After twenty years of voyaging Ulysses returns to his homeland. The Phaeacians have left the ragged man at the shores of Ithaca where he laments his fate, wearied by his wanderings and the sufferings he has endured. Athena finally tells him where he is and informs him of the state of his kingdom. Numerous suitors have assembled in the palace, courting his wife Penelope, importunate freeloaders who plunder the coffers and outrage public morals, convinced that the king is dead and that it can only be a matter of time before Penelope takes one of them as her new spouse.
Disguised as a beggar, Ulysses sets out to restore himself to the throne. Endowed with powers of which no one would have believed an old man capable, he slays the intruders and reestablishes himself in his kingdom. After some hesitation, Penelope finally recognises her long-lost husband.
The return of Ulysses is a key scene of the European imagination from the beginning of our cultural history that has lost none of its symbolic importance and power down the ages. Botho Strauß has translated the plot of the Odyssey - the epic structuring of the different stages of Ulysses' journey, culminating in the return to the throne - into five dramatic tableaux which climax with the restoring of peace.