The Odyssey Study Guide (Books 1-8)
A. Odysseus Captive, Suitors Invade i. All Greek heroes return home, except Odysseus ii. Odysseus held captive on island Ogygia by Calypso, who loves him iii. Suitors invade palace in Ithica hoping to marry Queen Penelope iv. Prince Telemachus still a young man and powerless to stop suitors B. Athena Helps, Penelope Mourns i. With Zeus’s permission, Athena travels to Ithica to help Telemachus ii. Athena disguises herself as old friend Mentes and says Odysseus is alive and will soon return home to Ithica iii.
Athena then tells Telemachus to assemble the suitors and banish them iv. Penelope hears the bard sing a song about the Greek’s suffering on their return from Troy, making her even more miserable v. Telemachus scolds her saying other Greeks did not return home vi. Telemachus then tells her that he will handle the suitors himself C. Telemachus Banishes, Suitors Refuse, Telemachus Suspects Athena’s Helping i. Penelope returns to her rooms, Telemachus announces the assembly to banish the suitors ii. Suitors refuse to leave and scold Telemachus for his insolence iii.
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Antinous and Eurychamus were two particularly defiant suitors iv. They ask the identitiy of the visitor, Mentes, Athena in disguise v. Telemachus suspects Mentes is Athena, but says Mentes is family friend II. BOOK 2 A. Assembly Begins, Telemachus Gives Speech, Antinous Argues i. Aegyptius, Ithacan elder, speaks first at first assembly since Odysseus left ii. Telemachus gives speech about loss of Odysseus and his home, the suitors invasion of the palace and says a decent man would ask father for her hand iii. Antinous blames Penelope who still has not chosen a husband iv.
Antinous reminds assembly of Penelope’s funeral shroud trick, in which Penelope said she would choose a husband after she finished weaving funeral shroud only to unravel it each night so it would never be finished v. Antinous says send Penelope to her father Icarius, he can choose husband B. Telemachus Defends Penelope, Eagles Fight, Bad Omen for Suitors i. Telemachus refuses to throw out his own mother Penelope ii. Telemachus then calls upon the gods to punish greedy suitors iii. Just then, a pair of eagles locked in combat appear just above them iv. Soothsayer Halitherses interprets eagles fighting as sign from gods v.
He says it means Odysseus will come back and will massacre suitors if they don’t leave before his return vi. Suitors do not believe soothsayer and meeting ends in deadlock C. Telemachus Prepares, Athena Helps, Telemachus Comforts His Nurse i. Athena disguises herself as Mentor, another old family friend ii. Telemachus prepares for voyage and Athena encourages him iii. Athena disguises herself as Telemachus and finds him a loyal crew iv. Telemachus keeps his voyage a secret from everyone but nurse Eurycleia v. Eurycleia begs Telemachus not to sail like his father, fearing for him vi. Telemachus comforts her and says he has a god on his side
III. BOOK 3 A. Telemachus reaches Pylos, Talks to Nestor, Nestor Tells What He Knows i. At Pylos, Telemachus and Athena watch bulls sacrificed to Poseidon ii. Athena, as Mentor, advises Telemachus on how to approach King Nestor iii. Nestor went with Menelaus after Troy, Odysseus stayed with Agamemnon iv. Menelaus and Agamemnon brothers, but had a falling out after Troy v. Nestor hopes Athena shows Telemachus kindness as she showed his father vi. Nestor sympathizes about suitors and says he hopes Telemachus gains glory in defense of his father as Orestes did for his father, Agamemnon B.
Telemachus Asks About Agamemnon i. Telemachus asks Nestor what happened to Agamemnon ii. Nestor explains what happened between Agamemnon and Aegisthus iii. Agamemnon found Aegisthus, who stayed at home while others went to war, had seduced and married his Agamemnon’s wife Clytemnestra iv. Clytemnestra approves of Aegisthus’s murdering Agamemnon v. Aegisthus would have taken over the kingdom if Orestes (Agamemnon’s son who was exile in Athens) had not killed Aegisthus and Clytemnestra vi. Nestor says Orestes is good example for Telemachus C. Nestor Sends His Son Pisistratus With Them, Athena Reveals Herself i.
Nestor sends son Pisistraus with Telemachus and they leave by land ii. Athena reveals divinity by changing in to eagle in front of entire court iii. Athena stays behind to guard and protect Telemachus’s ship and crew IV. BOOK 4 A. Marriages in Sparta, Stories About Odysseus i. King Menelaus and Queen Helen celebrating marriages of their children ii. They recognize Telemachus because he looks so much like Odysseus iii. During feast, king and queen tell of Odysseus’s cunning at Troy a. Odysseus dressed as a beggar to infiltrate city walls b. Odysseus used Trojan horse to sneak Greeks into Troy v. Menelaus talks about his own return from Troy v. He was stranded in Egypt and forced to capture Proteus, Old Man of Sea vi. Proteus told Menelaus how to get back to Sparta vii. Proteus told him about Agamemnon and Ajax, another Greek hero who survived Troy but died after he returned to Greece viii. Proteus told him that Odysseus was imprisoned by Calypso on her island ix. Encouraged by this, Telemachus and Pisistratus head back home B. Suitors Plan Ambush, Penelope Fears For Her Son, Athena Comforts Penelope i. Suitors find out about Telemachus’s voyage, plan to kill him ii.
