The Odyssey

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Book 1 - Introduction

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The Father of Athena
  1. Homer opens the book with an invocation which is a prayer.
  2. Odysseus is 20 years older than when he first left for the war in Troy.
  3. Odysseus has been kept on the island Ogygia by the nymph, Calypso, who wants Odysseus for herself.
  4. Athena begs her father, Zeus, to allow Odysseus to go home to Ithaca.
  5. Poseidon, the god of the sea in Greek mythology, is angry with Odysseus for injuring his son.
  6. Hermes is sent to Ogygia to command Calypso to free Odysseus.
  7. Athena goes to help Telemachus, Odysseus's son, with a problem at home.
  8. The problem Telemachus faces is his home is overrun by men who are demanding to marry his mother, Penelope.
  9. Penelope, Odysseus's wife, has been waiting for him to come home.
  10. What are the three themes of the epic?
    • A boy must struggle to become a man (Telemachus)
    • A soldier must struggle to return home from war (Odyssey)
    • A king must struggle to reclaim a kingdom (Ithaca)
  11. Athena arrives in Ithaca disguised a as a family friend named Mentor. (+ DRAMATIC IRONY)
  12. Athena tells Telemachus that if he learns his father is alive while visiting Nestor and Menelaus, he should hold out and wait a year for his father to return.
  13. Athena tells Telemachus that if he learns his father is dead, he should burn his armor, hold a funeral and marry his mom to another man.

Book 2 - Telemachus Confronts his Suitors

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  1. Telemachus tries to be "his father's son" by telling the suitors he resents how his family, especially his mom, is being treated.
  2. Antinous, the most arrogant suitor, demands that Penelope is to be blamed and must marry one of them.
  3. Antinous blames Penelope for tricking the suitors by weaving and unweaving a burial shroud for Lord Laertes.
  4. Athena encourages Telemachus by saying you will never be fainthearted or fooled.
  5. Telemachus is worried about his mom as he sails to find his father.

Book 3 - The Visit to Nestor

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  1. Telemachus arrives at the island of Pylos, the land of King Nestor.
  2. King Nestor's opinion of Odysseus is nothing but praise.
  3. King Nestor tells Telemachus that Athena loves Odysseus.
  4. Athena tells Telemachus a god can save a man simply by wishing for it.

Book 4 - The Visit to Menalus and Helen

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  1. Nestor sends Telemachus to Sparta to visit King Menelaus and Helen.
  2. When Menelaus and Telemachus are talking at first, Menelaus doesn't realize that he is talking to Odysseus's son. (+ DRAMATIC IRONY)
  3. Telemachus responds to Menelaus's kind recollection of Odysseus by crying.
  4. After Helen recognizes Telemachus as Odysseus's son, they tell him Odysseus is living with a nymph, Calypso, and that he longs for a way to come home.
  5. In Ithaca, while Telemachus has been away, the suitors are planning to ambush and kill Telemachus.

Conclusion of Books 1-4

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  1. What problems will the suitors cause Telemachus?
    • Destroying Telemachus' home and inheritance -- bringing into question of Penelope's safety
  2. How does the setting of the island kingdom of Ithaca help develop the plot of the story?
    • Poseidon is angry with Odysseus, so he can't go to his home, let alone live there. Also, people don't know about Ithaca and Odysseus's house problems, so nobody is helping.
  3. How is the theme "a young man trying to fill his father's footsteps" beginning to develop in Books 1-4?
    • Telemachus is following his footsteps by being courageous and taking responsibility to find him. He tries to do what his father would do by protecting his mom and kingdom and standing up against the suitors.

