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`The suitors deserved their punishment' Using this passage as a starting point, explain how far
you agree with this statement. Consider both this passage and the rest of the proem. Book 4,
The suitors perform many acts that can be seen to justify their punishment and death. The first of
these is the planning of Telemachus' murder and all that accompanies this. As Antinous states
`there'll be a grim ending to this seatrip in search for his father', he gathers men to ambush
Odysseus' son. The implication of `ferocity' and horror that the suitors feel, when Telemachus sets
off without the men realising, suggests further their rash, cruel and unpredictable behaviour. This
plotting to kill the Kings son would therefore insinuate their deserved punishment and the death
they received. The treatment of Telemachus is present as they continually plot Odysseus' son's
death `the suitors were once again devising schemes for Telemachus' murder'. The Homeric
society's belief of good deeds being acknowledged and rewarded, and evil deeds deserving death,
again would imply the suitors are responsible for their own destruction. Their arrogant and prideful
behaviour toward Odysseus again contributes to the reason why they are going to die. Their
constant insults and violence towards the protagonist imply how they are deserving of death in
cases such as Antinous refusing to provide food for the beggar, Odysseus `What God has inflicted
this plague on us to spoil our dinner?' Therefore, the behaviour of the suitors, in their prideful
arrogance and disrespect contribute to the reasons why they deserve their death.
Their own treatment of Odysseus as a beggar would indicate the reasons as to why the men
deserve their punishments. As Ctesippus `laid his great hand on a cows hoof... and hurled it at him'
and as Eurymachus `seized a stool' and called Odysseus `a miserable creature', their own
arrogance and disrespect is shown. Their ability to accept and abuse Penelope's xenia but then not
to show it to another man displays evidence again of their incapability to abide by the immortals
laws, and their own selfseeking immoral ways. This could therefore exemplify why the suitors
deserve their death. Their own foolishness and responsibility can therefore be seen that the
downfall and death of these men can be sourced from their own insolent, arrogant and vulgar
behaviour. This is largely demonstrated in this passage alone as they mock Theoclymenus,
`laughing delightedly' and shouting `he is out of his mind'. This arrogance and pride that the suitors
have only create negative connotations to the audience, as they further despise the men and
accept their punishment of death that awaits.
Arguably, one of the most crucial sources and reasons for the death and destruction of the suitors
is their disrespectful behaviour towards the divine and ancient laws of xenia/hospitality. The
abusing of Penelope and Telemachus hospitality as they are `eating them out of their home'
suggests the vulgar, animal like characteristics these men behold, where they spend all their days
selfindulging in their own desires, once again insinuating their disgust, and reason why they are
set to die a graphic, violent death. The description as `their laughing faces took on a strained alien
look. Blood was splattered on their food' again, illustrates the revulsion that Homer creates
regarding the suitors. This disregard for the rules of xenia, therefore contribute to the reasons why
the suitors die.
This again can be supported by Athene's wishes for the men to die as they mock her in disguise as
Mentor through proposing to `kill him too' and as Athene helped Odysseus in battle through
`making the other men's arrows miss'. This help would imply the idea that the immortals also
believe that the suitors deserve their punishment.
As Odysseus states `you fleeced my household, raped my maids and courted my wide though I was
alive', the audience are brought directly to the attention of the suitors disgrace and awful ways.
Their sexual and verbal assaults of Odysseus' staff such as Eurycleia, and their own blasphemous
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Through this statement
by Odysseus, highlighting their inappropriate behaviour, the audience are brought to the attention
of their crimes, and side with Odysseus, through his heroic traits, and this therefore brings the
suitors to not be further sympathised for.
The suitors failure to pay head to the omens and their disrespectful attitude to the prophet are
substantial factors regarding their death, due to the significance of their crimes, their behaviour is
worthy of punishments by the Gods.…read more
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The idea that this man was given the same death as Antinous, could suggest that not all
of the suitors did deserve their punishment to certain degrees.
Overall, the reasons for why the suitors die are numerous and are sourced from varying degrees of
explanations, such as the Gods, their behaviour and rejection of laws. The final battle with this
fundamental themes of violence implies the insolence and utter disgrace of the suitors and their
deserving punishment.…read more