Why did Odysseus Kill the Suitors: the Moral Dilemma of Odysseus

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Updated: Aug 21, 2023
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In the story, The Odyssey by Homer. The great Odysseus is a powerful and noble leader. He is very smart and uses his bold perception to escape from many dangerous and difficult situations. He is also a persuasive speaker, and he can convince anyone he is talking to about what he wants. He is a strong-willed man, and now that he has returned from a dangerous 20-year journey, he wants to be happy with his wife. The suitors were in Odysseus’ kingdom for about ten years, eating his food, drinking his wine, killing his cattle, and, most importantly, urging Queen Penelope to marry them.

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Odysseus’ Character and Motivation

The head suitor, Antinous, is an arrogant man who bothers Penelope. Odysseus and his maids were expected to entertain the suitors, but they abandoned the rules and went disproportionate. This is brutal for the suitors because they have to eat, drink, rest, and explain who they are and why they are there. Odysseus had many alternatives to killing the suitors. Odysseus killed not only his suitors but also some of Penelope’s maids. Odysseus should have found another punishment, such as paying for everything his suitors consumed and the death of Odysseus’ dog. But the only thing Odysseus cared about was the satisfaction of killing the suitors. “ Penelope on the higher level of her room had heard the blow and knew who gave it…” (page 1099, paragraph 3, lines 1264-1266).

Odysseus had no right to massacre the suitors. What Odysseus did was a violent act because, in his mind, Odysseus planned this arrogance long in advance. Odysseus also uses the fact that they were disrespectful to him as an excuse to kill 108 suitors. “Odysseus, who had endured the long war and the sea, answered: I’ll tell you now. Suppose Athena’s arm is over us, and Zeus her father’s, must I rack my brains for more?” ( page 1094, paragraph 2, lines 1108-1111). He was so furious because he was a king, and the suitors were claiming his possessions. Also, Telemachus did not have to join; he still instead chose to side with his father and help him kill all the suitors. Odysseus was so blinded by coldness and death that he did not realize what he was doing. The suitors harmed Penelope, which really enraged Odysseus.


In my opinion, instead of killing the suitor outright, there were many alternative ways it could have been done. As seen at the end of the Odyssey, without Athena, Ithaca would have become a battlefield; Odyssey probably would not have won. It would have been more understandable if the decision had been made in the heat of battle, but he considered his decision before carrying out his plans and suitors. Odysseus should have punished them with imprisonment, hard labor, or payment for everything they broke, ate, and drank. All Odysseus received was the satisfaction of murdering all the suitors and almost a war on Ithaca. No other benefit to his actions. Therefore, Odysseus was rash in his decision to massacre the suitors.


  1. “The Odyssey” by Homer


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Why Did Odysseus Kill the Suitors: The Moral Dilemma of Odysseus. (2023, Aug 20). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/why-did-odysseus-kill-the-suitors-the-moral-dilemma-of-odysseus/