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Useful weblinks: Return from Troy - Episode 12

Odysseus kills the suitors

Below are a series of images showing the moment of Odysseus’ revenge on the suitors:*Images*3PictureOdysseus.jpg/*postOneLiners.html/

How do you feel listening to this episode? Do you feel any sympathy for the suitors or did they get what they deserve? Would a modern audience and an ancient audience have viewed the scene differently?

Here are some opinions on whether the slaughter of the suitors was justified. Set up a debate with your students asking them to look at both sides of the argument.

This is a detailed discussion of the suitors, including details from the Odyssey not mentioned in the episode:

Ask your students to discuss some of the following ideas:

  • Were the suitors wrong to court Penelope in the first place?
  • When did their behaviour turn bad?
  • What specifically did they do wrong?
  • Is Penelope in any way to blame for their behaviour?
  • Should Odysseus have shown any more mercy to them?
  • Was he justified in also punishing the disloyal slave-women?  

The gods’ involvement

Image showing Athene helping Odysseus:
What evidence is there in this episode of the gods helping Odysseus or approving his actions?

Athene takes away Odysseus’ disguise - how would you feel at this point if you were a suitor?

Can you recall other moments in the story of Odysseus when Athene (or other gods/goddesses) have helped Odysseus?

Odysseus’ bed

This is how artist Will Doran has chosen to depict Odysseus’ bed, built around an olive tree:

Others have used the tree as a bed post, or branches of the tree making up the entire frame of the bed. How do you imagine the bed to look?

Here is an interesting discussion on Penelope’s cleverness:
Think about the way she confirms Odysseus is who he says by mentioning the bed. Does this show us that she is a suitable wife for the cunning Odysseus?

The Oar or Winnowing fan

In Book 11 of the Odyssey, Tiresias gives Odysseus instructions on what to do after he’s killed the suitors. Here are his instructions from the Odyssey: 

‘Winowing Oar’ by Conrad Shawcross (2004) - inspired by Homer

This is and interesting discussion of what the oar could symbolise: