Study Guide

The Odyssey

by Homer

The Odyssey Analysis

The Poem (Critical Survey of Literature for Students)

Of the Greek heroes who survive the Trojan War only Odysseus does not return home, because he is detained by the god of the sea, Poseidon, for an offense that he committed against that god. At a conclave of the gods on Olympus, Zeus decrees that Odysseus should at last be allowed to return to his home and family in Ithaca. The goddess Athena is sent to Ithaca where, in disguise, she tells Telemachus, Odysseus’s son, that his father is alive. She advises the youth to rid his home of the great number of suitors suing for the hand of his mother, Penelope, and to go in search of his father. The suitors refuse to leave the house of Odysseus, but they give ready approval to the suggestion that Telemachus begin a quest for his father, since the venture will take him far from the shores of Ithaca.

The youth and his crew sail to Pylos, where the prince questions King Nestor concerning the whereabouts of Odysseus. Nestor, a wartime comrade of Odysseus, advises Telemachus to go to Lacedaemon, where King Menelaus can possibly give him the information he seeks. At the palace of Menelaus and Helen, for whom the Trojan War was waged, Telemachus learns that Odysseus is a prisoner of the nymph Calypso on her island of Ogygia in the Mediterranean Sea.

Zeus in the meantime sends Hermes, the messenger of the gods, to Ogygia, with orders that Calypso is to release Odysseus. When the nymph reluctantly complies, the hero constructs a boat in four days and sails away from his island prison. Poseidon, ever the enemy of Odysseus, sends great winds to destroy his boat and to wash him ashore on the coast of the Phaeacians. There he is found by Nausicaa, daughter of King Alcinoüs of the Phaeacians, when she goes down to the river mouth with her handmaidens to wash linen. When the naked Odysseus awakens and sees Nausicaa and her maidens, he asks them where he is. Frightened at first by the stranger hiding behind the shrubbery, Nausicaa soon perceives that he is no vulgar person. She tells him where he is, supplies him with clothing, and gives him food and drink. Then she conducts him to the palace of King Alcinoüs and Queen Arete. The royal pair welcome him and promise to provide him with passage to his native land. At a great feast the minstrel Demodocus sings of the Trojan War and of the hardships suffered by the returning Greeks; Alcinoüs sees that the stranger weeps during the singing. At the games that follow the banquet and songs, Odysseus is goaded by a young Phaeacian athlete into revealing his great strength. Later, at Alcinoüs’s insistence, Odysseus tells the following story of his wanderings since the war’s end.

When Odysseus left Ilium he was blown to Ismarus, the Cicones’ city, which he and his men sacked. Then they were blown by an ill wind to the land of the Lotus-eaters, where Odysseus had difficulty in getting his men to leave a slothful life of ease. Arriving in the land of the Cyclops, the one-eyed monsters who herded giant sheep, Odysseus and twelve of his men were caught by a Cyclops, Polyphemus, who ate the men one by one, saving Odysseus until last. That wily hero tricked the giant into a drunken stupor, however, and then blinded him with a sharpened pole and fled back to his ship. On an impulse, Odysseus disclosed his name to the blinded Polyphemus as he sailed away. Polyphemus called upon his father, Poseidon, to avenge him by hindering Odysseus’s return to his homeland.

Odysseus’s next landfall was Aeolia, where lived Aeolus, the god of the winds. Aeolus gave Odysseus a sealed bag containing all the contrary winds, so that they could not block his homeward voyage. However, the crew, thinking that the bag contained treasure, opened it, releasing all the winds, and the ship was blown back to Aeolia. When he learned what had happened, Aeolus was very angry that Odysseus’s men had defied the gods by opening the bag of winds. He ordered them to leave Aeolia at once and denied them any winds for their homeward journey. They rowed for six days and then came to the land of the Laestrigonians, half-men, half-giants, who plucked members of the crew from the ship and devoured them. Most managed to escape, however, and came to Aeaea, the land of the enchantress Circe. Circe changed the crew members into swine, but with the aid of the herb Moly, which Hermes gave him, Odysseus withstood Circe’s magic and forced her to change his crew back into men. Reconciled to the great leader, Circe told the hero that he could not get home without first consulting the shade of Teiresias, the blind Theban prophet. In the dark region of the Cimmerians Odysseus sacrificed sheep. Thereupon spirits from Hades appeared, among them the shade of Teiresias, who warned Odysseus to beware of danger in the land of the sun god.

