Ithaca: Homeric Parallel

In Book 17 of The Odyssey, Telemachus and Odysseus go their separate ways to Odysseus's palace. Odysseus is still in disguise as a beggar down on his luck. In Books 17-20 Odysseus -- having entered his house "by a stratagem," as Bloom does (Ulysses 17.84) -- plots to kill the suitors. The state of his house "corrugates" his brow -- as Bloom's brow is corrugated (Ulysses 17.322). Antinous, one of the chief suitors, is irritated by Odysseus and throws a stool at him (Book 17) — as Bloom runs into his displaced (by whom?) furniture (17.1274-78). On the morning of slaughter-day the suitors compete to see who can string Odysseus's great bow, but none can; the disguised Odysseus finally strings it with extraordinary ease, and Zeus reassures him with a thunderclap out of a cloudless sky (Book 2l) -- as the liturgical review of Bloom's day is rewarded by a "loud lone crack emitted by the insentient material of a strainveined timber table" (Ulysses 17.2061-62). Odysseus and Telemachus pen the suitors in the great hall of the palace — as Stephen helps lock the door (Ulysses 17.119). The slaughter of the suitors begins (Book 22) after Odysseus has strung the bow, and Antinous (the part Buck Mulligan is playing) is the first to be killed -- as Bloom has already disposed of Mulligan (Ulysses 16.279-99). The second of the suitors to be killed is Eurymachus (Boylan's part), whom Athena has identified (Book 15) as the suitor on the verge of success because favored by Penelope's father and brothers. At the height of the killing in Book 22, the aegis of Athena shines under the roof of the hall, terrifying the suitors -- as, at 17.1210, a "celestial sign" appears. The lives of the poet and the herald are spared. When the killing is over, Telemachus is sent on an errand and Odysseus fumigates his house -- as Bloom does (Ulysses 17.1321-29).

Penelope has slept through and is unaware of the slaughter. Odysseus's approach to Penelope is extraordinarily circumspect, not only remain when he is in disguise and wants to remain unknown to her (Book 19) but also when he reveals himself to her in Book 23. She in her turn is painfully slow to accept the ragged, blood- begrimed "beggar" as her husband.

(from Don Gifford with Robert J. Seidman, "Ulysses" Annotated: Notes for James Joyce's "Ulysses" [Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988], p. 566. The first numbers following quotes from The Odyssey [for example, 1:115] refer to book and line numbers in the Greek text; English translations, unless otherwise noted, are from The Odyssey, translated by Robert Fitzgerald [New York: Doubleday, 1961])