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SHORT PLOT SUMMARY (Synopsis)
At Odysseus' palace in Ithaca, the suitors of his wife, Penelope, are wasting his wealth during his long absence. Odysseus had left Ithaca to battle against the Trojans in the Trojan War, which lasted twelve years. The battle had been won, and most warriors have long since returned home. Odysseus and his men, however, are still missing. The reader learns that he is living in captivity at the isle of Ogygia with the nymph Calypso, who loves him dearly. In a council of the gods, Athena obtains permission to have Odysseus freed. She then appears at Ithaca in front of Odysseus' son, Telemachus, in disguise and urges him to go looking for news of his father. Telemachus visits Pylos and Sparta and learns about his father's heroic acts from Nestor, Menelaus, and Helen.
In the meantime, Odysseus is released from his captivity on Calypso's isle and reaches the kingdom of Phaecia. He recounts the tales of his adventures after the battle of Troy to the Phaecians, after which the Phaecians aid him in reaching his homeland. Upon reaching Ithaca, Athena disguises him as a beggar. He stays at his swineherd's house, to which Athena brings his son, Telemachus. She reveals the hero's true identity to his son and together they plot the slaying of the suitors. Telemachus goes back to the palace while the disguised Odysseus follows him later to town. He sees the suitors' misbehavior for himself and also ascertains which of his servants have been loyal to him and which have not. Penelope announces that she will marry the suitor who is able to string Odysseus' bow and then shoot an arrow through a row of twelve axes. The suitors try and fail miserably. The disguised Odysseus strings the bow and shoots the arrow through all the axes. With the aid of Telemachus and a few loyal servants, Odysseus kills the evil suitors. Odysseus is reunited with his family. A feud erupts between the slain suitors' kinsmen and Odysseus, but is hastily stopped by a flaming bolt thrown by Zeus and by an order from Athena.