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Book 24

Course Hero’s video study guide provides in-depth summary and analysis of Book 24 of Homer’s epic poem The Odyssey.

The Odyssey | Book 24 | Summary

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Summary

The final book of The Odyssey opens in a different location from the previous chapter, with Hermes bringing the souls of the dead suitors to the Land of the Dead. There they meet Achilles and Agamemnon, who ask how so many young warriors could have died. After one recounts the tale, Agamemnon contrasts the betrayal he suffered at the hands of his own wife with Penelope's steadfast loyalty.

Odysseus visits his father, Laertes, who seems old and broken. He does not recognize his son; Odysseus does not say who he is. As the old man laments the loss of his son, Odysseus is overcome and reveals himself. After he proves the truth of his claim by showing a scar and recounting memories, the two reconcile and enjoy a lunch Telemachus helped prepare.

The families of the slain suitors are seeking revenge on Odysseus, but Athena intervenes to help Odysseus avoid another fight. She causes the families to forget their losses, and Odysseus is once again installed as Ithaca's revered king.

Analysis

Many readers have questioned why The Odyssey doesn't just end with Penelope and Odysseus reuniting. But the final book wraps up a few important plot points. Remember that Odysseus encountered his mother in the Land of the Dead, and she informed him of his father's suffering. Odysseus's reunion with his father provides another resolution and also solidifies the father-son motif that runs throughout the epic.

It is telling that Athena appears undisguised at the conclusion of the book. She gives direct orders from the gods for peace in Ithaca. This seems to be a notable message that it is futile to oppose the will of the gods.

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