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

The King Returns, Book XXII

Phemius, hearing Telemachus plead his case, grasped the knees of the Prince in supplication.  But Odysseus, satisfied that his vengeance had been taken on the suitors, assured that bard that he was safe, thanks to the assurance given by Telemachus, saying:  “The prince had pulled you through, he saved you now/so you can take it to heart and tell the next man too:/ clearly doing good puts doing bad to shame” (XXII 394-396).  After the bard and the herald went into the courtyard, the master tactician surveyed the hall:  suitors lied everywhere, “like fish that fishermen/drag from the churning gray surf in looped and coiling nets/and fling ashore on a sweeping hook of beach” (XXII 409-411).  Odysseus then asked Telemachus to find his nurse, Eurycleia.  She, coming down to the hall, witnessed the suitors, all slain, and saw her master, triumphant.  Odysseus, seeing her sudden look of triumph, replied to her: Rejoice in you heart, old woman-peace!  No cries of triumph now. It’s unholy to glory over the bodies of the dead. These men the doom of the gods has brought low, and their own indecent acts.  (XXII 435-438) Then Odysseus asked his nurse to tell him which of the serving women were loyal to his house, which were loyal to the suitors.  She replied that there were fifty women in the household, and of that number, twelve were loyal to the suitors.  Odysseus then asked the nurse to summon the twelve unfaithful women, and ask them to come into the hall.  Then Odysseus ordered Telemachus, his two companions and the women to clean the hall, telling them to make sure that all the gore was removed.  Once the women came downstairs, he had them move the bodies into the courtyard, and ordered them to clean up the filth.  After the house was put in order, he had the women moved outside into the courtyard.  Telemachus then lashed the women together with strong cords, hanging them so that their insolence was finally out to an end.  After the women were dead, they brought Melanthius out, cut off his nose, ears and genitals and then hacked off his hands and feet.  Having finished his reprisals at last, Odysseus asked Eurycleia to bring sulfur to scour the floors and fir, so that the house could be fumigated.  He then asked the nurse to wake Penelope and ask her to come down into the hall with the remaining serving-women. The women came with Eurycleia, happy to see their master; happy that the suitors were gone.  Their king was home at last.   The Return of Odysseus