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The Odyssey

Homer
Summary

Key Questions and Answers

Summary Key Questions and Answers

14) How do Odysseus and Telemachus defeat the suitors?

Odysseus and Telemachus face great odds when they take on the 108 suitors vying for Penelope’s hand at the palace. While Odysseus and Telemachus only have Eumaeus and a servant on their side, they also have a hidden weapon in Athena, disguised as Mentor, who joins them after the fight breaks out. Athena uses words to inspire Odysseus to tap into his ultimate courage and strength, taunting, “Where’s it gone, Odysseus—your power, your fighting heart? . . . How can you . . . bewail the loss of your combat strength in a war with suitors,” and she uses her powers to divert the suitors’ arrows from their mark. Athena only physically engages in the battle once Odysseus and Telemachus have proven their worthiness by fighting with determination. Once Athena enters the battle, armed with her “man-destroying shield of thunder,” the terrified suitors stop fighting and scatter, allowing Odysseus and his men to ruthlessly slaughter them.