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The Wine Red Sea:  Journeys of Odysseus
© Copyright 2014 - 2018 by Peter J Ponzio

Odysseus and Penelope Reunited, Book XXIII

Odysseus continued, saying:  “There’s the secret sign, I tell you-our life story!/Does the bed, my lady, still stand planted firm?”  (XXIII 226-227).  Penelope, realizing that Odysseus knew the signs, rushed to his arms, tears of joy streaming down her face.  At last she was reunited with her husband after twenty years. Meeting of Ulysses and Penelope Penelope, speaking now to Odysseus, said that it was the gods who willed that they suffer so much sorrow, but that the time for sorrow was now over.  As she embraced him, she vowed to never let him go.  One more thing the goddess Athena willed, for the goddess “held back the night, and night lingered long/at the western edge of the earth, while in the east/she reigned in Dawn of the golden throne at Ocean’s banks” (XXIII 276-278). As the sun rose, Odysseus told Penelope of his last quest, foretold to him by Tiresias: One more labor lies in store- boundless, laden with danger, great and long, and I must brave it out from start to finish. So the ghost of Tiresias prophesied to me, the day I went down to the House of Death. (XXIII 283-287) And Odysseus, tired at last, told his wife it was time for bed.  But Penelope answered, there will be time for bed after he related to her the details of his last journey.  The prophet said that I must rove through towns on towns of men, that I must carry a well=planed oar until I come to a people who know nothing of the sea, whose food is never seasoned with salt, strangers all to ships with their crimson prows and long slim oars, wings that make ships fly.  And here is my sign, he told me, clear, so clear I cannot miss it, and I will share with you now. . . When another traveler falls in with me and calls that weight across my shoulder a fan to winnow grain, then, he told me, I must plant my oar in the earth and sacrifice fine beasts to the lord god of the sea, Poseidon- a ram, a bull and a ramping wild boar- then journey home and render noble offerings up to the deathless gods who rule the vaulting skies, to all the gods in order. And at last my own death will steal upon me. . . a gentle, painless death, far from the sea it comes to take me down, borne down with the years in ripe old age with all my people here in blessed peace around me.  (XXIII 304-324)