In Book 16, Odysseus finally returns home, but he is disguised as a beggar. He “…master into town resembling a poor old beggar, leaning upon a stick and dressed in dirty rags.” In this case, Odysseus prepares a plan and physically lowers his status in order to regain his position and to find out the events that happened while he was gone, as well as to discover those who could still be considered trustworthy.
Penelope supposes the poor beggar is Odysseus himself, so she creates an archery contest hoping that the only man who would ever be able to succeed is her long lost husband. Disguised as a beggar, Odysseus encounters the most arrogant suitor, Antinous. Antinous strikes Odysseus first, but Odysseus remains unfazed by his adversary’s actions. Instead of striking back, Odysseus stays in his original position and “just shook his head, silent, his mind churning with thoughts of bloody work.”
One by one, the suitors try and fail. The suitors are not even able to string the bow, let alone fire an arrow through the axes. Penelope’s ruse is working, and the game is going just as planned. Odysseus, disguised as a beggar, requested to try his hand. The suitors were opposed but Telemachus insisted he have his shot. To the astonishment of the suitors, and the unspoken satisfaction of Penelope, the beggar fired the arrow through the axes. 'And now Odysseus’ cunning was revealed. / He stripped off his rags and leapt with his bow / To the great threshold”.
Finally, Odysseus had “looked around him...for any others who had lain hidden...he saw that crowd had all fallen,” as stated in lines 1531-1538. Odysseus had killed all the suitors that had been associated with Antinous, and had made sure they were all killed and none hidden.
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