Once home, the disguised Odysseus first visits his trusty swineherd, Eumaios, who grants Odysseus shelter.  From Eumaios, Odysseus learns of the disarray in Ithaca, as the Suitors have plundered Odysseus' kingdom in their quest for Penelope's hand.  While visiting with Eumaios, Odysseus also comes into contact with Telemachus.  The two are reunited and Odysseus reveals himself to his son.

Odysseus then moves on to his manor, still disguised as a beggar.  He is abused and ridiculed by the Suitors and their ringleader, Antinoos.  Maintaining his anonymity, Odysseus plots his revenge.  At night, he converses with Penelope, although she knows not that she speaks with her own husband.  As Odysseus and Penelope speak, the old nurse Eurykleia, who has been Odysseus' nurse since his childhood, bathes him.  As she bathes him, she accidentally discovers a scar Odysseus incurred as a young man while boar hunting, but Odysseus silences Eurykleia before she can reveal his true identity to Penelope. 

The following day, Penelope presents the Suitors with a challenge.  The first Suitor who can string Odysseus' old bow (which originally belonged to Hercules) and fire an arrow through twelve metal rings will finally win her hand in marriage.  The Suitors try, but strain as they might none can string the bow.  Finally, a disguised Odysseus attempts to string the bow, much to the amusement of and ridicule by the Suitors.  In one motion, he not only strings the bow but fires an arrow through the twelve metal rings.  The true identity of the beggar is revealed: he is Odysseus, lord of Ithaca, finally returned home to reclaim his kingdom and family.

After revealing himself, Odysseus slaughters the Suitors in a bloody battle, leaving not one alive.  He even hangs the housemaids who were unfaithful to his family in his absence.

Following the slaughter, Odysseus and Penelope finally reunite in private.  Penelope tests Odysseus to make sure he is truly her husband: she feigns that their wedding bed, secretly built with a living olive tree trunk as a post, has been moved.  When Odysseus reacts with anger, Penelope knows it is her husband and the two spend the night in each other's arms for the first time in 20 years.

The following day, Odysseus and Telemachus journey to the family orchard to reunite with Odysseus' aged father, Laertes.  After the three share a tearful reunion and meal, they are confronted by the townspeople, angered by the brutal slaying of the Suitors.  As Odysseus, Telemachus and Laertes begin battling with the townspeople, Athena descends from Mount Olympus and ends the conflict, ordering that all parties cease fighting and live in peace.  

And so ends Homer's Odyssey.

Although tradition hints that Odysseus' wanderings continued...

(back to The Story 2)