This book recounts the evening of the long thirty-ninth day (cf. Appendix A), which brings the removal of the arms (1–52) and the conversation between 'the beggar' and the queen (53–604).
The reunion of Odysseus and Penelope1 is the longest and most intricate instance of the *'delayed recognition' story-pattern: after she has communicated with 'the stranger' via a messenger in 17.492–606 and he has watched her in action in 18.158–303, they now finally meet. We have the elements of (i) the other person spontaneously starting to talk about the unrecognized person and topics which are relevant to him (124–61); (ii) the unrecognized person testing (44–6; cf. 13.336) and being tested (215–19; 23.113–81); (iii) the telling of a lying tale (165–299); and (iv)–(vii) Penelope's recognition of absent Odysseus (185–257). At the very moment when Penelope seems about to penetrate Odysseus' disguise, the narrator veers off and inserts Euryclea's recognition (317–507), which is carefully kept hidden from Penelope. Therefore this evening does not bring the recognition of Odysseus by Penelope, which will not take place, after a set of dreamed/fantasized reunions (20.1–121), until 23.1–296.
Why this late reunion and why is Penelope excluded from the revenge scheme (cf. 13.192, 403; 16.303, 457–9; 19.476–90; in fact, her exclusion starts back in 4.830–7, when the Dream refuses to tell her about Odysseus)? Neither the narrator nor Athena nor Odysseus provides a reason, and this ellipsis † has led to a great deal of speculation. The following factors would seem to play a role. (i) The late reunion of husband and wife allows the nar-____________________