The Odyssey | Study Guide


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Book 22

Course Hero’s video study guide provides in-depth summary and analysis of Book 22 of Homer’s epic poem The Odyssey.

The Odyssey | Book 22 | Summary



Odysseus removes his rags, prays to Apollo, and then shoots an arrow through Antinous's throat. The other suitors are stunned, and Odysseus announces what he plans to do to the rest of them. They offer to repay everything they have taken from his home, but Odysseus has made up his mind. The suitors attempt to find weapons, but they only have swords and no armor. Odysseus and Telemachus begin to kill the suitors. No one is spared.


Book 22 is the epic's climax. Odysseus has shown restraint and good judgment in biding his time before killing the suitors. This reflects his training and experience as a military leader, as he was able to assess, strategize, and follow through. He is also able to control his emotions. His decision to kill Antinous first is also strategic—he is the most antagonistic of the suitors and their de facto leader. Odysseus kills him before the other suitors have even fully realized that the beggar is, in fact, Odysseus.

The fact that Odysseus denies the suitors' offer of repayment is significant—this is about honor not money. In the ancient Greeks' view of justice, only revenge can balance the scale.

Athena guides Odysseus in this scene and only directly intervenes toward the end, when she appears as Mentor. She knows that Odysseus and Telemachus need to fight their own battle, though she protects them throughout. Odysseus does not necessarily take pleasure in killing the suitors—he believes he is only doing what is just and what the gods have already willed.

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