Book 5-8 Summary Worksheet

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  1. What happens in Book 5 after Calypso releases Odysseus at Zeus's request (through Hermes)?
    • After Calypso releases Odysseus, Odysseus leaves the island on a raft. Poseidon, his enemy, sets a tremendous storm, causing Odysseus to barely make it out alive when he was washed ashore on a random island. After this episode, he finds an olive tree and falls asleep.
  2. In Book 6, who is the first person Odysseus meets? What is she doing?
    • Odysseus meets Princess Nausicaa of the Phaeacians. She was washing her wedding dress.
  3. Where does she take Odysseus?
    • To the main town.
  4. In Book 7, why is Odysseus amazed when he arrives at the palace?
    • He is amazed because the palace is very beautiful.
  5. Who does Odysseus ask for help when he arrives? Why does the king agree to help Odysseus? What does the king promise?
    • Odysseus asks the queen for help; The king agrees to help Odysseus because he knows better than to refuse hospitality for someone like Odysseus; The king promises him a safe passage home after a day of entertainment.
  6. In Book 8, what activities are planned for Odysseus's holiday? Why does the king agree to help Odysseus?
    • Athletic events (foot races, wrestling, and discus); He reacts in anger when he is questioned about his abilities and he throws the disc with great force.
  7. What event causes the king to ask Odysseus about his identity?
    • The king asks Odysseus's identity because he [Odysseus] sobs at the Trojan War songs.

Book 9 - The Lotus Eaters and the Cyclops

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  1. Alcinous's call to have Odysseus reveal his identity is a cue for Odysseus to begin telling the adventures that will make his name.
  2. Odysseus proves his love for Penelope by saying he never gave consent when having sex with Circe.
  3. After many problems, Odysseus says he and his men land on the land of the Lotus Eaters.
  4. The lotus plant is supposed to produce feelings of dreaminess and laziness.
  5. After they landed, Odysseus sent two men out to find out who lives there.
  6. The Lotus Eaters offered sweet lotus to the men and they reacted to it by not wanting to leave or go home to Ithaca.
  7. After dragging the men back to the ship, Odysseus tells his men to return to the ship, then set sail for a new land.
  8. Odysseus is the cleverest of the ancient Greek heroes because the mythological "god", Athena (of wisdom), is his guardian.
  9. Polyphemus is said to represent the brute force and negative singleness of purpose (to do bad).
  10. Curiosity caused Odysseus to go into the Cyclops cave.
  11. Odysseus is in the Cyclops's cave when the Cyclops returns with his ewes.
  12. Odysseus tells the Cyclops that it is Zeus will to have him wander the seas.
  13. Odysseus tells the Cyclops that it is a custom to honor strangers or Zeus will avenge offending guests.
  14. When the Cyclops asks Odysseus where his ship is, Odysseus lies by saying that his ship got destroyed by Poseidon by the rocks on the shore.
  15. For dinner, the Cyclops grabs two men and eats them.
  16. In the morning, the Cyclops tends to his ewes and then eating more men.
  17. The Cyclops traps the men in the cave every day by resetting a great door slab in front of the cave.
  18. Once the Cyclops leaves, Odysseus plots his revenge and escape route by making a spear.
  19. That night, Odysseus offers the Cyclops some wine and once the Cyclops become drunk, he tells the Cyclops that his name is Nobody which is pronounced like Nobody.
  20. The Cyclops promises Odysseus the gift of eating all the others first.
  21. After Polyphemus passes out from drinking, Odysseus attacks him.
  22. While Polyphemus is yelling in pain, he wakes the other Cyclops in caves nearby who begin to ask him: What ails you? Polyphemus responds: Nobody has tricked and ruined me. How has Odysseus's false identity helped him?
    • When the Cyclops says that "Nobody" is tricking and ruining him, the other cyclops think there is literally "NOBODY" tricking him.
  23. Odysseus and his men are able to escape the cave by tying themselves to 3 different rams, the men hiding in the biggest stomach.
  24. Odysseus yells back to the Cyclops as they sail away from the island that Zeus and the other mythological "gods" paid them for eating the guests.
  25. The Cyclops, in response, threw a hilltop at Odysseus's ship causing a huge wave to nearly throw them back to the island.
  26. Odysseus reveals his true identity to Polyphemus. He tries to trick Odysseus to return to shore by lying that he will take care of him and tell his dad to treat him well.
  27. When Odysseus refuses, the Cyclops prays to his father Poseidon and asks that he makes sure Odysseus never goes home or if he does, let him be the only survivor who returns on another boat to trouble at home after many years.

