Page 303. " when a man kills someone, even someone who has no friends at all to avenge him, he still goes into exile "

Homeric society does not seem to have any specific laws or legal authority figures for dealing with crimes such as murder. Instead, it was the responsibility of the injured party or his family, or the local community, to respond to the crime as they saw fit. Odysseus must now worry how the relatives of the dead Suitors will react.

Page 307. " Lampus and Phaethon, the colts that draw the chariot of Day. "
Helios wearing his sun-ray crown, Roman bronze statuette 2nd-3rd century AD
Public DomainHelios wearing his sun-ray crown, Roman bronze statuette 2nd-3rd century AD - Credit: Marie-Lan Nguyen/Wikimedia Commons
Helios rising in his horse-drawn chariot, black-figure lekythos, ca.500 BC
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeHelios rising in his horse-drawn chariot, black-figure lekythos, ca.500 BC - Credit: Claire H/Wikimedia Commons

According to Greek mythology, the sun god Helios drove the chariot of the sun across the sky each day.

Page 308. " And blissfully they lay down on their own familiar bed "

Some scholars have maintained that this is actually the last line of the Odyssey, pointing to ‘un-Homeric’ language and inconsistencies in the story as proof. Others disagree, claiming that the writing is typical of Homer’s style, and that several themes still need to be rounded off – what happens when the town learns of the slaughter; what of the Suitors’ relatives; and what of Laertes, Odysseus’ poor grieving father?

Page 311. " And now Cyllenian Hermes began to summon the souls of the Suitors "

Hermes in his role as Psychopomp, white-ground lekythos, ca.450 BC
Public DomainHermes in his role as Psychopomp, white-ground lekythos, ca.450 BC - Credit: Bibi Saint-Pol/Wikimedia Commons
Here, Hermes is acting in his role of psychopomp – the guide of the dead. He collects newly deceased spirits and escorts them to the Underworld, where they are then integrated into the land of the dead. Hermes can be seen on white-ground lekythoi (vases used to pour oil during funeral rites) performing this function.

Page 312. " shedding hot tears and cutting their hair "

Cutting hair was a sign of mourning amongst the ancient Greeks.

Page 312. " Your mother, when she heard the tidings, came up from the sea with the immortal Sea-Nymphs "

Thetis gives her son Achilles his shield forged by Hephaestus, detail of a black-figure hydria, ca.575 BC–50 BC
Public DomainThetis gives her son Achilles his shield forged by Hephaestus, detail of a black-figure hydria, ca.575 BC–50 BC - Credit: Marie-Lan Nguyen/Wikimedia Commons
Achilles’ mother was Thetis, a sea-nymph who was given in marriage to the mortal man Peleus, rather than to another god, after a prophecy claimed that her son would be greater than his father.

Page 314. " It was a full month before we completed our voyage over the wide sea, so hard was it to win over Odysseus "

When the ships came to bring Odysseus to Troy, Odysseus was ready for them. Not wanting to leave his beloved Ithaca and his family, he pretended to be mad. He yoked together two different animals in the plough, and proceeded to sow his fields with salt (which would prevent crops from growing). His ruse was foiled by the clever Palamedes, who threatened his baby son Telemachus. Odysseus leapt up to save him, proving his sanity.

Page 318. " Groaning heavily, he picked the black dust up in both his hands and poured it over his grey head. "

This was another symbol of mourning in ancient Greece.