On his homeward journey, Odysseus was forced to sail past the isle of the sirens, maidens who by their beautiful voices drew men to their death on treacherous rocks. By sealing the sailors’ ears with wax and by having himself tied to the ship’s mast, Odysseus passed the sirens safely. Next, he sailed into a narrow sea passage guarded by the monsters Scylla and Charybdis. Scylla’s six horrible heads seized six of the crew, but the ship passed safely through the narrow channel. On the island of the sun god, Hyperion, the starving crew slaughtered some of Hyperion’s sacred cows, despite a warning from their leader. The sun god thereupon caused the ship to be wrecked in a storm, all of the crew being lost but Odysseus, who was ultimately washed ashore on Ogygia, the island of Calypso.

When he concludes his story, Odysseus receives many gifts from Alcinoüs and Arete. They accompany him to a ship they provide for his voyage to Ithaca and bid him farewell, and the ship brings him at last to his own land.

Odysseus hides in a cave the vast treasure he receives from his Phaeacian hosts. The goddess Athena appears to him and counsels him on a plan by which he can avenge himself on the rapacious suitors of his wife. The goddess, after changing Odysseus into an old beggar, goes to Lacedaemon to arrange the return of Telemachus from the court of Menelaus and Helen.

Odysseus goes to the rustic cottage of his old steward, Eumaeus, who welcomes the apparent stranger and offers him hospitality. The faithful servant discloses the unpardonable behavior of Penelope’s suitors and tells how Odysseus’s estate was greatly reduced by their greed and love of luxury.

Meanwhile, Athena advises Telemachus to leave the ease of the Lacedaemon court and return home. On his arrival, he goes first to the hut of Eumaeus to get information from the old steward. There, Athena transforming Odysseus back to his heroic self, son and father are reunited. After pledging his son to secrecy, Odysseus describes his plan of attack. Eumaeus and Odysseus, again disguised as a beggar, go to Odysseus’s house where a meal is in progress. Reviled by the suitors, who forget that hospitality to a stranger is a practice demanded by Zeus himself, Odysseus bides his time, even when arrogant Antinous throws a stool that strikes Odysseus on the shoulder.

Odysseus orders Telemachus to lock up all weapons except a few that are to be used by his own party; the women servants are to be locked in their quarters. Penelope questions Odysseus concerning his identity but Odysseus deceives her with a fantastic tale. When Eurycleia, ancient servant of the king, washes the beggar’s feet and legs, she recognizes her master by a scar above the knee, but she does not disclose his identity.

Penelope plans an impossible feat of strength to free herself of her suitors. One day, showing the famous bow of Eurytus, and twelve battle-axes, she says that she will give her hand to the suitor who can shoot an arrow through all twelve ax handles. Telemachus, to prove his worth, attempts but fails to string the bow. One after another the suitors fail even to string the bow. Finally Odysseus asks if an old beggar might attempt the feat. The suitors laugh scornfully at his presumption. Then Odysseus strings the bow with ease and shoots an arrow through the twelve ax hafts. Throwing aside his disguise, he next shoots Antinous in the throat. There ensues a furious battle, in which all the suitors are killed by Odysseus and his small party. Twelve women servants who were sympathetic to the suitors are hanged in the courtyard. When Penelope, in her room, hears what the purported beggar did, husband and wife are happily reunited.

The Odyssey Places Discussed (Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


*Ithaca. Odysseus’s home, a mountainous island to the west of mainland Greece, and the primary setting of the first two and last twelve books of the twenty-four-book poem. The two key locations on Ithaca are the palace of Odysseus and the hut of the swineherd Eumaeus. Odysseus’s twenty-year absence has finally resulted in the palace being overrun by 108 suitors for the hand of his wife and supposed widow, Penelope. Ironically, while the greedy and disrespectful suitors have turned the formerly noble palace into a place of lawlessness and disorder, the humble hut of the apparently lowly Eumaeus exemplifies the courtesy and hospitality that the suitors fail to observe.