Medon, a herald, tells Penelope about suitors planned assassination iii. Penelope fears she will lose her son as she lost her husband iv. Athena sends a phantom in form of Penelope’s sister Ipthime and reassures Penelope that Athena will protect Telemachus V. BOOK 5 A. Gods Gather, Calypso Releases Odysseus i. All gods except Poseidon gather to decide Odysseus’s fate ii. Athena’s speech convinces Zeus to help Odysseus iii. Zeus sends Hermes to Ogygia to tell Calypso to release Odysseus iv. Calypso complains that male gods can have affairs, but females can’t v. She finally reluctantly releases Odysseus vi.
Calypso helps him build a boat and gives him supplies for his voyage B. Odysseus Spots Scheria, Poseidon Sends Storm, Ino and Athena Rescue Odysseus i. After 18 days at sea, Odysseus sees Scheria, Island of the Phaeacians ii. Poseidon returns, realizes Odysseus has been freed, and sends a storm iii. Odysseus almost drowns, but goddess Ino rescues him iv. She gives him a protective veil which he must give back when finally safe v. Athena keeps him safe as he is tossed around on the waves and rocks vi. Odysseus is safe, throws back the veil, and takes cover in a forest VI. BOOK 6 A. Nausicaa Dreams, Odysseus Meets Nausicaa, . Athena appears in Phaeacian Princess Nausicaa’s dream ii. Athena encourages Nausicaa to go to river to wash her iii. Nausicaa and handmaidens are naked and playing ball at the river iv. Odysseus wakes up and meets them, also naked himself B. Odysseus’s Secret Identity, Nausicaa Begins To Fall In Love With Odysseus i. Odysseus does not reveal who is, but takes a bath to wash himself ii. Athena makes him look especially handsome to Nausicaa iii. Nausicaa doesn’t want to cause a scene by returning with Odysseus iv. Nausicaa instructs Odysseus on path to palace and what to say to Arete v.
Odysseus prays to Athena for luck and heads to palace VII. BOOK 7 A. Athena Advises, Odysseus Approaches Royalty, Odysseus a God? i. On his way to palace, Odysseus is approached by Athena in disguise ii. Athena guides Odysseus to palace and shrouds him in a mist iii. Phaeacians are afraid of outsiders and mist keeps harassment away iv. Athena advises that Odysseus talk directly to Queen Arete, then leaves for her beloved city of Athens v. Odysseus throws himself at Arete’s feet and mist dissipates vi. King thinks Odysseus might be a god, but he says he is mortal vii. Odysseus explains his situation and king and queen give him a ship
B. Arete Recognizes Clothes, Odysseus Explains, King Offers Marriage to Daughter i. Queen Arete recognizes clothes Odysseus is wearing as her daughter’s ii. Odysseus keeps his identity secret but tells about Calypso iii. Odysseus explains that daughter gave him clothes when they met iv. Odysseus says idea to travel separately to palace was his idea v. King is so impressed with Odysseus he offers Nausicaa’s hand in marriage VIII. BOOK 8 A. King Calls Assembly, King Suggests Giving Odysseus Ship, Bard Sings of Troy i. King Alcinous calls an assembly of his Phaeacian counselors ii.
Athena returns from Athens to spread word of the godlike visitor iii. King suggests offering Odysseus a ship to return him to his homeland iv. Counselors approve and everyone feasts in celebrataion v. Blind Bard Demodocus sings about Odysseus and Achilles at Troy vi. Odysseus weeps, King notices his grief, and ends feast so games can begin B. Odysseus Joins Games, Wins Discus, Challenges Athletes, Feasts Again i. Games include boxing, wrestling, racing and throwing the discus ii. Odysseus is asked to join but he declines iii. Young athlete Broadsea insults him and goads his pride into action v. Odysseus wins discus and challenges athletes to their choice competition v. Discussion becomes heated, but King Alcinous diffuses it with more feast C. Bard Sings Again, Phaeacians Give Gifts, Odysseus Reveals Identity i. Bard sings about a tryst between Ares and Aphrodite ii. King, athletes, and Broadsea give Odysseus gifts to take home with him iii. Bard then sings about Trojan horse and the sack of Troy iv. Odysseus weeps again, King Alcinous notices his grief again, stops music v. King Alcinous demands to know who godlike visitor is, where he comes from, and where he is going