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The Odyssey: Study Guide
Includes Answers to all the Questions
Back up page (in case the original one cannot be located)
Most complete study guide (Author unknown)
“Tell me, Muse, of that man, so ready at need, who
wandered far and wide, after he had sacked the sacred
citadel of Troy, and many were the men whose towns he
saw and whose mind he learnt, yea, and many the woes
he suffered in his heart upon the deep, striving to
win his own life and the return of his company.”
--from the translation and introduction by
S. H. Buthcher and Andrew Lang of The Odyssey
published by Airmont Publishing Company
---and so begins one of the most well-known tales ever
told; it is the tale of Odysseus, the warrior, returning
home from the Trojan War. Homer in the
above lines is calling upon the Muse of Olympus to
inspire him to write a great work. The Odyssey is
the work of a genius; it is unique; it should be
required reading in every high school.. I recommend
the above translation to anyone. (The one recommended
by the creators of the Think Quest Site and an excellent
high school English teacher, Mrs. McCoy of McDowell
High School in Erie, PA highly suggest is the one translated
by Mr. Robert Fagles)
(Anything in this booklet can be reproduced ONLY for classroom use.) Teacher’s Silent
Helper, Box 128, Dixon, NE. 68732
LECTURE ON THE POET HOMER
Very little is known about the poet Homer.
Tradition places his birthplace on the Greek coast of Asia Minor.
The story of his blindness comes from a little hymn written by one of his imitators; it is
signed with the phrase “a blind man living in Rocky Chior.” All we know of him in
inference because even the classical Greeks knew nothing of certainty concerning him,
scarcely even the century in which he lived.
One thing we know for certain; he was a professional poet. In Chapters I and VIII of the
Odyssey, he describes his predecessors as signing songs about the Trojan expedition.
They appear to be short ballads from a long collection which seems to cover the entire
conflict. We know from his allusions in the Iliad and the Odyssey that he was learned
about a large number of myths and he expected his audience to be acquainted with his
main stories and many of the characters.
However, he was not a contemporary of his heroes and heroines. Homer speaks of them
as living long before his time, among a physically stronger breed and race of men. At
times he appears a bit confused about the small details of their life, their armor, and the
geography of that long ago world.
Much of Homer’s style and language does not appear to be all his own creation. Many
phrases which recur frequently such as “spoke winged words” and Achilles’ “fleet of
foot”, were built to fit the epic meter and style; they were used by other poets as well as
Homer. So Homer inherited a vast array of poetic words, phrases, descriptions, images,
and devices in style.
Homer did not invent all the stories he tells; he was not the first to turn them into poetry.
He had a vast treasure from which to draw. However, there is no doubt that beneath
these two great poems, the Iliad and the Odyssey, are two GREAT master plans, two
unities which are greater and more comprehensive than any other poems ever written in
Homer was a poet.
He lived several hundred years after the Trojan War (its traditional date is 1194-1184
B.C.E. (Before the Common Era))
He was a man trained in the traditions of myth and history and in the poetic techniques;
these traditions had been handed down continuously since the Trojan War - maybe even
Homer’s genius is that he built from these myths two great, vast poems which were bolder
with a more skillful structure. He gave the characters a subtler and more memorable
character drawing, a stronger moral purpose, a more alive quality than any of his
predecessors. His style is sublime.
Homer wrote for an aristocratic audience who disliked the new Dorian newcomers.
Smyrna, an old city on the coast of Greek Asia, may have been where Homer lived.
Homer lived sometime between 900 and 700 B.C.E. So we put his date at 800 B.C.E.
Most all Greeks felt that Homer was the author of both poems. The two poems were the
earliest achievements of the Greek genius, Homer.
*THE WORLD OF THE ILIAD AND THE ODYSSEY Read for time period background
*Iliad means “the poem about Ilios,” and Ilios was one of the names given to the old
Asiatic city of Troy. n Another word is Ilium.
*Odyssey means “the poem about Odysseus,” and Odysseus was one of the Greek princes
from the Greek island of Ithaca who helped capture Troy.
*WHAT IS THAT WORLD LIKE?
It is a time of chaos; war and violence seem to be everywhere. Communications are
difficult; pirates, savages, monsters seems to pressing upon this small world. Peace and
law are known as ideals; however, they are practiced only within narrow limits.
They believe in an array of gods who rule from Olympus; these gods appear to be angry,
incalculable and violent gods who quarrel among themselves and with the men on earth.
Races and nations are on the march; forces emerge and struggle for mastery. We have had
other periods which resemble this in the history of the world: the time of the Vikings, the
Crusades, Spanish conquest of America. Are there any virtues? Yes, cunning, brute
strength, and courage.
*It is the bronze age. Weapons are made of this metal. In the Odyssey we hear about
steel and iron; they are mentioned as though they had just recently been discovered. They
are not in wide use. So the time has to be around 1000 B.C. E when men of this world
were just beginning to use iron tools and weapons often.
The world these men know is small: mainland Greece, western coast of Asia Minor,
Crete, Cyprus, Phoenicia, Egypt, Greek islands. Further knowledge of this world merges
reality with fantasy as Odysseus visits the land of the Lotus-eaters who live on the
peaceful African coast, the perilous shores of south Italy with the sea monster Scylla and
the whirlpool Charybdis, trace of Sicily with its cave-dwelling giants hints of northern
lands and of course the never-ending Ocean rolls around the world.
In this world there are “NO” Greeks. There is only a strong tribe living in southern
Greece; it is able to draw in allies from elsewhere, and it is known as the Achaens,
Argives, or Danaans. There are no national boundaries to this society, only strong cities
or tribes. Each of these small ruling tribes or cities has a king, a number of princes, and
council or the men of his town or city. The strongest cities are Mycenae and Argos. This
tribe of Achaeans with contingents from Thessaly in the northeast, from Ithaca in the
northwest, from Crete in the southeast, is besieging Troy. Where is Troy? It is a single
city in the northwestern part of Asia Minor near the Dardanells; it is an ancient city, rich
In Troy some of its princes have Greek names and live by Greek customs. It has a king
called Priam; he is an oriental sultan with a harem. He is defending his kingdom with the
help of allies brought in from elsewhere in Asia.
This is a war between Orientals and Europeans but soldiers of both sides understand each
other’s language, use same weapons, and fight in the same way. There is little trace of
racial enmity in the story.
Why the Trojan War began--
*The war began because Paris abducted Helen, wife of Menelaus or Sparta. Paris, a
prince of Troy, carried her to Troy. King Menelaus called upon his brother Agamemnon,
King of Argos, and other petty chieftains of the Achaeans to gather together and help him
get Helen back. So 1000 ships filled with Achaeans sailed for Troy and began a ten-year
war. They find they cannot take the city; its walls are too strong. The men know nothing
of siege engineering and cannot organize a blockage so that the Trojans can be starved
out. The war itself is being fought by trials of strength between the armies.
It is a strange operation. In battle, everything depends on the chiefs; the main body of the
army is there only to support those chiefs. A single hero who possesses extreme dexterity,
powerful will and terrifying strength can often turn the he whole tide of war; he can
become completely irresistible until he is killed. They do not fight continually; it seems to
be a series of duels between rival chiefs and assertions of individual heroism can carry an
entire charge along with them. This is an aristocratic war where chiefs lead their clans to
war and are the bravest of the brave. A war like this needs courage and cunning----but
chiefly physical courage.
The world outside this war is shown here and there when the soldiers wander from battle
into the lands away from Troy or when they finally return home after the fall of Troy. We
find that strangers are suspect and dangerous; they meet either a treacherous welcome or a
desperate resistance. One chief is shipwrecked on the way home, another is murdered by
his wife and lover, another exiled by usurpers. The clever Odysseus himself sacks the city
of Ismareus before turning for home and when he arrives at Ithaca, he finds his palace
filled with a mob or unruly young men competing to marry his wife so that one of them
can be king of Ithaca. Yes, in this world, law exists in heaven, but on earth law is in the
hands of the strongest. Other civilizations writing at this mention the Achaeans as
dangerous invaders attacking those rich, and established older kingdoms.
“There was a Troy, a city often destroyed and often rebuilt in the same powerful position
commanding the Dardanelles. There was a city at Mycenae, very wealthy and strong; the
huge roof of its treasury was greater than any vault built in Europe for fifteen hundred
years there-after. The Achaeans, it seems, were a group of northern tribes who invaded
and occupied Greece some time after 2000 B.C.E., expanded until they conquered its
former rulers, the Cretan sea kings, attacked the powers of Asia Minor and Egypt, and
then fell back victorious but exhausted from their conquest of Troy. Then, a generation or
two later, Greece was overrun by new conquerors, the rough Dorians, ancestors of the
Spartans. Greece was then plunged into a Dark Age full of dividion strife and poverty.