*Troy. City on the west coast of Asia Minor (now part of Turkey) and the site of the Trojan War, where Odysseus and the Greek armies spend ten years fighting the Trojans to recover Helen, the wife of the Greek leader Menelaus. The final year of that war serves as the focus of The Iliad (c. 800 b.c.e.; English translation, 1616), the narrative of life during wartime that serves as a companion piece to The Odyssey.


*Pylos and *Sparta. Greek kingdoms visited by Odysseus’s son, Telemachus, in books 3, 4, and 15 of the poem, which constitute a sort of miniature, parallel version of Odysseus’s much longer journey. These kingdoms also offer a contrast to Ithaca in that they are models of the proper observance of social decorum and order. Pylos is ruled by Nestor, the wisest of the Greeks, and Sparta is ruled by Menelaus, the husband of Helen, whose abduction by Paris had begun the war. His introduction to these men, both great heroes of the Trojan War, and his ability to win their approval, serve as symbolic markers of the young man’s psychological and social “voyage” from adolescence to maturity. While the “Telemachia,” as it is sometimes called, has a relatively minor plot function, it does allow for considerable exposition, as the rulers inform Telemachus about key sections of the story of Troy and Odysseus’s wanderings.


*Argos (AR-gohs). Greek home of Agamemnon, brother of Menelaus and leader of the Greek armies in the Trojan War. Agamemnon’s own homecoming from the war, which results in his murder by Aigisthos, lover of his unfaithful wife, Clytemnestra, is frequently mentioned in the poem as a contrast to the homecoming of Odysseus to his own faithful wife, Penelope. A further parallel is developed between Orestes, the son of Agamemnon, who revenges him by killing Aigisthos and Clytemnestra, and Telemachus, who will assist his own father in the massacre of the suitors.


Skheria (skeh-REE-ah). Land of the Phaeacians, where Odysseus arrives after having been freed from Ogygia. There, Odysseus relates the full story of his ten-year journey to the Phaeacians, who then provide him with gifts and transportation to Ithaca. The Phaeacians, identified as kin of the gods, are distinguished by their respect for established custom, hospitality, and generosity, and Odysseus pointedly contrasts their civilized behavior with the barbaric treatment he receives at several places he visits on his journey.

Cave of the Cyclops

Cave of the Cyclops. Island dwelling of Polyphemos, a member of the race of Cyclopes—giant cannibals who exemplify the dystopian world of savagery and barbarism that the poem frequently juxtaposes with examples of civilized societies. The Cyclopes dwell in caves rather than crafted structures and do not farm their land or build ships. Odysseus and ten companions find themselves trapped within the cave of the Cyclops Polyphemos, who eats his guests rather than providing them with aid and gifts as is the custom at such exemplars of civilized behavior as Pylos, Sparta, and Skheria. Odysseus and some of his men escape after blinding Polyphemos. Polyphemos’s request that his father, the sea god Poseidon, revenge him against Odysseus, results in Odysseus’s ten years of forced wandering.


Aiaia (ay-EE-ah). Home of the enchantress Circe, a place of seductive beauty and ease, in which Odysseus is detained for more than a year on his journey home. Circe’s custom is to turn visitors into wolves, lions, and swine, in a symbolic reversal of proper hospitality, which makes the proper treatment of guests one of the highest attributes of true humanity. Even though he is not literally transformed into an animal, Odysseus is seduced by Circe’s hospitality into forgetting his mission to return home. As always, however, Odysseus chooses the hardships of the return home over the temptations of an easy life away from society and his duty.


Nekuia (neh-kew-ee-ah). Underworld home of the dead. It is presented somewhat inconsistently as a remote northern location on the earth’s surface and as an underground realm. Odysseus journeys there in book 11 to get instructions from the prophet Tiresias and meets the shades, or ghosts, of several figures from his past and from Greek mythology. The shades of the dead suitors appear there at the end of the poem as well.

Island of the Sirens

Island of the Sirens. Home of the Sirens, whose irresistible songs enchant sailors into running their ships ashore, with usually disastrous results.


Scylla and Charybdis. Mythical monsters that guard a strait through which Olysseus’s ship must pass. Scylla, a monster with twelve legs and six heads, and Charybdis, a gigantic whirlpool, flank a narrow strait between headlands. Their significance lies in the idea that Odysseus cannot possibly get home without passing between them and losing some of his crew. In modern parlance, their names have come to signify any dilemma in which a person is forced to choose between two unavoidable yet thoroughly unpleasant alternatives.


