Book Twenty-Three

The mansion is purged with fire and brimstone. Odysseus tells everyone to dress in their finest and dance, so that passers-by won't suspect what's happened. Even Odysseus could not hold vengeful kinfolk at bay.

Penelope still won't accept that it's truly her husband returned unless he gives her some secret sign. She tells a servant to make up his bed in the hall.

"In the hall!" storms Odysseus. "Who had the craft to move my bed? I carved the bedpost myself from the living trunk of an olive tree and built the bedroom around it."

Penelope rushes into his arms. The joy they share is like that of a drowning man who feels solid ground beneath his feet once more .

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NOTES

like This is one of Homer's many vivid similes, which evoke glimpses of life in ancient days. (A simile is a figure of speech generally using "like" or "as" to compare two dissimilar things.) During the Heroic Age, seafaring was a perilous affair. (back)


Seafaring in ancient times. (back)

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