Only after that did the classical Greece we know (time of Pericles) come to birth”
*However, the people of this Achaean Homeric world are not prehistoric savages. There
are Helen of Troy, “the beautiful woman whom all woman hate, and all men, even against
their will, admire; her lover, the vain handsome, cowardly Paris; the short,
broad-shouldered, wily, clever Odysseus, and his young son Telemachus, gallant but
inexperienced and shy; garrulous old Nestor; Agamemnon, king of men, tall and pompous;
Hector, the pessimistic patriot; and his enemy, the doomed hero, young Achilles, racing
toward his own death like a meteor leaving a fiery track down the sky--all of these and
many more are men and women like all of us, like the best and worst of us. It is because
they are universal human beings that the Iliad and the Odyssey have been read constantly,
through so many changes of civilization, for more than two thousand years. Homer is as
great as Shakespeare, and there has been none greater.
*WHAT ARE THE GODS OF OLYMPUS LIKE?
They interfere, guide or mislead heroes, quarrel among themselves about the outcome of
the Trojan War, try to delay ro change the fated future; one god will help a hero while
another will persecute him; the gods fight, make love, cheat, adn behave generally worse
than the men and women they are supposed to rule and inspire.
*However, look at these gods closely. When they do intervene in the great tales, they
usually represent the following: an ability, an emotion, cool reason, sexual charm, a
natural but super-human force such as storm or plague, or the irresistible power of fate
which uses every force at its command to defeat the losing side. When the gods debate,
bicker, compete, and quarrel among themselfves, they seem to represent incidental music
tot he human struggles on earth. The gods seem to have always been a part of these long
ago myths that went into the making of the Iliad and the Odyssey. However, remember
this, that when these two great poems were finally written down, it made the gods less
noble and less important.
**These two classic poems, the Iliad and the Odyssey, are the oldest complete books in
the Western World. What they tell us about is of a time back beyong the beginning of
recorded history. They are over three thousand years old - and probably the stories
themselves (some of them) much much older. The poems do not ell the entire sotry but
they do show us the essentials; the rest is left to our imagination.
The material for the above information was taken from "The World of the Iliad and the Odyssey" as written by the renowned Gilbert Highet. Some of the information was taken from The Life of Greece written by Will Durant, Simon and Schuster, New York, 1966.
Much of my interpretation of these two great poems has been learned from the writings of these two great men.
MY DISCUSSION OF QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ON EACH CHAPTER is from Homer, The Odyssey, translation and introduction by S. H. Butcher adn Andrew Lang, published by the Airmon Publishing Company. Any quotations in the questions and answers are taken from this translation. I recommend this translation most highly when teaching high school students.
I have always taped the first five chapters of this book and then played them to the class while they follow in their books. This takes five days. Disucss each chapter with them as they finish reading it. This enables them to become familiar with the vocabulary. After this, they are ready to read it on their own.
learn both Roman and Greek name
THE GODS OF GREECE
I. The Elder Gods
A. The Titans
(They were of enormous sixe and incredible strength, but they ewrwe human in
1. Cronus - in Latin, Saturn; wife is Rhea - in Latin -Ops
Ruler of all the Titants
FAther of Zeus; Zeus overthrew his fater Cronus
2. Ocean - river that circled the earth
3. Tethys - wife of Ocean
4. Hyperion - father of the sun, the moon, and the dawn
5. Helios- God of the sun; son of Hyperion
6. Mnemosyne - means memory
7. Themis - translated as meaning Justice
8. Iapetus - important because of his sons; his sons are
a. Atlas - bore the world on his shoulders
b. Prometheus - savior of mankind; name means Forethought
c. Epimetheus - means Afterthought
II. The Twelve Great Olympians (Succceded the Titans)
A. Zeus (Jupiter) God of all gods Supreme ruler - Lord of the sky, the raincloud, Cloud- gatherer He was not omnipotent; He could be opposed and deceived; Husband of Hera Breastplate is the aegis. Bird is the eagle. Tree is the oak.
B. Poseidon (Neptune) God of the Sea
Zeus' brother and second only to Zeus in power
Wife was Amphitrite, granddaughter of Ocean
He gave the first horse to man
Carried the trident - three pronged spear
Called the Earth-shaker
C. Hades (Pluto) Gsd of Hades (the Underworld)
God of the wealth of precious metals hidden in the earth
He was unpitying , inexorable, but just; a terrible but not an evil god.
Wife was Persephone - Goddess of the Spring and daughter of Demeter, goddess of the Harvest Hades ruled over the dead.
He is not death itself.
D. Hastia (Uesta) Goddess of the Hearth - symbol of the home
Each newborn child must be carried before the hearth and around the hearth before it could be received into the family
Zeus' sister - Every meal began and ended with an offering to her
Each city had a public hearth sacred to Hestia where the fire was never allowed to go out In Rome her fire was cared for by six virgin priestesses, called Vestals.
E. Hera (Juno) Wife of Zeus - also his sister
Protector of marriage and married women were her particular care
Titans Ocean and Tethys brought her up
Very little that is attractive in her
In only one story - "Quest of theGolden Fleece" is she a
protector of heroes.
Ilithyia (Eileithyea) her daughter helped women in childbirth
Her animal is the cow. Her bird is the peacock; it is sacred to her.
F. Ares (Mars) God of War
Son of Zeus and Hera; both of whom Homer said detested him
His bird - the vulture
His animal - the dog was wronged by being given to him
Homer calls him bloodstained, murderous, the curse of mortals
He sas a coward, too, for he bellows and runs away when he is wounded
No cities worshipped him. He came from Thrace, home of a rude fierce people in the northeast of Greece.
His sister was Eris - Goddess of Discord; Strife is Discord's son.
G. Athena (Minerva) Goddess of Wisdom, Reason, Purity; Goddess of
Pallas Athena Goddess of the City and Civilization and Handicraft
In early myths she is a battle-goddess
The inventor of the bridle; she first tamed horses for men to use
She was Zeus' favorite child; she sprang full grown from his head
(this means that she was intellecutal; she used her brain)
Words most often used to describe her are "gray-eyed" or
Earliest account of her is in teh "Iliad" where she is a fierce and
ruthless battle-goddess, but otherwise she was one of the best
Her temple is the Parthenon on the Acropolis in Athens
Athens was her special city; olive is her tree; the owl is her bird.
H. Phoebus Apollo - God of Light and Truth (light into men¹s minds; not sun)
Phoebus means brilliant, shining
He was the Archer God; also the Healer
He was the son of Zeus and Leto (Latona); he was born on the island of
HE IS CALLED MOST GREEK OF ALL THE GODS; in other words, Greeks admired Apollo the most of all the gods
ORACLE was at Delphi; the center of the universe
He was the master musician - delighted Olympus with his playing of his
Lord of the silver bow- first taught men the healing arts.
I. Aphrodite (Venus) Goddess of Love and beauty
She beguiled all. Daughter of Zeus and Dione in "Iliad"; later poems
say she sprang from the foam of the sea. Aphros is foam in Greek.
Wife of Hephaestus (Vulcan). In "Iliad" she is soft and weak.
Early Greek poems called her "beautiful, golden goddess"
Romans said without her there is no joy or loveliness anywhere
Later poems, she is treacherous and malicious, exerting a deadly and
destructive power over men.
J. Hermes (Mercury) Messenger of the Gods
God of Commerce and the market-place. Divine Herald who led souls
down to their last home. He was solemn guide of the dead.
Zeus was his father. Maia, daughter of Atlas, was his mother.
Had winged sandals on his feet; wings on his hat.
Of all the gods, he was the shrewdest and most cunning. Is "Master
Gave the lyre to Apollo. He appears in mythology more often than any
K. Artemis (Diana) Goddess of the Hunt and the Chase
Lover of woods and the chase - Lady of the wild things - preserver of
Another name for her is Phoebe, a Titan name - did not belong to her.
Phoebe means moon
She is Apollo's twin sister, daughter of Zeus and Leto
In later poems Artemis is indetified with Hecate
Hecate is a goddess with three forms:
1. Selene in the sky
2. Hecate in lower world and upper world when it is
wrapped in darkness
3. Artemis on earth
L. Hephaestus (Vulcan) God of Fire and Forge
Hera's son - sometimes called the son of Zeus, too
Among the beautiful immortals, only he was ugly and lame
Said to be thrown out of Olympus (heaven) when they saw he was
In Homer he is highly honored
Armorer and smith of the immortals; he makes their dwellings,
furnishings, and weapons
In later poems his foge is said to be under this or that volcano and
to cause eruptions
Hesoid said his wife was Aglaia; Homer said she was Aphrodite
With Athena, he is important in the life of city - civilization
He was kindly, peace-loving god, popular on earth as in heaven
THE GREAT GODS OF EARTH
A. Demeter (Ceres) Goddess of Corn and Harvest
Daughter of Cronus and Rhea
Care of fields is the woman's job when men fished and hunted
Daughter is Persephone
She is one of the oldest goddesses.
In the Mediterranean world before the year 2,000 B.C.E., the people
worshipped a MOTHER GODDESS. Statues of this mother goddess have
been found all over the Mediterranean. When the Greeks invaded the
peninsula, the mother goddess religion passed into the worship of
Demeter at Eleusis.
Beside Demeter at Eleusis many years later sat Dionysus; they then
ruled jointly there.
At Eleusis was a secret worship; experts believe that the Greeks
reached the concept of one God there instead of many gods.
B. Dionysus (Bacchus) God of Vine and wine - Father of Greek theater
He was the last god to enter Olympus
The Greeks finally accepted him in their hierarchy to tame the worship
of this god.
