A Narratological Commentary on the Odyssey

By Irene J. F. De Jong | Go to book overview

BOOK SIXTEEN

This book covers the thirty-eighth day (cf. Appendix A), which is filled mainly by the reunion of Odysseus and Telemachus (an instance of the 'delayed recognition' story-pattern) and their planning of the revenge on the Suitors, which continues the planning of Athena and Odysseus in Book 13. After that, the narrator switches to the palace, for 'the Suitors in conference' and 'Penelope leaves her room' scenes.

The subject of the reunion of father and son is underscored by the narrator through his use of periphrastic denomination †: more than in any other book, Odysseus is referred to as 'father' (42, 192, 214, 221), Telemachus as 'son' (11, 178, 190, 308, 339, 452).1

1–153 An instance of the *(overnight) 'visit' type-scene, with a number of effective adaptations:2 Telemachus (i) sets off (15.555a); (ii) arrives at his destination (15.555b–557); instead of having him (iii) find Eumaeus, the narrator inserts an abrupt change of scene (16.1–3), so that he can present (iv) Telemachus' reception from the standpoint of Eumaeus and Odysseus (4–48);3 (v) meal (49–54); and (vi) after-dinner conversation (55–153). From now on, Telemachus no longer behaves as a guest nor Eumaeus as a host; thus when Eumaeus returns to his hut in the evening, he finds Telemachus and Odysseus busy preparing dinner (452–4), and afterwards the three simply go to sleep, without any talk about preparing beds (480–1).

As earlier, when Eumaeus took care of 'the stranger' (cf. Introduction to 14), his humble but warm hospitality is stressed: he improvises a seat for Telemachus out of green brushwood and fleece (47; cf. 14.49–51), serves the

____________________
1
De Jong (1993: 302–6).
2
Arend (1933: 45–6) and Tsagarakis (1982: 70–1).
3
Friedrich (1975: 33) and Richardson (1990: 117).

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