Book Two

Inspired by Athena, Telemachus calls a council of all the men of Ithaca. He asks them how they can stand idly by and allow his mother's hospitality to be abused. Antinous, one of the ringleaders of the suitors, brazenly puts the blame on Penelope, for not choosing one of them as husband.

"She has even resorted to trickery," claims Antinous. "At first she said she'd choose among us just as soon as she finished her weaving. But she secretly unraveled it every night."

Hot words are exchanged, and Zeus sends an omen. Two eagles swoop down on the congregation, tearing cheeks and necks with their talons. A wise man interprets this as impending doom for the suitors.

In closing, Telemachus asks his countrymen to fit him out with a ship so that he might seek news of his father.

Back in his own hall, Telemachus is greeted by Antinous, who suggests that they share a feast together just as they did when Telemachus was still a boy. Telemachus replies that he'll see him dead first. The other suitors mock the young man for his fighting words.

Seeking out his aged nursemaid, Eurycleia, Telemachus instructs her to prepare barley meal and wine for the crew of his ship. He makes her swear an oath that she will not tell his mother of his departure until he is ten days gone.

That night a sleek black vessel crewed by twenty oarsmen puts out to sea, with Telemachus and Athena, his godly patron in disguise, seated in the stern.

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NOTES

council Such a formal assembly of the males of a community was marked by certain rituals and customs. For instance, when he addressed the assembly Telemachus held a staff, which indicated that it was his turn to speak. Brought almost to tears by his own indignation, he throws this to the ground after he has chastised the people for not coming to the aid of their king's family. (back)

Antinous (an-TIN-oh-us) (back)

Eurycleia (yoo-rih-KLY-uh) This faithful slave, purchased by Odysseus' father for twenty oxen, was treated as a member of the family. (back)

Book number: 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10 - 11 - 12 - 13 - 14 - 15 - 16 - 17 - 18 - 19 - 20 - 21 - 22 - 23 - 24