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Dolios in Odyssey 4 and 24: Penelope’s Plotting and Alternative Narratives of Odysseus’s νόστος


The abortive messages that Dolios almost but never conveys from Penelope to Laertes and from Laertes’ farm to Penelope in Books 4 and 24 of the Odyssey allude to alternative versions of Odysseus’s νόστος in which Odysseus returned to Ithaca with an armed band and expelled the suitors with the knowing collusion of Penelope and Laertes. By referencing these epichoric variants, Homer creates a narrative opening for his original audience to infer that Penelope and Laertes conspire to use the palace and Laertes’ farm as power centers from which to lead the insurrection against the suitors upon Odysseus’s return, while at the same time articulating norms of licit and illicit means of trickery through the divergent fates of Dolios and his “bad seed” offspring Melanthios and Melantho.

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