Marks, J. 2008. Zeus in the Odyssey. Hellenic Studies Series 31. Washington, DC: Center for Hellenic Studies. http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:hul.ebook:CHS_Marks.Zeus_in_the_Odyssey.2008.
The End(s) of the Odyssey
The authenticity of Odyssey 24
Compensation or Revenge
From Revenge to Vendetta
τοὺς μὲν σὺν νήεσσιν ἄγων πολέας τε καὶ ἐσθλούς
ὤλεσε μὲν νῆας γλαφυράς, ἀπὸ δ᾿ ὤλεσε λαούς,
τοὺς δ᾿ ἐλθὼν ἔκτεινε Κεφαλλήνων ὄχ᾿ ἀρίστους.
ἀλλ᾿ ἄγετε, πρὶν τοῦτον ἢ ἐς Πύλον ὦκα ἱκέσθαι430
ἢ καὶ ἐς Ἤλιδα δῖαν, ὅθι κρατέουσιν Ἐπειοί,
ἴομεν· ἢ καὶ ἔπειτα καηφέες ἐσσόμεθ᾿ αἰεί.
λώβη γὰρ τάδε γ᾿ ἐστὶ καὶ ἐσσομένοισι πυθέσθαι,
εἰ δὴ μὴ παίδων τε κασιγνήτων τε φονῆας
τισόμεθ᾿· οὐκ ἂν ἔμοιγε μετὰ φρεσὶν ἡδὺ γένοιτο435
ζωέμεν, ἀλλὰ τάχιστα θανὼν φθιμένοισι μετείην.
ἀλλ᾿ ἴομεν, μὴ φθέωσι περαιωθέντες ἐκεῖνοι.
Friends, surely this man has devised an enormity against the Achaians:
some he led in ships, many and good men,
and he destroyed the hollow ships, and utterly destroyed the people.
And others he has come and killed, far the best of the Kephallenians.
But come, before this man makes his way quickly either to Pylos430
or even to godly Elis where the Epeioi rule,
let us go; or even later shamed we will be always.
For these things are an outrage, even for men to come to learn of,
if we do not seek vengeance from the killers of our sons and brothers;
as for me myself there would be no pleasure in my heart435
in living, but with a quick death would I join those who have perished.
But come, let us go, lest they get ahead of us making their escape.
Here the Odyssey at last confronts the problem that has from the start threatened to render the killing of the suitors a false climax to its hero’s story. Eupeithes asserts that the deaths of the suitors will occasion lōbē ‘[a sense of] outrage’ or ‘cause for reproach’ in future generations if their survivors do not exact tisis ‘payback’ (433-435). In doing so, he reveals the potential for the revenge-fantasy to degenerate into a self-perpetuating cycle of reciprocal violence, which is also to say its potential to spawn countless sequels. For the tisis-theme, at least in the Odyssey, is asserted to the exclusion of timē ‘recompense’ such as is offered by Eurymachos in the pursuit of a negotiated settlement. Odysseus has rejected the offer of timē out of hand in Book 22, and Eupeithes does not even mention the possibility in Book 24. In other words, just as Odysseus’ demand for tisis leaves the suitors no option but battle, so also Eupeithes’ demands suggest that that battle will be a fight to the death (435-436). Thus his first concern is to prevent Odysseus from fleeing to another city (430-431), an outcome that Odysseus himself entertains but rejects (23.118-120), though it does form the basis for a number of non-Homeric Odysseus-traditions, as discussed in Chapter 4.
The last Odyssean divine council
εἴ περ γὰρ κτείναιμι Διός τε σέθεν τε ἕκητι,
πῇ κεν ὑπεκπροφύγοιμι; τά σε φράζεσθαι ἄνωγα.
There is something still more important I am pondering in my mind:
for if I should actually do the killing, Zeus and yourself willing,
where and how  would I make my escape? I ask you to consider this.
