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Story Summary: Return From Troy, Episode 12

On this page we have split the telling of this episode into its two main sections and provided a summary of each.

Odysseus slaughters the suitors

A grim harvest (4:48)

Inside the hall Antinous and his men speak disrespectfully of Penelope and curse the memory of Odysseus with whom they are to be compared. From the shadows the old beggar claims that he was once an archer and is ridiculed. Encouraged by Telemachus he takes the bow, draws the string across and looses the arrow clean through the rings of the twelve ceremonial axes and into the wall beyond. The suitors are amazed. A second arrow goes straight through the throat of Antinous who falls down dead. Athene returns Odysseus to his heroic physical stature. The suitors run to grab weapons but all have been removed. They make for the doors but they are locked. Odysseus and Telemachus loose arrow after arrow and when all the arrows are spent, cut and slice the living flesh with spear and sword.

The secret (7:12)

Odysseus calls to Eurycleia and shows her the blood-filled hall but warns her that it is wrong to exult over the slain. He orders the hall to be cleaned of every speck of blood. With Telemachus he drags the bodies down the hill and burns them on a great funeral pyre. Odysseus returns to the spotless hall and sends Eurycleia up to Penelope who is lying asleep in her chamber. She is to be told that her husband is home and waiting for her. Penelope comes down to her husband, looks at him and says nothing. Odysseus tells everyone to leave. Penelope says that she does not recognise him and will not share his bed. The bed must be moved. Odysseus reminds her that he carved it with his own hand from an ancient olive tree and that it cannot be moved. Now Penelope laughs, knowing that this really is Odysseus. He is truly home.

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