Worship of this god was very bloody to begin with.
They worshipped him in the forest where much wine was drunk and then
they would tear apart some human being and plow his body into
the soil to insure good crops for the next year - good wine
However, Dionysus came to mean more than any other god at Eleusis
Stood for three things.
1. Drunkeness- if you drink too much wine you get drunk. The
Greeks were intelligent people and they realized this side of
2. Inspiration- one or two glasses of wine and man could think
thoughts higher than himself. From inspiration comes the theater.
3. Resurrection- from the dead to eternal life. Northing is pruned
more severly than grape viines in the fall. However, in the spring
they come to life and grow once again. Through observing the grape
vine, the Greeks reached the conept that man, too, could come back
to life after death and achieve eternal life in Olympus.
Lesser gods that you should be aquainted with:
Eros- (Cupid) (Amour) God of Love
Hymen- God of the Wedding Feast
Hebe- Goddess of Youth
Ganymede- cupbearer to the gods
Tris- Goddess of the Rainbow; female messenger for the gods
The Graces -(3 sisters ) Aglaia (Splendor; Euphrosyne (Mirth); Thalia
The Muses- (nine in number) They inspired me; The man they inspired was
sacred far beyong any priest
Dike- human justice Themis (a Titan means right or divine justice)
Nemesis- righteous anger
Aidos- reverance and the shane that holds men back from wrongdoing
Gods of Waters:
Pontus- Deep sea
Nereus- sea god Old man of the sea (the Mediterranean) never lies
Nereids- nymphs of the sea; Thetis- was mother of Achilles
Amphitrite- Poseidon's wife
Triton- trumpeter of the Sea
Proteus- could foretell future and change his shape at will
Naiads- water nymphs - dwelt in springs and fountains
Gods of the Underworld: Hades is king; Perspehone is queen
Tartarus- the deeper depth of Hell - prison of sons of Earth
Erebus- upper division of Hell - where dead pass when they die
Charon- receives into his boat only the souls of those who upon whose
lips the passage money was placed when they died and who were truly
buried. CERBERUS- three-headed dog guards the entrance
Five rivers of the underworld:
1. Acheron- river of woe
2. Cocytus- river of lamentatio
3. Phlegaethon- river of fire
4. Styx- river of unbreakable oath
5. Lethe- river of forgetfulness
Possesses Meadows of asphodel- strange, pallied, ghostly flowing
The ERINYES (the Furies) they pursue evil doers and punish them (3 in
number) Sleep and Death, his brother live in the underworld
Lesser gods of the Earth
Pan- Goatherder's and sheepherder's god
Silenus- Pan's son- jovial fat old man who road ass; too drunk to walk
Castor and Pollux- special protectors of sailors
The Sileni- part man and part horse
The Satyrs- goatmen
Oryads- maidens of woodlands
Aeolus- king of Winds; Boreas- north wind; Zenhyr- west wind; Notus-
south wind; Eurus- east wind.
The Centaurs- half man, half horese; savage creatures, more like beasts
The Gordons- three in number - two wre immortal; their look turned men
The Sirens- lured sailors to their death- had enchanting voices
(ODYSSEUS COMES INTO DIRECT CONTACT WITH THESE GODESSESS
AND THIS EXPERIENCE IS OFTEN DEPICTED ON MANY ANCIENT GREEK
VASES AND SCULPTURES-Justin Eichenlaub)
The Fates (3 in number) Moirae- in Greek, Parcae- in Latin. Determined
whether lived or died.
MAIN CHARACTERS AND PLACE IN THE ODYSSEY
Zeus (Jupiter) god (supreme) of the Olympians
Poseidon (Neptune) god of the sea
Hades (Pluto) god of Hades or the Underworld
Apollo god of Light and Truth (oracle at Delphi)
Hermes (Mercury) messenger god
Ares (Mars) god of war
Hephaestus (Vulcan) god of fire and forge
Hera (Juno) goddess queen of Oympian; Zeus¹ wife
Artemis (Diana) goddess of the hunt and chase
Athena (Minerva) goddess of wisdom and reason
Aphrodite (Venus) goddess of love and beauty
Hestia (Vesta) goddess of hearth and home
Demeter (Ceres) goddess of corn and harvest
Dionysus (Bacchus) god of vine and wine
Thetis sea nymph; mother of Achilles
Peleus father of Achilles - mortal
Hector son of Priam, king of Troy; prince of Troy; husband of
Andromache and father of Astynax; Achilles killed him and drug his
body around the walls of Troy.
Andromache Hector's wife
Paris prince of Troy; carried Helen off to Troy
Oenone the nymph who loved Paris on Mt. Ida. Paris left her for
Priam king of Troy
Hecuba wife of Priam
Helenus prophet for the Trojans
Aeneas escaped buring Troy; Aphrodite was his mother; he founded
Rome. Prince of Troy
Cassandra daughter of Priam; she could foretell the future but no one
would believe her. She was given as a prize of honor to Agememnon.
Clymenstra killed her when Agamemnon brought her home
Odysseus hero of the Odyssey; resourceful, crafty, wise, sly and
clever. He thought of the Trojan Horse. Greek warrior.
Penelope wife of Odysseus; she keeps his home at Ithaca safe for him
until his return. The ideal Greek woman (THROUGHOUT THE ENTIRE
20 YEARS OF ODYSSEUS' ABSENCE, SHE STAYED CHASTE
THE ENTIRE TIME!-Justin Eichenlaub)
Telemachus son of Odysseus
Achilles greatest Greek warrior before the walls of Troy. His mother
dipped him in the river Styx to make him immortal but held him by
the heel. So in this one spot, his heel, he was vulnerable. Paris
shot the arrow that hit him in the heel and killed him.
Agamemnon King of Argos; husband of Clytemenstra; leader of the
Greek army that sailed for Troy. Aegisthus, his newphew killed him
on his return from Troy -(WITH ASSISTANCE FROM AGAMEMNON¹S
Aegisthus lover of Agamemnon¹s wife Clytemenstra; when
Agamemnon returned from Troy, he killed him
Ajax brave warrior at Troy; on his return home his ship was
wrecked. He swam ashore and boasted as he was holding onto an embankment
that he had escaped death from the gods. The gods sent a wave that washed him
out to sea and drowned him. Poseidon split the rock on which he had found
safety and washed him out to sea.
Achaeans the name Homer uses to refer to the Greeks
Argives another name Homer uses to refer to the Greeks
Menelaus king of Sparta, husband of Helen, brother of Agamemnon.
He was the last to get home from Troy before Odysseus.
Alcinous king of the Phaecians and father of Nausicaa; he it was who
gave assitance to Odysseus by providing a ship to take him home to Ithaca.
Nausicaa princess of the Phaeacians and daughter of King Alcinous;
it was she who discovered Odysseus on the beach after he had been
shipwrecked and swam ashore on her island.
Helen wife of Menelaus; known as Helen of Troy. Paris abducted
her and carried her off to Troy. This kidnapping caused the Trojan War.
Nestor oldest and wisest of all the Greek chieftinas before the walls
of Troy. King of Pylos. Telemachus visits him when
searching for his father; Nestor sent him to Menelaus.
Orestes son of Agamemnon; he killed Aegisthus who had killed his father
Phaeacians their king was Alcinous; they lived on the island of
Scheria. Odysseus was shipwrecked there and Nausicaa, the
princess, found him on the beach.
Antinous a wooer for the hand of Penelope on the island of Ithaca
Eurymachus another wooer for the hand of Penelope
Eumaeus swineherder (very loyal) of Odysseus
Eurycleia old and faithful maid servant of Odysseus
Demodocus bard or musician in the household of Odysseus
Ida mountain in Crete and near Troy
Ino sea nymph who helped Odysseus get to shore after he was shipwrecked
Medon faithful servant of Odysseu
Mentor faithful friend of Odysseus on Ithaca
Pallas name given Athene
Patroclus warrior friend of Achilles
Peisistratus Nestor's son and Telemachus¹ escort to Menelaus
Pylos neighboring city to Ithaca; Nestor ruled there.
Ithaca home island of Odysseus'
Teiresias a prophet of Thebes whom Odysseus visited in Hades
Polybus father of Eurmachus, one of the wooers
(THE FOLLWING IS THE MOST VALUABLE AND IMPORTANT PART OF THIS PACKET, IT IS VERY GOOD TO UNDERSTANDING THE STORY)
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ON EACH BOOK OF THE ODYSSEY
from the translation by S. H. Butcher and Andrew Lang by the Airmont Publishing Co.--( I AM SURE THAT THIS WAS PROBABLY THE BEST TRANSLATION WHEN THIS GUIDE WAS COMPOSED, HOWEVER I AM OF THE OPINION THAT A MUCH NEW TRANSLATION BY ROBERT FAGLES IS MUCH BETTER, MORE ENJOYABLE, AND INTERESTING!!-Justin Eichenlaub)
1. Why does Homer open his "tale" with the supplication, "Tell me, Muse
of that man, so ready at need, who wandered far and wide, after he had
sacked the sacred citadel of Troy,..."?
