In accordance with the Olympian plan, Pallas takes her flight down to Ithaca, after binding on her winged sandals and seizing her mighty spear; thus she humanizes herself to the Greek plastic sense, and assumes finite form, adopting the shape of a stranger, Mentes, King of the Taphians. She finds a world full of wrong; violence and disorder rule in the house of the absent Ulysses; it is indeed high time for the Gods to come down from lofty Olympus and bring peace and right into the course of things. Let the divine image now be stamped upon terrestrial affairs, and bring harmony out of strife. Still, it must not be forgotten that the work has to be done through man's own activity.
The conflict which unfolds before our eyes in a series of clear-drawn classic pictures, lies between the House of Ulysses on the one hand and the Suitors of Penelope on the other. He who is the head of the Family and the ruler of State, Ulysses, has been absent for twenty years; godless men have taken advantage of the youth of his son, and are consuming his substance wantonly; they also are wooing his wife who has only her cunning wherewith to help herself. The son and wife are now to be brought before us in their struggle with their bitter lot. Thus we note the two main divisions in the structure of the present Book: The House of Ulysses and the Suitors.
The Goddess Pallas has already come down to Ithaca and stands among the suitors. She has taken the form of Mentes, the King of a neighboring tribe; she is in disguise as she usually is when she appears on earth. Who will recognize her? Not the suitors; they can see no God in their condition, least of all, the Goddess of Wisdom. "Telemachus was much the first to observe her;" why just he? The fact is he was ready to see her, and not only to see her, but to hear what she had to say. "For he sat among the suitors grieved in heart, seeing his father in his mind's eye," like Hamlet just before the latter saw the ghost. So careful is the poet to prepare both sides—the divine epiphany, and the mortal who is to behold it.