Synopsis Il ritorno di Ulisse in Patria
Penelope is longing for the return of her husband Ulisse, who went off to fight in the Trojan War twenty years ago and has been missing since the fall of Troy. Suitors for Penelope's hand have since moved into the royal palace of Ithaca, urging her to choose another husband from among them. Eurimaco is scheming on behalf of the suitors; he has an affair with Melanto, Penelope's maid. Urged by Eurimaco, Melanto agrees to try to persuade Penelope to forget about her sorrow and her long gone husband. A Phaeacian ship brings Ulisse to Ithaca and the Phaeacians lay him sleeping on the shore. Ulisse awakes and curses the Phaeacians for having left him in an unknown land. The goddess Minerva assures him that he is on Ithaca and tells him about the suitors in his palace. She commands him to return home and take possession of his palace again with her help. She disguises him as an old beggar for his own safety. Eumete, Ulisse's old herdsman, fails to recognize him and offers the old man shelter. Telamaco, the son of Penelope and Ulisse, has just come back from Sparta where he'd gone to find out what happened to his father. Eumete introduces Telemaco to the old man and when he is alone with his son, Ulisse reveals himself.
Eumete informs Penelope of Telemaco's return and the rumour that Ulisse may be coming home soon. The Proci overhear the conversation and they fear that Ulisse and Telemaco will want revenge. They decide to kill Telemaco but are prevented from carrying out their plan by a sign from Heaven. Ulisse, still disguised as an old man, has been ordered by Minerva to engage in a competition with the Proci and kill them with his bow. Iro challenges Ulisse to a duel and is defeated; the Proci decide to leave the old man in peace. Prompted by Minerva, Penelope sends for Ulisse's bow and arrows and promises to get married to whoever can draw the bow. Each suitor in turn fails and under Minerva's protection, Ulisse takes the bow and shoots the Proci. Iro now that all his patrons are dead, commits suicide immediately. Penelope refuses to believe Telemaco about the old man's identity. Minerva, Giunone and Giove implore Nettuno to forgive Ulisse so that his wanderings can finally come to an end and Nettuno allows himself to be placated.
Giove instructs Minerva to persuade the families of the murdered suitors from seeking revenge for their deaths by declaring war against Ithaca. When Ulisse appears in his proper form to Penelope, she is afraid to be the victim of a deception and doesn't dare to recognize him. Only when Ulisse describes their marital bed in such detail as only he can know, Penelope finally believes him.