A. Homer is asking the Muse on Olympus to inspire him to write the
greatest story ever told; it will be about Odysseus, the man who
wandered ten years over the Mediterranean Sea aread endeavoring to get
home to his island of Ithaca.
2. Did Odysseus save his men from destruction? Why not?
A. No, they were all killed.
B. They disobeyed the Sun god and ate his oxen. Helios Hyperion, the
Sun god, killed the men for this act of sacrilege.
3. Where had Odysseus been?
A. At Troy, buring and sacking it. The Greeks had beseiged it for ten
years and finally through the trick of the Trojan Horse, entered the
city and destroyed it.
4. What is Odysseus trying to do now?
A. For the past ten years he had been trying to get home to his kingdom
5. How does Homer describe Odysseus in this book? What does this tell
A. As versatile, in mental powers beyond all other mortals, divine,
goodly, Odysseus of the hardy heart, and Mentes calls him that
resourceful man, and godlike Odysseus.
B. Odysseus is quite a man. He is good, intelligent beyond all other
men, good-looking, courageous, and can think himself out of many
6. Did all the other warriors who fought at the battle of Troy get home?
A. Yes, of those who had escaped war and the sea, all are home.
Odysseus is the only one who has not as yet returned home.
7. Where is Odysseus?
A. On the island of Ogygia with the lady nymph Calypso. Calypso is
holding him prisoner on her island against his will. She wants
Odysseus to marry her and to be her lord.
8. Who is Odysseus' hated enemy and why?
A. Poseidon, god of the sea.
B. He drives Odysseus wandering over the sea from place to place and
will not let him go home to Ithaca. Odysseus had blinded Poseidon¹s
son, Polyphemus, the one-eyed Cyclopes.
9. Who is Odysseus¹ protectress? What does this tell us about Odysseus?
A. Athene, goddess of wisdom and reason. She is the cleverst among the
B. Athene is the wisest among the immortals; Odysseus is the wisest
among mortals. They make a perfect pair.
10. Where is Poseidon, Odysseus' immortal enemy now?
A. Gone from Olympus to the land of the Ethiipians; the Ethiopienas are
offering hecatombs of bulls and damns to Poseidon and he has gone to
recieve in person their offerings.
11. Where are the other gods of Olympus?
A. They are gathering in the halls of Olympian Zeus.
12. As the gods congregate, what does Zeus complain about?
A. That men do what they wish on earth and then they blame the evils
that befall them on the gods instead of on the "blindness of their own
13. What example of man¹s actios does Zeus give to prove his poit?
A. The story of Agamemnon.
Agamemnon came home to Argos from the battle and sacking of Troy. He
had been gone ten years. While away, his wife Cltyemenstra had taken a
lover, her newphew Aegisthus. When Agamemnon returned, the two killed
him at his own table while he was eating dinner; they also killed his
prize of honor, Cassandra, princess of Troy. Then, after a few
years, Orestes, Agamemnon's son, killed his mother and her lvoer
Aegisthus. Hermes, messnger god, had been sent by Zeus to warn
Aegisthus what would happen if he loved Clytemenstra and killed her
husband, but he would not listen.
Zeus said men do not listen to the gods; however, they blame all the
evils that happen to them on the gods when in reality, they themselves
are to blame for their own misfortunes.
14. At this point what does Athene ask of Zeus? Why is she able to talk
freely about this matter?
A. She siad first that Aegisths got what he had coming. However,
Odysseus does not deserve his fate far from his home and held in
captivity by Calypso because Odysseus made offerings to Zeus.
Athene then asks that Odysseus be allowed to return home to Ithaca.
B. She is able to talk freely because Poseidon, Odysseus¹ enemy, is
absent from Olympus.
15. Does Zeus agree to allow Odysseus to return home? What are his
A. Yes. He decrees that Poseidon will be told he must forego his
displeasure and allow Odysseus to go home.
B. Hermes it to be dispatched to Calypso; he is to tell her she must
allow Odysseus to go.
C. Athene is to go to Ithaca to rouse Telemachus, Odysseus¹ son, to
action to seek information about his father from Nestor of Pylos and
Menelaus of Sparta.
16. What literally is Odysseus¹ problem?
A. He cannot bring himself to leave Calypso.
17. Odysseus has a weakness. Calypso plays on this. What is it?
A. Sensualness (lust). Odysseus enjoys beautiful women. After all he
has been with her for seven years!!!!
18. Odysseus is supposed to be a good man.. What will a good man do in
this "state of affairs"?
A. He will turn his back on this sensual, provocative, beautiful woman
and return home to his lawful wife and son as a good man shoudl do.
Good men must conquer sensualness within themselves.
19. Athene goes to Ithaca and to Odysseus' palace. What circumstances
and conditions does she find there?
A. Wooers, men who are courting Penelope, Odysseus¹ wife, are living in
his palace, eating his food, drinking his good wine, and they refuse
to leave until Penelope consents to marry one of them.
20. Why doesn¹t Penelope "kick" them out?
A. Rules of hospitality requrie that hse offer food, drink, sleeping
quarters----hospitality to all who come. Besides, there are over 100
of them. She does not have the resources nor the manpower to "kick"
them out. Her son Telemachus is young and does not know what to do with
21. Why do twenty to thirty-year old men want to marry Penelope, a
forty-year old woman?
A. She is queen of Ithaca. They think Odysseus is dead. If one of
them marries Penelope, he will be king of Ithaca. They want to be king
and possess his title plus his possessions. Telemachus is young and
without resources to claim his rightful title and possessions.
22. When Athene arrives at Odysseus' palace, how does she know that
Telemachus is a virtuous young man?
A. He greets her, a stranger, hospitably, offers her meat and drink, and
said she could tell her tale after she had eaten. Those are the proper
things to do and in that order.
23. Does Athene appear to Telemachus as a goddess?
A. No, she appeared in the guise of Mentes the captain and king of the
Taphians and lovers of the oar.
24. As Mentes, what does Athene say he is doing in Ithaca?
A. He is questing for copper; he has a cargo of iron. He said he is a
friend of Laertes, father of Odysseus, and of Odysseus. He came because
he heard Odysseus was home; however, he as found out Odysseus is not
25. What does Mentes Athene tell Telemachus about his father?
A. His father is being held and kept from coming home but that he will
soon find a way to return home. This is to give Telemachus hope.
26. What does she tell Telemachus to do? Why?
A. He is to seek his father. He is to leave Ithaca and go seek news of
Odysseus in Pylos and Sparta.
B. She wants to get him away from the wooers; they might kill him.
Also, she wants to start him on his education to learn how other rulers
- and good ones - rule men. She wants to give him experience.
27. What further instructions does Mentes Athene give Telemachus?
A. Call an assembly of all the people of Ithaca in the morning. Tell
the wooers to leave or they will face dire consequences.
28. How do the wooers react when Telemachus tells them of the assembly
in the morning and that they should go home?
A. They say he will never be king of Ithaca; and they will never leave
until his mother marries one of them.
29. Does Telemachus realize that Mentes is really the goddess Athene?
A. Yes. When the wooers ask who Mentes was, he is evasive and tells
them as little as possible.
30. Who is Eurycleia and what does she do for Telemachus?
A. She is an old handmaiden who has worked in Odysseus' household for
many years. She lights the way for Telemachus when he retires to his
chambers for the night.
31. Of what does Telemachus think as he drifts off to sleep?
A. He meditates on what Mentes Athene has told him and on his coming
journey to Pylos and Sparta.
32. Phemius is the minstrel in the house of Odysseus. Penelope asks him
not to sing the song he signs for the wooers. Why? How is Phemius like
A. He signs of Troy; it reminds Penelope of Odysseus and he has been
gone twenty years. It makes her sorrowful.
B. Phemius is blind like Homer. (or so one belief/theory goes)
1. What is the first thing Telemachus does the next morning? What does
this tell us about government on Ithaca?
A. Tells the heralds to call the Achaeans of Ithaca to an assembly.
B. There are some democratic principals on the island. People can
express themselves and have a say in their government.
2. For the first time the wooers treat Telemachus with respect and
politely step aside. Why?
A. Athene shed "wondrous grace" on him. However, for the first time he
is conducting himself and acting like a mature adult.
3. How long has it been since an assembly has been called on Ithaca?
A. Twenty years. Odysseus called the last one before he departed for
Troy on his decked ships.
4. Any person may speak at the assembly if he has what in his hands?
A. The staff.
5. Why has Telemachus called the assembly?
A. To ask the Achaeans (wooers) to leave his house and desist in wasting
his substance. He asks the people of Ithaca to back him in this.
6. What does Antinous, head wooer, reply?
A. They will not leave until Penelope marries one of them.
7. What does Antinous tell us that Penelope has been doing to hold off
choosing a new husband from among the wooers?
A. For three years she has been weaving a shroud for Odysseus'; father
Laertes to be buried in. She weaved it by day and unraveled it by night
so it is never finished. The wooers found out she was doing this from
one of her traitorous handmaidens and caught her in the act. They
demanded that she finish the shroud and choose one of them for her
8. What does this weaving and unraveling symbolize?
A. It parallels the conditions in the Ithacan state. It holds together
precariously and yet is falling apart for lack of a virtuous ruler and
law and order.
