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Books 13-14

Course Hero’s video study guide provides in-depth summary and analysis of Books 13-14 of Homer’s epic poem The Odyssey.

The Odyssey | Books 13–14 | Summary

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Summary

Book 13

With this final story, Odysseus finishes his tale for the Phaeacians. The epic shifts back to the present. He is ready to return to Ithaca, finally, and the king once again promises his help to Odysseus. This angers Poseidon, who still holds a grudge against Odysseus. He appeals to Zeus, who allows Poseidon to take out his frustration on the Phaeacians for helping Odysseus.

Book 14

With the help of the Phaeacians, Odysseus reaches Ithaca. Athena guides him once again, surrounding him with an obscuring mist so that he can't recognize his own home. She appears in disguise as a shepherd and tells him that he is home. Odysseus does not reveal his true identity to her, whereupon Athena changes into her goddess form and praises Odysseus for his cleverness. Odysseus, unaware of all of Athena's maneuverings thus far, asks her why she seemed to forget him after the war. Athena tells him she was afraid of incurring the wrath of Poseidon. She also warns him that all is not well at his home, and Odysseus learns about the suitors. He asks Athena for help, and she disguises him as a beggar and sends him off to meet his old loyal swineherd, Eumaeus. As a test of Eumaeus's loyalty, the disguised Odysseus makes up a story of how Odysseus once generously lent him a cloak when he thought he might freeze to death. Eumaeus, delighted by this story of his master's virtue, lends the beggar his own cloak.

Analysis

The punishment of the Phaeacians is another example of Poseidon's vengeance and of the importance of not defying the gods. Given that Odysseus had told them of Poseidon's persecution of him, they were, in a sense, forewarned.

The interaction between Eumaeus and Odysseus (in disguise) shows how Odysseus's true friends have stayed loyal to him despite having no news of him for nearly 10 years. Eumaeus despises the suitors and their disrespect of Odysseus's home and legacy. He believes that the suitors will be appropriately punished by the gods for this disrespect. The story that the disguised Odysseus tells Eumaeus aligns closely with events in his own life, and through the telling it's clear he regrets that he deserted his family in his quest for glory. Now that he has gained some distance and perspective, Odysseus seems to recognize that he will benefit more from piety and humility.

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