Book 10 - The Bag of Winds and the Witch Circe

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  1. Once they sail away from Polyphemus and the islands of the Cyclops, Odysseus and his men land next on the island Aeolia.
  2. Odysseus meets Aeolus who does a favor for Odysseus which is placing all the stormy winds in a bag.
  3. During the voyage back to Ithaca, suspicion and curiosity causes the men to open the bag against Odysseus's orders.
  4. After opening the bag, the evil winds roar into a hurricane to blow them back out to sea within seeing-distance of Ithaca.
  5. After more men are killed and devoured by the Laestrygonians. Odysseus's ship lands on the island Aeaea, the home of the witch Circe.
  6. When they first see Circe they are unsure of whether she is a goddess or a woman. All but Eurylochus go to meet her.
  7. Odysseus finds it strange that the lions and wolves don't attack.
  8. Circe gives the men a feast along with some wine while in her palace. It causes the men to loose desire to go home, Ithaca. It turns the men into pigs.
  9. As Odysseus runs to help his men, Hermes, the messenger of the Gods, gives him a molu. It will act as an antidote to Circe's power.
  10. After Circe is overcome with the magic, she tells Odysseus to stay and restore his heart.

Book 11 - The Land of the Dead

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  1. Elpenor asks Odysseus to return and give him a proper burial

Book 12 - The Sirens, Scylla, and Charybdis

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  1. Circe is speaking and warning Odysseus of the perils that lie ahead of him.
  2. Circe warns Odysseus that the Sirens, which are crying beauties who bewitch men, are in his ship's path.
  3. Circe warns Odysseus that he will not see Penelope or Telemachus ever again if he listens to the sound of the Sirens.
  4. In order to make it past the Sirens, Odysseus must plug the ears of his men.
  5. Circe tells Odysseus if he wants to hear the songs, he must tie himself to the mast of a ship.
  6. Scylla can best be described as monstrous with 12 tentacles and 6 heads.
  7. Circe warns that no ship can claim to pass her without the loss of 6 men.
  8. Circe says Odysseus and his ship should avoid Charybdis (whirlpool) because he will lose his entire ship. (stuck between a rock and a hard place)
  9. Circe tells Odysseus to go towards the monster Scylla because she will only take six of his men instead of his entire ship and crew.
  10. The men sail off, but Odysseus never tells the men about the last prophecy.
  11. Odysseus warns his men of the songs of the Sirens and says he should be the only one to hear the song.
  12. As the ship gets closer to the Sirens, Odysseus puts beeswax in his men's ears, and the men in return tie him to the mast of the ship.
  13. Odysseus responds to the singing by demanding to be untied, but he can't because his men continue to tie him tighter.
  14. After they pass the Siren's island, Odysseus sees and hears smoke and water.
  15. Odysseus tries to encourage his men by stating, "had been never in danger like this".
  16. As they sail, Odysseus and his men are afraid of being eaten by Charybdis as she sucks in the water.
  17. Odysseus stayed closer to Scylla as he had been warned to avoid Charybdis so he wouldn't lose his entire ship and crew.
  18. Odysseus and his men head toward Thracian island as he remembers the warnings from both Circe and Tiresias ("prophet").
  19. Odysseus's men disobey his orders by eating the sacred cattle on Helios's island.
  20. When they set sail again, Zeus punishes the men by wrecking their boat with a thunderbolt.
  21. Odysseus is the only survivor and he makes his way to the island Loggia and the nymph Calypso.