9. Why does Antinous insist that Penelope be sent back to her father's
A. This pertains to the marriage customs of the day. If she returns
home she can take her dowry which becomes the property of the man that
her father tells her to marry next.
10. Why doesn't Telemachus send his mother to her father's house?
A. First, he loves her; she is his mother. He is afraid if he send her
from the house, he will curse his house and call the Avengers down upon
Second, he cannot afford to send her back to her father Icarius. If she
leaves, she can take her dowry and this would deplete his father's
house. He would also have to pay restitution to Icarius if he sent her
back. His father would be angry if he returned home to find wealth gone
from his house. The boy cannot do this.
11. When Telemachus again warns the wooers to leave, what sign does Zeus
send to back him?
A. Two eagles appear in the sky, hover over the wooers with destruction
in their eyes.
12. Who next warns the wooers?
A. Halistherses, a soothsayer, warned them that Odysseus was coming home
in this the twentieth year of being gone. he would bring death and
destruction for the wooers.
13. How does Eurymachus, a wooer, answer?
A. He insults the aged Halitherses and tells him to go home. This is
the height of bad manners to insult a wise old soothsayer. He even
threatens him. Then he repeats the same thing; they will not leave
until Penelope marries one of them.
14. What does Telemachus ask of them next?
A. To give him a swift ship so he can go to Pylos and Sparta and seek
new of his father.
15. Mentor speaks next. Who is he? Who does Mentor say is to blame for
the disorder on Ithaca?
A. Mentor is the man, friend of Odysseus, whom Odysseus left in charge
of Ithaca when he sailed for Troy.
B. Mentor blames the people for the disorder. They are many; the wooers
are few. The people should do what is right and help Telemachus drive
the wooers from his home. They are cowards and do nothing.
(this is so true in democracies; the many allow the few to dominate and
control things when the power really lies with the people to demand
16. How does Leocritus, a wooer, answer Mentor?
A. He said the wooers will kill Odysseus when he comes - if he comes.
What can one man do with a 100 wooers? He hints that Telemachus will
never get out of Ithaca. They will not help him get a ship.
17. After the people disperse, Telemachus prays to Athene to help him.
How does she appear to him this time?
A. As Mentor
18. What instructions does she give him?
A. First, she is a bit put out with him telling him that "sons are
usually worse then their fathers." The first thing he does is cry for
help; he never uses his wits.
Second, she said for him to pack provisions for the voyage; she will get
a ship and men to man it for him.
19. When Telemachus threatens the wooers who are feasting in his house
again, what is their reaction?
A. Maybe he will die on this voyage to Pylos and then they can have and
divide his inheritance also.
20. What is Eurycleia's reaction when Telemachus tells her to pack
provisions for his voyage?
A. She wails. He should not leave. He is the only heir. He should not
leave with the house full of beastly wooers. His duty is here at home.
21. Telemachus stills her fears telling her a goddess bids me to go. He
makes her promise what? Why?
A. Not to tell his mother his going.
B. His mother will probably wail and put up a worse fuss.
22. What does Athene do in the meantime?
A. Puts the wooers to sleep. Disguises herself as Telemachus and
recruits the youthful men, his friends, of Ithaca to man the ship for
him on the coming voyage.
23. Does Telemachus get away safely?
A. Yes. While the wooers sleep, he boards his ship with his provisions
and they speed for Pylos.
1. What worries Telemachus when he reaches Pylos? Why does Athene
insist that he do the talking?
A. He worries that he will not know how to talk properly before men. He
B. Athene realizes that this is the only way that he will gain
experience in relating to other men of importance.
2. How is Telemachus received by Nestor of Pylos?
He is greeted; he is invited to eat and rink; he is bathed and then
asked to tell his tale.
3. To whom is Nestor offering hecatombs? Why?
A. Poseidon, god of the sea
B. For having brought Nestor and his companions home safely from Troy.
4. Why has Telemachus come?
A. To find out information about his father, Odysseus.
5. What news does Telemachus get about his father?
A. Nine years the Greeks fought to take Troy.
B. Aias, Achilles, Patroclus, and Nestor's son, Antilochus, were all
killed at Troy.
C. Odysseus and Nestor were of one mind at Troy; they never disagreed.
Both gave the Argives sounds counsel always.
D. After the Greeks sacked and burned Troy, Menelaus and Agamemnon
gathered the Greeks on the beach. The Greek warriors came thick with
wine. The two brothers had a disagreement.
1. Menelaus was for leaving immediately for home.
2. Agamemnon wanted the entire host to offer hecatombs to Athene first
before they left to appease her.
E. Nestor and Odysseus left immediately but stopped at the island of
Tenedos and offer sacrifices to the gods.
F. Nestor then sailed for home.
Odysseus left Nestor and went his own way from Tenedos.
G. Nestor sailed for Pylos and made it home safely. So did the
Myrmidons, Achilles' men and son; so did Philoctetes. Idomeneus made it
home to Crete.
6. Nestor mentions Orestes, Agamemnon's son, to Telemachus. Why?
A. Orestes avenged his father's death. He acted lie a mature man
killing the two had killed his father. Orestes is an example Telemachus
should try to emulate.
7. Mentor Athene berates Telemachus many times. Why?
A. He is forever bewailing his plight; he is enduring it rather than
trying to devise some way to defeat the wooers.
8. What is Telemachus' problem?
A. His is young and immature. He has been raised in a household of
women without a man (father) to teach him manly ways of aggressiveness
9. Is he learning anything in Chapter III?
A. Yes. He sees how Nestor leads his clan. He sees how Prince
Pisistratus, Nestor's son, conducts himself. He is learning how to act
in the presence of worthy men. He is learning how he should always be
hospitable and honor the strangers and gods. He is learning what a wise
and courageous man his father was.
10. What further information does Telemachus learn concerning
A. When Agamemon left for Troy, he left a minstrel in charge over his
wife Clytemnestra. At first Clytemnestra would not listen to Aegisthus'
words tempting her to be disloyal to her husband. Finally, she gave in.
Aegisthus then took the bard to an island and left him there to be the
prey of animals. The two became lovers. Seven years they ruled after
they slew Agamemnon. In the eighth year, Orestes slew them.
11. Why did Agamemnon leave his lands in charge of a bard?
A. Evidently he did not trust his wife even then.
12. What further news do we hear concerning Menelaus?
A. Menelaus left when Odysseus and Nestor did. When Menelaus reached
Sunium, the headland of Athens, his ship's pilot died. Menelaus stopped
to give him last rites and bury him. When he continued on his way, a
storm smote his fleet in twin off Cape Malea. Half the fleet made it to
Crete. Five ships with Menelaus aboard made it Egypt.
13. Where does Nestor advise Telamachus to go for more information?
A. To Sparta to see Menelaus because Menelaus has just come home.
14. Where does Telemachus spend the night?
A. In the halls of Nestor.
15. What offering does Nestor make in the morning? Describe it.
A. To Athene
B. A heifer if brought from the field.
Smith gilds horns of heifer with gold given by Nestor.
Water and barley meal are brought.
Nestor washes his hands and sprinkles the meal.
All prayed to Athene.
Lock of hair from head of heifer is cast into the fire.
Man with axe severed head of heifer.
Women cry out.
Heifer's throat is cut and blood is caught in a bowl.
Cut heifer's thighs, wrap in fat, and burn as an offering to the gods.
Red wine is poured over this also.
Men roast rest of heifer and feast on the meat.
16. How does Telemachus get to Sparta?
A. In a chariot drawn by horses lent to him by Nestor. Pisistratus son
of Nestor, drove the chariot and accompanied Telemachus.
17. How long does it take to drive to Sparta?
A. Two days.
1. Why has Nestor sent Telemachus to Sparta (Lacedaemon)?
A. Menelaus may have more information about his father Odysseus.
B. Telemachus will be able to see how another kingdom is ruled.
C. Telemachus will see the man who handled an adultery in his own
household. Helen, Menelaus¹ wife, was carried to Troy by Paris.
Menelaus brought her back. Telemachus can learn much from such a man.
2. When Telemachus and Pisistratus arrive in Sparta, what celebrations
are taking place?
A. Two weddings are being prepared for. Hermione, daughter of Helen and
Menelaus, is being sent to marry the son of Achilles in the land of the
Myrmidons; Menelaus had promised her to him when the Greeks were in Troy
Menelaus' son, Megapenthes, son of a slave woman, is being married to
the daughter of the Spartan, Alector.
3. What does this tell us of customs in Greece?
A. Evidently Greek men take concubines and a concubine¹s child at this
time in history can become an heir. There seems to be no great stigma
on a child being born out of wedlock at this time.
4. Has Helen had other children?
A. No. Only Hermoine. She has had no children since Menelaus got her
back at Troy.
5. Is Menelaus hospitable to the two young visitors?
A. Yes, he follows all the rules of hospitality so important to Greek
life at this time.
