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The Odyssey opens to Penelope

When the slaves and Melantiy suffered the deserved punishment, Odysseus commanded Eurycleia brought purifying incense and fumigated the entire banquet hall with it. All the slaves of Odysseus gathered; they surrounded their master and kissed his hands and feet, rejoicing at his return. Odysseus himself wept when he saw his household members again.

Odysseus and Penelope
Odysseus and Penelope.
(Wall painting from Pompeii.)

While Odysseus was greeted by all his household, Eurycleia ran to the chambers Penelope woke her up and told her the good news that her husband had finally returned and had taken revenge on the suitors by killing them all. Penelope didn't want to believe it. She thought Eurycleia was laughing at her. Eurycleia assured her mistress for a long time that Odysseus had indeed returned, that the wanderer with whom Penelope had talked for so long was Odysseus, that she recognized him by the scar on his leg, but he ordered even from Penelope to keep the news of his return a secret. Despite Eurycleia's beliefs, it seemed incredible to Penelope that Odysseus alone could have killed all the suitors. Finally, Penelope agreed to go to the banquet hall. When she arrived there, she could not immediately decide whether to throw herself into the arms of Odysseus or first question him to finally make sure that the wanderer was really her torment. Penelope sat down next to the wanderer. She began to stare at him intently - now it seemed to her that it was Odysseus, then she began to doubt again. Seeing her hesitation, Telemakh began to reproach her.

"Oh, beloved mother," Telemachus said, "do you really have a heart like a stone in your chest? Your husband has finally returned, and you're sitting there and not even saying a word. There is hardly another wife in the whole world who would meet her husband so unfriendly when he returned to her after a long separation.

"My son, you see that I cannot utter a single word out of excitement," Penelope answered Telemachus, "if the wanderer is really Odysseus, that is, Odysseus and I have such a secret, having discovered which, we will always recognize each other.

Odysseus smiled and said to Telemachus:

- My son! Don't worry Mother. By questioning me, she will be convinced that I am Odysseus. It's hard for her to recognize me in this rags.Now we need to decide how to keep the death of the suitors from the citizens of the city a secret for a while, so that a rebellion does not arise. After all, we killed the most noble young men, and their relatives will want to take revenge on us.

Odysseus commanded all the slaves and female slaves to start singing and dancing to the sounds of the kithara Femiya, so that everyone would think that a celebration was taking place in the palace. They immediately executed his order and, indeed, everyone passing by the palace thought that Penelope's wedding feast with one of the grooms was being held there. Odysseus, having washed himself and put on rich robes, entered the hall again and sat down opposite Penelope. Athena endowed him with divine beauty. Odysseus, in order to convince Penelope, decided to reveal to her a secret known only to the two of them. Having called Eurycleia, he ordered her to prepare a bed for herself, and Penelope said to Eurycleia:

- Well, prepare a bed for him, Eurycleia, but not in the bedchamber that Odysseus himself built. Pull out a rich bed from the bedchamber and prepare a bed on it.

- Oh, queen, - exclaimed Odysseus, - who can move the bed that I made myself? After all, you know that it is made of a huge olive stump that grew near the palace. I myself cut it down and surrounded it with a wall, made a bed out of a stump, then decorated it with gold and silver and ivory. But maybe, during my absence, someone sawed down a stump and moved the bed?

Now Penelope knew that Odysseus was before her. Only the two of them knew the secret of how the bed was arranged. Penelope sobbed, threw herself into the arms of Odysseus and gently began to kiss him. Weeping, Odysseus embraced his faithful wife, pressed her to his heart and covered her with kisses - like a swimmer who escaped from a storm, thrown ashore, kisses the earth. Odysseus and Penelope cried for a long time, hugging each other. The morning dawn would have caught them in this way, if the goddess Athena had not lengthened the nights and forbade the goddess of dawn, roseate Eos, to take off on it.

Odysseus and Penelope left the banquet hall and went to their bedchamber. Telemachus ordered the slaves and female slaves to stop singing and dancing, and the whole palace fell asleep. Only Odysseus and Penelope did not send. Odysseus told her about his adventures, and faithful Penelope listened to him eagerly. She also told her husband about everything that she had to endure from the suitors during his absence.