Word soon travelled around that Odysseus had returned and somehow managed to trap all of the suitors within the castle walls. The young men tried to undo or burst the secured latch to no avail. When they began to realise that they were trapped, they fell to fighting amongst themselves, a few killing one another. A couple of days later they were so hungry that they finally found a way to send word of their predicament.
A grey-eyed Mentor called the townspeople to council. At the assembly grounds he stood before the Akhaians with speaking staff in hand. "Good people of Ithaka, today should be a day of rejoicing. Our sovereign Odysseus has returned. We should be honouring her heroism and celebrating the prestige she has brought this island. Instead she stays with her father ignored and forgotten by all except those over-ambitious young men who sought to take her throne dishonestly or by violence, and are currently trapped within the very walls they wished to take."
Halitherses spoke up, "I told you all that Odysseus would return and I said that those so called suitors would rue the day they thought to take power. They should have heeded my words."
"Quite so, my dear friend," continued Mentor, "The question is, what should we do now?"
"I say that we take up spears and go after that scoundrel Odysseus," said Eupeithes, the father of Antinoos who was amongst those suitors who had killed one another, "Her actions have brought about the deaths of the flower of Ithaka. If she is allowed to live we shall be disgraced forever. I could hardly go on with my life," he said in tears, "Without my beloved son by my side."
"So you say Odysseus is responsible for those men choosing to fight amongst themselves first, rather than calling for help?" asked Mentor, "Eupeithes, we understand your grief, but not your conclusions."
Unfortunately, the families of many of those men also called for arms before Odysseus might escape to Pylos or elsewhere. Their din rose so loud that others could not have their objections heard. Hands were finding the handles of swords, though no blades were pulled yet.
"Cease!" cried the voice of Mentor. The syllable, though not so loud, rang with unassailable command. A golden ripple of silence followed its sound. The crowd turned to the figure of Mentor who had somehow grown and become radiant. "Odysseus and indeed the deities could have taken the lives of your children, but we chose not to do so. I tell you this day that the suitors are to be forever banned from Ithaka and that all Akhaians are to make peace with one other. Go now, make offerings and celebrate. Value the life you have all been given."
In a flash the being that had been before them disappeared. The time had come for Ithaka to renew itself in good comradeship.
Copyright © 1998 Katherine Phelps