1. Fed their horses spelt, a king of wheat
2. Tilted their chariot against the gateway
3. Telemachus and Pisistratus were bathed by young maidens
4. They were anointed with olive oil
5. They were given cloaks, doublets, and set beside Menelaus and his
6. They were given food and drink
7. Then they were asked to tell their tales
8. They were given precious gifts when they left
These are the rules of hospitality. After they have been performed a
guest cannot harm a host and a host cannot harm a guest. If one does,
it is considered one of the greatest of wrongs.
6. Is Telemachus impressed with Menelaus¹ palace and wealth?
A. Yes, he is awed by it; he likens the palace and treasurers to the
halls of Olympian Zeus.
7. Where has Menelaus acquired all his treasures?
A. During his wanderings when he was coming home from Troy. He acquired
treasures in Cyprus, Phoenicia, Egypt, Ethiopia, Sidonia, Erembi, and
Libya. He is a well-traveled man. Telemachus can learn much from such
a worldly man.
8. What incidents do we learn about that happened at Troy from Menelaus
A. Helen tells of when Odysseus entered the city of Troy in the disguise
of a beggar. She recognized who he was but did not give him away and
tell the Trojans. She said she did not tell because she wanted the
Greeks to win so she could leave Troy and go home.
B. Menelaus said he has heard her story man times. However, if she
desired to leave Troy, then why did she try to betray the Greeks when
they were hiding in the wooden Trojan horse? She at that time had
walked around the horse three times calling out the names of the Greek
men in the horse; she had even pretended to be their wives when she
called to them. It was Odysseus who forcibly closed the mouths of the
warriors in the horse and kept them from giving themselves away to the
9. What does this last story tell us about Menelaus?
A. He is not stupid. He realizes that Helen would have betrayed him to
10. Then why does Menelaus want Helen with him?
A. She is a beautiful woman. Men love beautiful women.
11. The entire company begins sobbing when remembrances of Troy and
stories of the Greek heroes are discussed. What does Helen do as they
A. She puts drugs in their wine to lull their pain and anger before it
gets out of hand.
12. Do Menelaus and Helen recognize Telemachus?
A. They have never met him; however, they recognize him because of his
resemblance to Odysseys.
13. What does Telemachus learn about his father from Menelaus?
A. Proteus, a minor divinity of the sea, told Menelaus he had seen
Odysseus wasting away on the island of Calypso.
14. We learn more about Ithaca. What was it?
A. Ithaca is really a poor island. It is rocky and raises only very
short grasses. Only goats could graze there. Its grasslands would
never support horses as Sparta does. We find that through Homer¹s
prose, we think Ithaca some glorious place; however, it is a very poor
island. Probably Odysseus¹ palace is just a plain old habitation also.
Homer just makes it sound so glorious.
15. What gifts do Menelaus and Helen give Telemachus?
A. Mixing bowl of silver.
Helen gave him a robe for his future bride.
16. While Telemachus is in Sparta, what decision do the suitors come to
A. To get a swift ship and lie in wait for Telemachus and slay him when
17. Penelope hears of these plans of the wooers from the henchman Medon.
What does she do?
A. She had not known Telemachus had even gone from the island. She
wails and laments and made ³low moan.² She berated her handmaidens for
not telling her Telemachus had gone.
18. How does Eurycleia in her answer to Penelope symbolize law and
A. She admitted readily she had kept his going secret because he had
commanded her to do so. She had also packed provisions for his voyage.
She suggested Penelope bathe, put on clean raiment, go to her chamber
and pray for Telemachus¹ safety.
She is telling Penelope to be a queen, get her emotions under control,
act as a queen should act, be what she is supposed to be, ³every inch a
19. How does Penelpoe symbolize the universal mother?
A. All mothers worry about their young sons and they really cannot make
it without them. All mothers hate to cut the strings. It is human
20. How does Penelope know Telemachus will return safely?
A. her sister Iphthime (she is sent by the gods) appears to her in a
dream and she tells Penelope that Telemachus will be safe.
21. Where are the wooers this evening?
A. Sailing forth in a ship to way lay Telemachus.
22. Proteus is a minor divinity of the sea who can change his shape at
will. How are his changing shapes an explanation of the sea¹s nature to
the Argives? (Achaeans, Greeks)?
A. The sea, too, changes its shape. It broods, it has fogs, it raged
with storm winds and waves; it can also be smooth and calm. Proteus and
the sea are forever temperamental.
1. At the beginning of Book V, we are again back in Olympus at a council
of the gods. What instructions are given Hermes?
A. Go to Calypso and tell her she has to allow Odysseus to home.
2. What temptations does Calypso symbolize to Odysseus?
A. Sensualness, ease, luxury, lust, and security. She has also promised
him agelessness and immortality if he will stay with her. It will take
a strong and disciplined man to turn his back on and leave these
3. Odysseus turns his back on these things. Why?
A. In his many trials, travels, and tribulations, he has learned much.
He has learned much. He has learned to obey the gods and accept what
befalls him, revere family and home, discipline and control sensualness
within himself. He has learned the most important thing in life is a
wife, son, family, and home. He is not afraid of travel and hardships;
he realizes these things are necessary to learn an appreciation of what
is right and good.
4. How is it that today we know how to build a raft as they made on in
A. Homer¹s description of Odysseus¹ building of his raft is so detailed
that a raft can be built from his description.
5. Will Odysseus leave without Calypso¹s permission?
A. No. He knows her powers; she is a goddess. He wants her approval
and blessing before he leaves.
6. How many days does it take him to build his raft?
A. Four days. On the fifth day he set sail.
7. What provisions does Calypso send with him?
A. Two skins - one of wine, one of water.
A wallet of corn
A store of dainties
A gentle wind for his sail
8. How does Odysseus guide his path over the sea?
A. By the stars
9. How many days did he traverse the deep sea before he sighted the land
of the Phaecians?
A. Seventeen days. On the eighteenth day he sighted land.
10. Who now see Odysseus and makes trouble for him?
A. Poseidon, returning from Ethiopia, sights Odysseus, raises a storm,
blows his raft hither and thither, and makes things miserable for him.
11. Who helps Odysseus?
A. Ino of the fair ankles. She is a sea nymph. She tells Odysseus to
cast off his expensive garments given him by Calypso, leave his raft,
and swim for land. She gives him her veil to wrap around himself so he
will not perish. He finally does it.
12. How long is it before he reaches land in safety?
A. Two days and two nights. On the third day, he made land. He did not
forget and put Ino¹s veil back into the sea.
13. In Odysseus¹ choosing of a place to sleep that night, how is his
A. He always thinks before be he acts. He reasoned were it better to
stay near the river bed and almost freeze or risk freezing or were it
better to go up the hillside and find shelter in the woods and thickets.
14. What is his decision?
A. He chooses the hillside. He crawls into a thicket, covers himself
with leaves, and falls asleep. He is unclothed, naked, penniless, and
homeless, but he is alive. He still has his life and his clever brain.
As long as he has those, Odysseus will survive.
CHARACTER ANALYSIS OF MAIN CHARACTERS SO FAR
Odysseus...as we have met the man so far, he has shown many
characteristics. He is careful and patient. Careful not to displease
Calypso so that she will turn against him. He handles her carefully so
that this goddess will allow him to leave without any vindictiveness on
her part. He is patient; he has wasted patiently seven years here with
her - waiting to be allowed to go home. He is a good sailor; he guides
his raft by the stars. He thinks before he acts. He debated the best
place to sleep for the night. He is a determined man not afraid to face
hardships. He loves his family and home and continually tries to get
back to them. He is now a disciplined man; he can turn his back on
sensualness, ease, luxury, etc., and do what all good men shoudl do - go
home to wife and family.
Telemachus...he is a young and inexperienced young man who does not know
how to rule a kingdom. He has been raised in a household of women; he
has never had the example of a father to show him how to be forceful and
lead other men. So he is in a quandary as to know what to do about the
wooers who have invaded his home and who are wasting his father¹s
substance and stores. However, by the end of Book V, he is learning how
to lead. He visits Pylos and Sparta and sees how other men rule; he has
watched Pisistratus, prince of Pylos, and seen how he has acted. He is
a young man who is learning and willing to learn.
Penelope...she is the good and virtous wife who loves her man and her
son. She is the picture of the universal wife and what she should be.
She is tradition. She has stayed at home, kept the fires burning, been
loyal and not taken a lover, and held all Odysseus¹ wealth together up
to this point. She has done this for twenty years while he has spent
ten years at Troy and ten years wandering over the Mediterranean Sea
area; he has even had affairs with other women; nonetheless, this does
not deter Penelope. She is the good woman; no matter what he does, she
will be waiting for him when he returns. That, the Greeks felt, was a
woman¹s duty, and Penelope fulfills their hopes to the limit.
1. Where did the Phaeacians use to live and why did they leae that
A. Near the Cyclopes. The Cyclopes harried them continually so
Nausithous who was king then, led them to the island of Scheria where
they now live.
2. Who rules in Phaeacia today?
A. Alcinous is king Arete is his queen. Nausicaa is his daughter.
3. How is Nausicaa pictured as a typical teenage girl?
A. She leaves her clothes lie about her room and does not take care of
them properly. She neglects making clothes and things to prepare for
the day when she will have a husband.
