Books 17-19: Odysseus in the Palace

Book XVII: Telemachus returns to the palace

The next day, Telemachus returns to the palace. There he is greeted by Eurycleia and Penelope. He fetches Theoclymenus, who announces through his seer's art that Odysseus has already returned. Telemachus then informs his mother about his travels. Odysseus and Eumaeus leave the hut and make their way to the palace. They meet Melantheus the goatherd, who insults the disguised hero. In the town, Odysseus is recognised by his old dog Argus, who dies before revealing his identity. Odysseus proceeds to enter his own home, still disguised, and beg from the suitors. Antinous throws a chair at him, and the others mock him. Eumaeus tells Penelope that a stranger has come to town, one who has news of her husband. Penelope orders that he be brought to her. Eumaeus goes home, leaving Odysseus in the palace.

Book XVIII: The boxing match of Odysseus and Irus

The suitors incite a boxing match between Odysseus and another beggar named Irus, who aggressively challenges his rival to a fight. Irus is swiftly knocked out. Odysseus warns Amphinomus that the suitors' doom is near. Athena inspires Penelope to appear before the suitors in order to receive some gifts from them, enticing them with talk of marriage. Melantho, a slave girl, insults Odysseus; now Eurymachus throws a chair at him. Telemachus stops them from continuing their mockery, and the suitors retire home for the evening.

Book XIX: Eurycleia recognises Odysseus

During the night, Odysseus and his son take down all the arms and armour from the great hall. Melantho insults him again, but this time the abuse is returned. He then has his interview with Penelope, who tells him of her predicament with the suitors, and her trick of undoing the tapestry. Odysseus tells his third Cretan tale, in which he claims to have entertained Odysseus in Crete. He says that her husband is at present in Thesprotia, but will soon be home. Eurycleia is told to wash his feet. She recognises the scar he once got as a child, but he is able to prevent her from giving his secret away. Penelope tells the beggar (her husband) of a dream she had concerning geese. He interprets the dream correctly. She then tells him of her plan to choose her husband by the archery contest.

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