Clearly, Odysseus fears reprisal if he proceeds as planned. Athene’s answer seems a little off-point:
ὅς περ θνητός τ᾿ ἐστὶ καὶ οὐ τόσα μήδεα οἶδεν·
αὐτὰρ ἐγὼ θεός εἰμι, διαμπερὲς ἥ σε φυλάσσω
ἐν πάντεσσι πόνοις. ἐρέω δέ τοι ἐξαναφανδόν·
εἴ περ πεντήκοντα λόχοι μερόπων ἀνθρώπων
νῶι περισταῖεν, κτεῖναι μεμαῶτες Ἄρηι,
καί κεν τῶν ἐλάσαιο βόας καὶ ἴφια μῆλα.
Harsh one, a person could trust in a worse companion,
one who is mortal and does not know as many stratagems;
but I myself am a god, who protects you all the way through
in all your toils. And I will tell you plainly:
even if fifty mortal men in ambush
should encircle we two, eager to kill us in combat,
even then would you drive off their cattle and fat sheep.
The goddess comforts the hero with a keen grasp of the obvious: with a divinity like her on his side, no mortal can stand before him. However, Odysseus expresses reservations, not about the outcome of the battle, but rather about the consequences of victory. He may very well by defeating the suitors earn the right to drive off their herds; but he will not be able to drive them far if he expects to remain in control of Ithake. The scenario Athene constructs is Iliadic, one befitting an invader of a foreign territory, rather than an isolated king at war with his own subjects. Athene in sum appears unable or unwilling to see beyond the revenge-fantasy, and before Odysseus can press her on the issue, she puts him to sleep (20.54).
εἰπέ μοι εἰρομένηι· τί νύ τοι νόος ἔνδοθι κεύθει;
ἢ προτέρω πόλεμόν τε κακὸν καὶ φύλοπιν αἰνὴν475
τεύξεις, ἦ φιλότητα μετ’ ἀμφοτέροισι τίθησθα;”
τὴν δ’ ἀπαμειβόμενος προσέφη νεφεληγερέτα Ζεύς·
“τέκνον ἐμόν, τί με ταῦτα διείρεαι ἠδὲ μεταλλᾶις;
οὐ γὰρ δὴ τοῦτον μὲν ἐβούλευσας νόον αὐτή,
ὡς ἤτοι κείνους Ὀδυσεὺς ἀποτίσεται ἐλθών;480
“Our father, son of Kronos, utmost of the powerful,
tell to me who asks: what idea does your mind now hide?
Will you establish further war and evil and awful battle-noise,475
or will you cause mutual attachment between both sides?”
And her did cloud-gathering Zeus address in answer:
“My child, why do you ask and enquire of me about this?
For was this not the idea you yourself planned,
that Odysseus would come and exact tisis from those men?”480
ἐπεὶ δὴ μνηστῆρας ἐτίσατο δῖος Ὀδυσσεύς,
ὅρκια πιστὰ ταμόντες ὃ μὲν βασιλευέτω αἰεί,
ἡμεῖς δ’ αὖ παίδων τε κασιγνήτων τε φόνοιο
ἔκλησιν θέωμεν· τοὶ δ’ ἀλλήλους φιλεόντων485
ὡς τὸ πάρος, πλοῦτος δὲ καὶ εἰρήνη ἅλις ἔστω.”
Do as you wish; but I will tell you what seems fittingto me.
Since Odysseus has obtained tisis from the suitors,
let them swear oaths, and let him be king always;
and let us ourselves, as regards the killing of childrenand brethren,
impose forgetfulness; and let them love one another485
as before. And let there be prosperity and peace in abundance.
A last, decisive death
ὥς κεν ἀναιμωτί γε διακρινθῆτε τάχιστα.
Hold back from harsh war, Ithakans,
so that bloodlessly you may be separated forthwith.
Her epiphany fills the Ithakans with terror; they drop their weapons and turn to flee (533-536).
Chapter conclusions: the End(s) of the Odyssey