4. What orders does Athene give Nausicaa in a dream?
A. Get mules and a cart, put family¹s clothes in the cart, and go do the
5. What do we learn about the the role of a princess in this society?
A. A princess drives her own cart full of soiled linenes and helps wash
6. How do Nausicaa and her girl friends wash clothes? What else do they
A. They take the clothes to a stream of water.
They trod on the clothes while they are in the water.
They spread them to dry on clean rocks and pebbles.
Then the girls bathe themselves and annoint their bodies with olive
Then they eat their picnic lunch.
Then the girls played ball while the clothes dried.
7. What awakens Odysseus?
A. The cries of the girls while they are playing ball.
8. What worries Odysseus?
A. Whether the land he has come to contains people who are wild and
unjust or whether they will be hospitable and god-fearing.
9. What decision does Odysseus have to make when he sees the girls?
A. He is naked and in a sad condition. Should he approach these girls
in such a condition.
10. What does Odysseus do?
A. He holds a branch over his nakedness and approaches the girls.
11. What do the girls do?
A. Alll of them fled but Nausicaa. She stayed to talk to him.
12. What decision now confronts Odysseus that shows he is a thinking and
A. Whether he should clasp Nausicaa¹s knees and beg her for help OR
whether he should stand apart and use clever words.
13. What does Odysseus do?
A. He uses smooth, clever words of flattery: ³I supplicate thee, O
queen, wether thou art a goddess or a mortal! If indeed thou art a
goddess of them that keep the wide heaven; to Artemis, then, the
daughter of great Zeus, I mainly liken three, for beauty and stature and
B. He also accepts clothes from the, bathes himself out of their sight,
annoints himsefl with olive oil, and appears before them as a handsome
man. Athene sheds grace on him to make him appear more handsome than he
14. Does Nausicaa agree to help him? What advice does she give him?
A. Yes, she gives him clothes and olive oil.
B. He is to walk behind the cart with the maidens on the way to the
city; however, when they reach the city, he must stay in a grove of
Athene¹s while the girls enter the town and return to the palace because
if the Phaeacians saw young, unmarried girls with a strange man, they
would gossip and be angry.
C. When Odysseus thinks they have reached the palace, he is to then
enter the city, go straight to the palace of Alcinous, enter, and clasp
the knees of Arete, her mother, and ask her for hlep. If Arete accepts
him, her father will.
15. What does this tell us about the status of women in this society?
A. Some women, like Areete, do have influence in affirs of state.
16. How does Book VI end?
A. Odysseus is waiting in Athene¹s grove outside the city of the
Phaeacians and praying to Athene for help.
1. How does Athene help Odysseus get safely through the Phaeacian town
and into the palace?
A. She ³shed a deep mist about Odysseus...² And she even led him to the
2. Why does Athene do this for him?
A. It is dangerous. Stragners are suspect in this chaotic world. The
Phaeacians ³do not gladly suffer strangers, nor lovingly entreat who so
cometh from a strange land.²
3. What kind of people are the Phaeacians?
A. They are sea-farers with speedy, swift ships.
They have assemblies for the heroes among them.
They are renowned mariners of the sea.
They have a city and some paths.
They also till fields.
They have women who are cunning at the loom.
Arete, a woman, is treated equally with the men.
The palace has much bronze, silver, and gold ornaments.
4. Where does Athene go when she leaves Odysseus?
A. To Marathon and wide-wayed AThens, to the house of Erechtheus, king
of Athens. Athens has always been Athene¹s city.
5. As Homer describes Phaeacia, what does it resemble?
A. The garden of Eden with its idealism. Fruit trees are in abundance,
the palace is outstanding, the men are intelligent and handsome, the
women intelligent and skilled in women¹s crafts, and there is plenty to
6. What now does Odysseus do?
A. Goes to Arete, clasps her knees, flatters her unmercifully, and asks
7. After being received hospitably, what does Odysseus agree to do?
A. Tell his story.
8. What do the Phaeacians agree to do?
A. Help Odysseus get back home to Ithaca.
9. How much of his story does he tell before they retire for the night?
A. Of his seven year stay with Calypso on the island of Ogygia; of his
voyage to Phaeacia. Of how Nausicaa found him.
10. Odysseus is very careful in telling the part about Nausicaa. Why?
A. He wants to castNO aspersions on the character of this young girl.
He makes the point that she behaved herself properly at all times.
11. What offer does Alcinous make Odysseus?
A. That he may live among them and amrry his daughter Nausicaa. He
wants Odysseus to make up his own mind. He will not force him.
12. How does this Book VII end?
A. They are retire for the night.
1. Alcinous calls an assembly of the Phaeacians. What does this tell us
about this society? What other things do we know of them?
A. They are a democratic society.
They have no weapons, bows and arrows.
The country is at peace; it has ideal rulers.
2. What does this great king Alcinous sit on as he presides over this
A. On polished stones.
3. Do many people attend the assembly and why?
A. Yes. They are having dances, games, and they want to hear Odysseus¹
4. A minstrel sings for the group. What are his songs about?
A. About Odysseus and Achilles quarreling at Troy and how this made
Agamemnon glad. The minstrel is again blind like Homer is.
5. How did Odysseus react to this song?
A. He covered hsi head and made moan.
6. Wh¹at do the Phaeacians do for amusement?
A. Put on the first Olympics. They content with each other in running,
wrestling, leaping, weight-throwing, and boxing.
7. Why does Odysseus content, too? What are the resluts?
A. Euryalus provokes him by calling him a pirate. He says Odysseus
doesn¹t look like one who could content in sports.
B. Odysseus is angry and then he brags how he was among the foremost in
games when young. Then he grabs a stone and throws it farther than
8. What is the minstrel¹s next song?
A. Of how Hephaestus, god of fire and forge, caught his wife Aphrodite,
goddess of love and beauty, in bed with Ares, god of War. Helphaestus
caught them in the act and put a net around them and hung them up for
all to see their adultery.
9. What does this tell us about the gods?
A. They set a poor example for humans. There is adultery in heaven as
well as on earth.
10. What stranger¹s girft does Odysseus get from the Phaecians?
A. Each man is required to give him a fresh robeand doublet and a talent
of fine gold. Quite a fortune. Euryalus apolgizes to Odysseus and to
show his sincerity, gives him a sword. Alcinous gives him a golden
chalice, a coffer, and a robe and doublet.
11. What is the next song sung by the bard?
A. Of the Trojan horse. How the Trojans debated three choices: cleave
it asunder, throw it over the cliff, or leave it as an offering to
appease the gods. They chose to appease the gods. In the night the
Acheans poured from the horse and sacked, burned, and pillaged the great
city of Troy.
12. At last the Phaecians ask three things of Odysseus. Does he comply?
A. "What is the name whereby the called thee at home, even thy father
and thy mother."
"Tell me too of thy land, thy township, and thy city..."
"But come now, declare me this and plainly tell it all; whither wast
thou borne wandering, and to what sores of men thou camest; tell me of
the people and of their fair-lying cities, of those whosso are hard and
wild and unjust, and of those likewise who are hospitable and of a
god-fearing mind. Declare me, too, wherefore thou dost weep and mourn
in the spirit at the tale of fairing of the Argive Danaans and the lay
B. Odysseus stands to tell his tale.
1. How does Odysseus introduce himself?
A. ³I am Odysseus, son of Laertes, who am in men¹s minds for all manner
of wiles, and my fame reaches into heaven.²
B. ³I dwell in the clear-seen Ithaca.²
2. How does he describe his homeland of Ithaca?
A. ³...a rugged isle but a good nurse of noble youths; and for myself I
can see nought beside sweeter than a man¹s own country.²
3. Describe the first place Odysseus visited after he left Troy.
A. Odysseus sailed north from Tenedos to the land of Ismarus to the
people called the Cicones. He sacked their city, slew the men, and
carried off the women to the beach for a party.
Land of the Cicones (they have many civilized things)
They had a city
They had loyal neighbors to help then.
They fear strangers
They had a priest and temple to Apollo
They fought with spears
They made wine
4. Why did Odysseus and his twelve ships stop here in Ismarus? Why
didn¹t they sail directly for home? Their ships are filled with loot
A. They wanted more loot and treasure and adventure.
5. How many ships does Odysseus have at this time? How many men does he
lose in Ismaurs?
A. Twelve ships.
B. Seventy-two men were slain by the Cicones
6. Why did such a castastrophe happen?
A. Odysseus warned his men to leave immediately after sacking the city.
But his men had carried off women and had drunk much wine; they are out
of control. They want a party on the beach. The Cicones spring a
surprise attack on them in the morning and bring allies from the hills
to help them. They fight all day and finally drive Odysseus and his men
to their ships. Odysseus has to leave his seventy-two slain on the
beach and flee.
7. What impression do we get of Odysseus from this encounter?
A. He is a pirate and a water of cities. It is not a very pretty
picture of our hero.
8. Odysseus saisls for home and Ithaca. How then does he wind up on the
north coast of Africa?
A. He was rounding Cape Malea when the wave and the stream and the sea
and the North Wind drove him wandering over the sea for nine days to
Africa and to the Land of the Lotus-Eaters.
9. Describe the Land of the Lotus-Eaters.
A. People are friendly.
They eat a flowery-food from the lotus plant.
They seem to livea pleasant drug-filled life.
