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Odysseus of the Odyssey
Twenty years of being away brought a great change to the appearance of Odysseus. His many battles had aged him greatly and his once royal attire as the King of Ithaca were now rags and he was dirty and ragged-looking in appearance. When he reached his house, he found his way besieged a group of suitors that had plagued to marry them as surely she must be a widow as her husband had been absent twenty years. Odysseus discovered that Penelope had retained her faithfulness through all of those years but time had worn away at her deep love for Odysseus.
The suitors were amused that this ragged and dirty old man should add himself to their ranks. They scoffed him and mocked him while he quietly held his anger inside as he surveyed the disarray of his entire once prosperous and wealthy home. The property was still intact but there was so much chaos caused by the suitors who given themselves full access to his house and wife or actually her maids as Penelope had maintained her fidelity to Odysseus.
The Mentor encouraged Penelope to put an end to her strife by setting a task for her hand by declaring that the one who could string and shoot her husband’s scared bow would be the one who would receive her hand in marriage and all of the worldly profit with it. Penelope knew that no one in the world could string and shoot the bow and arrow except Odysseus himself and since she believed that Odysseus was dead, and then she knew that no one would accomplish the feat and the greedy suitors would leave her be. All of the suitors failed except the disheveled newcomer. He strung the bow with great ease and then proceeded to slay his competition one by one. At the end, he was the only one left standing and he had honorably won the hand of Penelope. She fled the scene weeping and in great despair since she did not realize that it was her husband that had won her hand and no one else. It was only through the convincing of her trusted maid and her son who knew his father that she was at last able to recognize Odysseus. She then rejoiced and in time, the long awaited consolation of being bedded by her true husband was accomplished. It had helped that Odysseus had used some memories known only to the two of them to convince Penelope as well.
Once Odysseus had rested and cleaned himself, he set out to put his house and kingdom in order. He either killed or banished all of the people that had also lost their allegiance to him. After the scenes of bloodshed were cleaned and the traitorous people had been sent from his house, he was much pleased with himself and his family but he also longed to see his father, Laertres, where the old man resided at a farm in the mountains. He and his son, Telemachus made the journey together, accompanied by a few loyal men.
Odysseus found the farm to also be governed by disloyal subjects and his father, Laertes, once a majestic and strong king, now laboring in his garden, that he loved, but he was bedraggled and appeared to have aged far more than the last twenty years should have done so. Lartes and Odysseus had a few moments to speak with each other before Odysseus was able to convince the old man that he, himself, was truly his son, Odysseus.
They had just reconciled when the farm was attacked by other men who were enemies of Odysseus. Even Laertes, in his aged condition, was able to help his son and grandson to slew the lot. It brought the peace that Odysseus so longed for. He had shown his family and his people that he was still their king despite his lengthy travels.
Reference: Homers Odyssey. Written in 800BC.