Poseidon and Odysseus are the most noticeable representatives of the theme of vengeance in The Odyssey
. In order to escape from the cave of the Cyclops (Polyphemus), Odysseus blinds the one-eyed giant. Unfortunately, the Cyclops is the sea god Poseidon's son; Odysseus has enraged a formidable enemy. Poseidon can't kill Odysseus because the Fates have determined that he will make it home. However, the sea god can help to fulfill his son's wish that Odysseus should arrive in Ithaca late, broken, and alone, his shipmates lost, and his household in turmoil. In one of the more controversial sections of the epic, Poseidon takes his frustration out on the Phaeacians, whose only offense is following their tradition of hospitality by sailing Odysseus home.
Odysseus's vengeance is formidable when it is directed toward the suitors and his disloyal servants. He demonstrates impressive tolerance as he endures, in disguise, the insults and assaults of the suitor Antinous, the goatherd Melanthius, and the maidservant Melantho, for example. Each will die a gruesome death. In a surprise attack, Odysseus first kills the suitors' leader, Antinous, with an arrow through the throat; he then kills smooth-talking Eurymachus, the other leading suitor, with an arrow in the liver. Melanthius and Melantho die more slowly after the slaughter of the suitors. Odysseus is avenging the suitors' lack of respect for and the servants' lack of loyalty to his office, his property, and his family.