Book 13-20 Summary Worksheet

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  1. After Odysseus tells of his adventures from Books 9-12, Alcinous has him returned to Ithaca. Why doesn't Odysseus know where he is when he awakes?
    • Athena casts a protective mist, which prevents him from recognizing his homeland.
  2. In Book 14, who is Eumaeus? What does he do for Odysseus?
    • Eumaeus is a swineherd who gives Odysseus a comfy seat, throwing his own bedcover over a pile of boughs, food (prime boar, bread and wine), and a place to sleep (by a fire under Eumaeus's cloak).
  3. In Book 15, what does Odysseus learn about Eumaeus? Why is Odysseus so close with him?
    • Odysseus learns that Eumaeus, after being kidnapped by his nursemaid, was bought by his own father and raised as a member of the family. Odysseus feels close to him because his father's wife treated him like a family member.
  4. Why is Telemachus able to avoid the ambush set up by Antinous?
    • Athena notified him about it before the attack
  5. In Book 16, what happens between Telemachus and Odysseus?
    • Telemachus meets up with Odysseus (who is still looking like an old beggar). Then Athena restores Odysseus's normal appearance, which makes Telemachus think he is a god. Odysseus reveals that he is no god and that he is Telemachus's dad who has returned. They both hug and after that, they planned their attack against the suitors.
  6. In Book 17, Odysseus is poorly treated by two men. Who are they and what do they do?
    • Odysseus is first poorly treated by Melantheus, who curses and tries to trick him. Then Odysseus is poorly treated by Antinous, who refuses him food and even throws his footstool at Odysseus's back.
  7. Describe the encounter Odysseus has with Irus in Book 18.
    • Odysseus meets Irus, the beggar who runs errands for the suitors. Irus tells him to leave, but Odysseus refuses to leave. Irus threatens fists and the suitors incite Irus to do so. Odysseus accepts the challenge and rolls up his tunic into a boxer's belt, revealing big muscles in which he suitors gaze upon. Odysseus, not wanting to kill Irus, breaks his jaw.
  8. Who is Eurycleia? What makes her interaction with Odysseus so special?
    • Eurycleia is Penelope's maid; Eurycleia was Odysseus's nurse when he was a child. She notices a scar around his knee. She recognizes the scar to be from a wild boar attack when Odysseus was hunting on Mt. Parnassus as a young man. She realizes this and she lets Odysseus know that she remembers him, but Odysseus silences her so that she doesn't ruin Odysseus's plan.
  9. Give two examples of foreshadowing (clues that give the reader hints of what is to come) that occur in the summary for Book 20.
    1. Zeus's clap of thunder from the clear blue sky and as a result: A servant prays that the day that Zeus's calp of thunder is revealed is the last day of the suitors' abuse.
    2. A Greek-mythological prophet, who was a murderer and befriended Telemachus, shares a vision with the suitors that the walls will be dripping with their blood.

Book 21

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  1. Penelope proposes an impossible task for those who wish to marry her.
  2. Penelope's task causes the bloody events which leads to the restoration of her true husband.
  3. The test will involve Odysseus's huge bow, which no one but Odysseus himself can string.
  4. Penelope reacts to holding Odysseus's bow by crying.
  5. The reason Penelope says the suitors give for eating and feasting in Odysseus's home is they forget who Odysseus is because he has been gone for so long.
  6. Penelope says she will marry the man who can string the bow and shoot an arrow through 12 ox-helve sockets.
  7. Odysseus asks his herdsman and swineherd if you are on Odysseus's side or on the suitors?
  8. The herdsman responds by saying let the master come home.
  9. Odysseus reveals himself to the herdsmen and promises marriages to both and he will build houses near the palace if Zeus allows Odysseus to bring down the suitors.
  10. Odysseus shows the men the scar on his leg to prove his identity.
  11. The orders Odysseus gives the men are to
    • Give him the bow
    • Tell the women to lock themselves in a room
    • Tell women not to leave no matter what they hear
    • Lock the outer gate
  12. Odysseus gets the bow because Penelope insists he has a chance.
  13. Earlier, Odysseus told Telemachus to remove the suitor's weapons from the great hall.
  14. Odysseus proves he can string the bow, causing a hush to fall over the suitors.

Book 22

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  1. Odysseus must deal with more than 100 suitors before he can reclaim his kingdom.
  2. Odysseus aims at Antinous, the meanest of the suitors first.
  3. Antinous is not worried because he thinks that he is just a beggar.
  4. After Antinous is dead, the suitors realize that they don't stand a chance.
  5. All the suitors have left is death at Odysseus's hands.
  6. Eurymachus tries to save his own life by saying they will repay him with money.
  7. Odysseus refuses this request by saying not for the treasure of your fathers.
  8. During the fighting, Athena's shield (meausa) took form in the great hall.
  9. After the suitors have died, Odysseus orders the unfaithful maids to clean up the blood and dispose the bodies.
  10. He then repays them for their wrongdoings by hanging them.

Book 23

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  1. Eurycleia runs to Penelope to tell her the return of Odysseus and the defeat of the suitors.
  2. Penelope suspects a trick from the gods and decides to test Odysseus (would-be husband).
  3. When Penelope first looks at him, she studies him because she wants to know if it is him.
  4. Telemachus questions his mother by saying why are you not talking to him?
  5. Penelope tells Telemachus she will know it is Odysseus because they have secrets only they know.
  6. Athena helps Odysseus by making him taller and massive.
  7. Penelope tells Eurycleia to bronze Odysseus's bed.
  8. The bed can't be moved because only a man with certain powers can move.
  9. The secret between them is they know that he is Odysseus.