Odysseus¹ men eat the lotus and will not leave this place.
10. Realistically, do you blame Odysseus¹ men?
A. After nine days on a storm-wracked sea, maybe we would not want to
journey onward either.
11. How does Odysseus get them aboard ship?
A. He personally dragged each and every man aboard and tied them to the
ship and they sailed on guided by the stars. But he is now off course
and groping his way over unknown seas.
12. Where is their next landfall?
A. Land of the Cyclopes (Sicily)
13. Describe the land of the Cyclopes.
A. It is the worst place Odysseus lands. They are uncivilized.
The Cyclopes are cannibals; they eat human flesh.
They do not reverence the gods.
They adhere to no civilized rules of hospitality.
They know no judgment or justice and have no laws.
They plant no crops nor plough any soil.
Wheat, barley, and vines grow wild.
They (Cyclopes) live in hollow caves in hillsides.
They hvae no assemblies, no councils, no law.
Each utters his own law to his children.
They do not socialize with one another.
They have no ships or shipwrights.
They have no cities or roads.
Across from the Cyclopes is an island with many wild goats.
They do tend flocks of sheep, make why and cheese.
14. How does Odysseus describe the Cyclopes physically?
A. ³Like a wooded peak of the towering hills, which stands out apart and
alone from others.²
15. How does Odysseus and his men come into contact with a Cyclopes?
A. He with some of his men took some wine and corn and came to a cave.
No one was home. They found cheeses, vessels with whey, and young
animals. His men wanted to leave, but Odysseus wanted a stranger¹s gift
so they stayed until the Cyclopes returned.
16. When the Cyclopes returns home, how does he greet Odysseus and his
A. ³Strangers, who are ye? Whence sail ye over the wet ways?²
He wanted to know if they were pirates.
17. Why is this bad-mannered?
A. Rules of hospitality require that one feed strangers and then
18. What does Odysseus ask of the Cyclopes? What information does the
A. For a stranger¹s gift.
B. Cyclopes wants to know where their ship is moored.
19. What atrocious thing does the Cyclopes do next that horrifies
Odysseus and his men?
A. Laid hands on two of Odysseus¹ men, bashed their brains out on the
earth, and ate them raw.
20. Why don¹t Odysseus and his men run from the cave?
A. They cannot leave. The giant has the entrance blocked with a stone
ordinary men cannot move.
21. What happens the next morning when the giant awakens?
A. He eats two more men and leaves with his flock of sheep; however he
again bars the entrance with the huge rock.
22. What plan does Odysseus devise?
A. To blind the Cyclopes while he sleeps.
23. When the Cyclopes comes home, what does he do?
A. Eats two more men.
24. When Odysseus gives him wine and makes him drunk, what stranger¹s
gift does the Cyclopes give Odysseus?
A. He tells him he will eat him last.
25. What name has Odysseus given the Cyclopes?
A. Odysseus has told him that his name is NOBODY.
26. How do they blind the giant?
A. they heata stake white hot and thrust it into his one eye while he
lies in a drunken stupor from the wine.
27. When the giant rages and yells and other Cyclopes come to see what
is the matter, who does Polyphemus says blinded him that gets them to
A. Polyphemus says that NOBODY has blinded him and the other Cyclopes
28. What then does Odysseus do to get his men out of the cave?
A. He ties his men and himself to the bellies of the sheep. The
Cyclopes lets them out but only feels the backs of the sheep. He is too
stupid to check their underbellies.
29. What do these incidents tell us about Odysseus?
A. He is clever.
30. Did Odysseus leave well enough alone and sail away?
A. No, when he is safely in his ships and sailing away, he taunts
Polyphemus by saying, ³Cyclopes, if any one of mortal men shall ask thee
of thy unsightly blinding of thine eye, sat it was Odysseus that blinded
31. What does the Cyclopes do?
A. Throws rocks at the ships; he almost sank them. Odysseus barely got
away for all his boasting.
32. What does the Cyclops ask of his father Poseidon?
A. To see to it that Odysseus and his men never get home. If it is
ordained that they get home, see to it that it is a late homecoming.
33. Questions to discuss with class over this chapter.
A. Odysseus, a civilized man, blinded an uncivilized man savage. Could
he have found a better way?
B. Is Poseidon justified in driving Odysseus wandering for ten years
because of this incident?
C. Why didn¹t Poseidon kill Odysseus also?
A. It is ordained Odysseus will reach home eventually.
D. What do Odysseus¹ actions reveal about Achaean men?
A. They like to brag. They admire cleverness.
1. After leaving the Cyclopes, where is Odysseus¹ next landfall?
A. Isle of Aeolian where Aeolus, king of the Winds is ruler.
2. Describe Aeolia and its civilization.
A. Aeolus has married his sons to his daughters. He has six each. They
feast evermore; house is full of savour of feasting. They sleep in huge
bedsteads. They have a city, goodly dwelling, a government. They are
hospitable. It appears to be civilized but rather unhealthy what with
incest and feasting.
3. How long was Odysseus and company there?
A. One month.
4. What does Aeolus do for Odyssseus when he asks to leave?
A. He gave him an escort and provisions. He gave him a bag of the winds
so they would not hinder him on his homeward way.
5. Does Odysseus get home to Ithaca?
A. He is within sight of Ithaca when his men open his bag of the winds
thinking he is hiding gold and silver in it; they are blown back to
6. Does Odysseus get home to Itahca?
A. Aeolous sends him on his way. He will help him no more.
7. Odysseus sails north up the west coast of what is now Italy. Where
is his next landfall?
A. Land of the Laestrygonians.
8. Describe the Laestrygonian civilization.
A. It has a harbor with steep cliffs on both sides. It has a level
road; has a city, queen, princess, a government. King is Antiphates,
they have wells from which they draw water, a palace and and an assembly
place., and they were also cannibals and ate human flesh.
9. Does Odysseus go himself to explore this land?
A. No. He moors his ship outside the harbor and sends his other eveln
ships into the harbor. He wants to see what will happen. He is
becoming wary of people in these strange lands. This is supposed to
show Odysseus¹ cleverness; but it is also a bit cowardly to allow his
men to do the dirty work.
10. What happens to the men who went to see King Antipates in
A. The king grabbed one of the men and began to eat him. The other men
run for the ships.
11. What do the Laestrygonians do?
A. They sink the eveln ships in their harbor by throwing huge rocks on
them from the high cliffs. Then they spear the men like fish and
prepare to eat them.
12. Does Odysseus help his men?
A. He loses eleven ships her and many men. He sails away. He thought
about helping his men but decided against it. They were outnumbered.
13. Where do they land next?
A. On Circe¹s island, an enchantress¹ island.
14. How do they decide who will ferret out this new land?
A. They draw lots. (His men are catching on)
15. Describe the civilization.
A. She lives in a forest glade. Circe¹s home is built of polished
stone. Wild animals abound all around her home; they do not hurt
anyone. She has four handmaidens to wait on her. She spends her time
weaving a great web on her loom. She is hospitable and welcomes
16. What does she do to the men?
A. She gave them drugged wine and turned them into swine.
17. What is the moral here?
A. Odysseus¹ men drank until they were drunk. They are acting like
animals so let them become swine.
18. How does Odysseus find out about what happened?
A. Eurylochus, one of his men, did not enter Circe¹s abode. He waited
outside to see what happened. He then reported what happened to
19. Odysseus forces Circe to turn his men back into men. How?
A. Hermes, messenger god, helps him by giving him an herb of virtue
called MOLY. With this he combats Circe¹s influence. Circe tells
Odysseus that he has a mind that cannot be enchanted.
20. How long does Odysseus stay with Circe in her enchanted isle,
feasting on abundant flesh and sweet wine?
A. One year.
21. What does Circe symbolize?
A. Sensualness, ease, luxury, forgetfullness; she is a beautiful woman,
one of the most tempting things a man faces.
22. Who reminds Odysseus that he must continue to try to get home?
A. His men.
23 What does Circe tell Odysseus he must do before he can go home?
A. Visit Hades, the Underworld, to seek the spiriti of Theban Tieresias.
The North wind will take him there.
24. What must he do so Tieresias will speak to him?
A. Kill a ram and an ewe when he gets to Hades; he is not to allow the
other dead spirits to drink the blood until he speaks to Tieresias..
25. What information will Tieresias give Odysseus?
A. How he can get home.
26. What happened to Elpenor, one of Odysseus¹ men, just as they are
about to leave for Hades?
A. Elpenor is drunk and is lying on the roof of Circe¹s dwelling. He
falls off, breaks his neck, dies; his spirit immediately goes directly
27. Do Odysseus and his men leave?
A. Yes, and they do so without giving Elpenor his proper burials.
28. Does Odysseus dread going to Hades?
A. He was very sorrfowful when he was told he had to go.
1. Tell the ceremony Odysseus performs before he can speak with
Tieresias, seer of Thebes.
A. They must journey to shadowy land of Cimmeranians. Odysseus digs a
pit a cubit in lenght and breadth. Abou tthe pit he poured a drink
offering to all the dead, first of mead, then wine, then water. He then
sprinkles white meal thereon. Prays to the dead and promises when he
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