Odysseus disguised as a slave has met Eumaeus after his return to Ithaca. Odysseus then meets his son Telemachus to whom he reveals himself. Odysseus then makes his way to town in his disguise, he then continues to his palace. Odysseus is continually mocked and insulted by the suitors upon his arrival. A pig farmer who is friendly with the suitors also insults and threatens Odysseus, the pig farmer and Odysseus is goaded into a fight by the suitors. Odysseus beats the pig farmer with ease and leaves him outside the palace gate. Odysseus is congratulated by the “good” suitor Amphinomus and offered food and wine as his spoils. Odysseus offers Amphinomus council and warms him of an impending doom, Amphinomus is troubled by this however his fate is already sealed How effectively does Homer convey tension in this passage.
Homer uses a series of techniques to build suspense and drama in his scenes. Homer uses emotive words, literary techniques, divine intervention and a slow build up in his passages this combination of methods creates drama and suspense.
First of all, consider the individual words and the sentences Homer uses, he says that “Amphinomus went back through the halls with a heavy heart, shaking his head; for he was filled with a sense of foreboding and disaster” this passage creates a great deal of tension, it gives a clear image in the reader mind of just how Amphinomus is feeling whilst also creating a brooding sense of some significant series of events that are read to occur .The word “foreboding” is particularly effective in enhancing a feeling of impending darkness. Homer’s use of individual word also adds tension and mystery to the passage, he places words such as “detest” and “evil” into a normally restrained and considered Penelope, by placing such emotive word into Penelope’s language the tension is increased as the reader is not used to Penelope using such visceral language . Penelope’s change of language may signify a change of actions, further more Penelope also says “my heart moves my like never before” this adds to the possibility of recklessness to Penelope that was not previously expected.
Homer’s use of dramatic irony is used to good effect, Homer tells us of Amphinomus fate informing us of Athene’s plans for his death “for Athene had already marked him out to fall to a spear from Telemachus’s hand “ yet the reader is unsure of how it will come to happen, this ensures that the reader knows what is going to happen yet not being sure of when or how. Divine intervention is used on the passage with Athene playing a fairly important role. The use of a divinity offers both additional tension and uncertainty. As eluded to above Athene is in control of the events, she has planned Amphinomus’s death whilst it is also she who provokes Penelope to make the decision to confront the suitors. By putting the events in the hands of a goddess, the chances of something mysterious or unpredicted increase, therefore the reader is not entirely sure what to expect from the characters or the events to follow.
Finally the slow build up Homer uses in the passage gives an increased air of tension, this passage feels like it is building up to something, as mentioned earlier we know Amphinomus will dies, we know Penelope wishes to discuss something with the suitors; however we know the detail of neither of these things which no doubt increases the tension within the passage. It clear that Homer is in control of the entire narrative, this passage shows exactly how to build suspense with several techniques whilst maintaining total control of the text. The different techniques used by Homer ensure that the reader is kept guessing thus creating drama.
How well does Athene intervene in this passage? Is this typical of Athene? Athene features in the Odyssey from the beginning, her methods change throughout the poem yet her influence is fairly constant. She ensure that he plans are carried out, either directly or in directly in this passage her influence is strong; she is clearly orchestrating events to come, this is typical of the majority of her action in the entire text.
In this passage Athene plays two significant roles. Firstly the reader learns that the she has planned the death of the suitor Amphinomus “for Athene had already marked him out to fall to a spear from Telemachus’s hand “this gives in gives us an insight into Athene’s thinking, we are able to see that she clearly has decided what is going to happen without the input of mortals, Athene acts as the orchestrator when considering her plans. Secondly we see how she controls Penelope , Penelope says “my heart moves my like never before” this is an typical move by Athene, she indiscreetly places feels and thoughts into the mind of mortals to lead them to carry out tasks or undertakings she deems important, this is a very typical move by Athene.
Throughout the Odysseys Athene’s interactions with mortal is not very direct, she appears in dreams, thoughts or in the guise of a mortal (Odysseus and Telemachus interaction with her sometimes proving an exception). Telemachus’s first meeting with Athene she is in the guise of a foreign prince whilst she appears to Nausciaa in a dream and she takes the semblance of a young girl when helping Odysseus find the palace of Aknioos and Arete. This sort of interaction is typical , she is helping her hero’s to their goal without being too brash or obvious. One significant exception is Athene’s conversation with Odysseus after his arrival on Ithaca – the two speak to each other almost as equals showing each mutual respect and friendship
The reasoning behind Athene’s actions may be two fold, firstly a story where a god/dess who simply gives the protagonist what they desire isn’t particularly exciting. Secondly Athene’s actions may be due to the relationship the gods have with mortals and each other. Odysseus is hated by Poseidon , Athene’s uncle – if she were to openly assist Odysseus she runs the risk of enraging her uncle further. Instead Athene uses her cunning and intelligence to help Odysseus instead, she request’s Zeus’s help in assisting Odysseus whilst Poseidon is away in Ethiopia. This is typical of Athene throughout the Odyssey she acts discreetly and in-directly to ensure she gets the results she wants using her renowned intelligence and craft.