A Narratological Commentary on the Odyssey

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

BOOK TWENTY-FOUR

The last (forty-first) day of the Odyssey brings an 'Underworld' scene (24.1–204), Odysseus' reunion with Laertes (24.205–412), and the confrontation and reconciliation with the families of the Suitors (24.413–548). Whereas the first two parts show the usual leisurely epic pace, the narrator rushes through the last part.

Though they have been suspected from antiquity onwards, the final scenes of the Odyssey are indispensable; cf. 23.296n.1 They bring the necessary closure of the story in the following ways. (i) Ring-composition † with the beginning of the story: we have another assembly of the Ithacans (24.420–66; cf. 2.1–259) and another council of the gods (24.472–88; cf. 1.26–95); for ring-composition as a closural device, cf. 13.36–63n.2 (ii) A great number of characters take their curtain call: Odysseus, Telemachus, and Athena, the ghost of Achilles, the ghost of Agamemnon, Amphimedon, Laertes, the herald Medon, and the seer Halitherses.3 (iii) An important theme of the Odyssey, the comparison of the fates of the various Trojan War veterans, is rounded off; cf. 1–204n. (iv) Two internal analepses † together bring a retrospective of almost the entire fabula † of the Odyssey: 23.310–41 (' ten years of travel) and 24.121–85 (the Suitors' three-year presence in the palace and their death at the hands of Odysseus). (v) Two external prolepses † inform the narratees about what will happen to Odysseus after the end of the story: 23.267–84 and 354–8.

____________________
1
Scott (1917), Macknail (1936), Lord (1960: 182–5), Stanford (1965), Bona (1966: 115–22), Bertman (1968), Erbse (1972: 166–244), Moulton (1974), Wender (1978), Nagler (1990), and Kullmann (1992: 291–304).
2
(For the Iliad) Whitman (1958: 259–60) and Macleod (1982: 32–5).
3
(For the Iliad) Taplin (1992: 253).

-565-

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A Narratological Commentary on the Odyssey
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • Glossary xi
  • Commentary 1
  • Book One 3
  • Book Two 44
  • Book Three 68
  • Book Four 89
  • Book Five 123
  • Book Six 149
  • Book Seven 170
  • Book Eight 190
  • Book Nine 221
  • Book Ten 250
  • Book Eleven 271
  • Book Twelve 296
  • Book Thirteen 313
  • Book Fourteen 340
  • Book Fifteen 362
  • Book Sixteen 385
  • Book Seventeen 407
  • Book Eighteen 437
  • Book Nineteen 458
  • Book Twenty 483
  • Book Twenty-One 504
  • Book Twenty-Two 524
  • Book Twenty-Three 545
  • Book Twenty-Four 565
  • Appendix A - The Fabula of the Odyssey 587
  • Appendix B - The Continuity of Time Principle and the 'Interlace' Technique 589
  • Appendix C - The Piecemeal Distribution of the Nostoi of Odysseus, Agamemnon, and Menelaus 591
  • Appendix D - 'storm' Scenes in the Odyssey 594
  • Appendix E - The Recurrent Elements of Odysseus' Lying Tales 596
  • Appendix F - The 'storeroom' Type-Scene 598
  • Bibliography 599
  • Index of Greek Words 622
  • Index of Subjects 624
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