercept and kill him. Following the advice of Athena he also retreats to the Swineherd’s abode where he meets his father for the first time.

We are treated to foreshadowing in the form of prophecy. More than once a mighty royal eagle or two proceeds to tear into poor hapless geese. It is hinted to Odysseus and Telemachus that they are destined to destroy the suitors and retake their birthright. Telemachus is doubtful that the two of them alone can take on over a hundred enemies but Odysseus reminds his son that Athena stands by their side. (However she did not come to Odysseus’ aid while on his journey. The reader wonders whether they can rely on her. The gods are fickle after all.)

While Odysseus and Telemachus plot the destruction of the suitors, their enemies are also formulating their own plans. Having failed to kill Telemachus at sea, they decide to perform the deed when Telemachus returns so that he cannot rally the people to his cause. Violent and brutal Antinous, deceitful Eurymachus, and Amphinomus, the favorite of Queen Penelope, are prominent in the proceedings. However, Queen Penelope overhears their plot and seeks to avert it.

This is the calm before the storm. The chapters act as the setup bringing together the critical players before the action gets underway. Homer is preparing us for the climax.  

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