This book continues the long fortieth day of the Odyssey (cf. Introduction to 20) and finally brings the fulfilment of *' revenge on the Suitors, anticipated from Book 1 onwards. The revenge turns out to involve both cunning (Odysseus uses the bow to make a first surprise hit) and force (having run out of arrows, he fights a regular battle); it thus is a special variant of the *'cunning versus force' theme. His bloody revenge forms the climax of the action of the Odyssey, but as in the case of Hector's death in the Iliad, the story does not stop there: still to come are the reunion with Penelope and Laertes, and the settlement with the families of the Suitors; cf. Introduction to 24.
The revenge unfolds in three 'acts': Odysseus' disclosure of his identity and the first skirmishes (1–98), the battle in which all the Suitors are killed (99–389), and the aftermath, consisting of the execution of the unfaithful servants and the cleaning of the palace (390–501). The order of the killings is the exact reverse of the order of the contestants in the bow-contest, cf. 21.118–39n.
Not surprisingly, this 'battle' book has an Iliadic flavour: we find paraineseis (69–78, 226–35, 247–54, 262–4), a challenge before a duel (60–7), vaunts (194–9, 286–91), 'arming' type-scenes (113–14, 122–5, 148–9), similes (299–301, 302–8, 384–9, 401–6, 468–72; only Book 5 has more similes), a catalogue (241–6), divine interventions (205–40, 256, 273, 297–8), and 'supplication' scenes (310–29, 330–60, 361–80).
The structure of the battle-scenes is symmetrical to a degree not found in the Iliad:1 the killings of Antinous and Eurymachus are doublets (8–88n.),____________________