Thrinakia (THREE-nah-kee-ah). Island of the cattle of Helios, lord of the sun. Odysseus’s men unwisely slaughter some of the sacred cattle, for which transgression Zeus hits their ship with a thunderbolt. Odysseus is the only survivor.


Ogygia (OH-gee-jee-uh). Edenic island of the nymph Calypso, on which Odysseus is shipwrecked after the destruction of his ship by Zeus. This episode constitutes Odysseus’s most powerful temptation to abandon his journey home, as Calypso offers him not only worldly pleasure and luxury, but immortality: He will neither die nor grow old if he stays.


Olympus. Mountain in northern Greece traditionally believed to be the home of the gods. The poem narrates several meetings the gods have to discuss and direct Odysseus’s fate. The civilized societies and customs depicted in the poem are always in some sense versions of this Olympian society.

The Odyssey Historical Context

Map of the Aegean region Published by Gale Cengage

The context in which the Homeric poems were created is clouded by the fact that their creation is a process that spans several centuries. In...

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The Odyssey The Trojan War

No student of Homer’s poetry can ignore the central event of both the Iliad and the Odyssey: namely,...

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The Odyssey Literary Style

Since it is one of the first works in its genre to have survived, the Odyssey does not so much display the mechanics of epic poetry...

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The Odyssey Quizzes

Book 1 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. Where is Odysseus located at the poem’s commencement?

2. Which of the Olympian deities is his nemesis?

3. What did Odysseus do to inspire the god’s wrath?

4. What is the correlation of family members between Agamemnon’s family and Odysseus’ household?

5. As whom does Athene disguise herself when she visits Telemachus?

6. Who are the chief suitors in Odysseus’ house?

7. Why does Phemius’ song disturb Penelope?

8. Who is Odysseus’ father?

9. Where is he located during the time of Book I?

10. What is Eurycleia’s association with both...

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Book 2 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What are the two reasons that Telemachus calls the Ithacans to assembly?

2. Who are Telemachus’ outspoken advocates in the assembly?

3. What is the chief means employed by Penelope in order to stall the suitors?

4. What is the sign read by Halitherses during the assembly?

5. How does Halitherses interpret the sign?

6. What personae are assumed by Athene in Book II?

7. How does Telemachus manage to acquire a ship and crew?

8. Why does Eurycleia protest against Telemachus’ proposed journey?

9. What promise does he exact from her?

10. What ritual do the sailors perform once the ship...

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Book 3 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What is the name of the first kingdom visited by Telemachus on his travels?

2. What is Nestor’s family celebrating when Telemachus arrives at their city?

3. Which son of Nestor befriends and accompanies Telemachus on his journey?

4. When did Nestor and Odysseus part company?

5. Where was Menelaus when Agamemnon was assassinated?

6. What activity was Orestes engaged in when Menelaus finally returned to Greece?

7. Whom does Nestor suggest Telemachus visit?

8. In what manner does Athene take her leave of Telemachus and Nestor?

9. How does Nestor react toward her...

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Book 4 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What is the festive occasion in Menelaus’ palace when Telemachus arrives?

2. Who is the first to recognize Telemachus in Sparta?

3. Why does Peisistratus wish the weeping to end?

4. How does Helen stop everyone’s sorrow?

5. What foreshadowing takes place in Helen’s story?

6. How is Helen presented in Menelaus’ tale of the Trojan Horse?

7. How does Menelaus know of Odysseus’ fate?

8. How did Menelaus learn how to capture Proteus?

9. Why doesn’t Telemachus accept Menelaus’ gift of horses?

10. How do the suitors react when they learn of Telemachus’ voyage?


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Book 5 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. Who informs Calypso of Zeus’s will?

2. What is Calypso’s reaction to this information?

3. What is Odysseus’ usual activity during the day on Calypso’s island?

4. What gift does Calypso offer Odysseus to convince him to remain with her?

5. How else does she seek to dissuade him from his journey?

6. By what means does Odysseus leave the island?

7. What causes the storm winds to descend upon Odysseus?

8. What gods aid him in his distress at sea?

9. What island does he land upon?

10. What is the name of the people who reside there?


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Book 6 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. Who were the Phaeaceans’ former neighbors?

2. Why does Nausikaa decide to wash the palace laundry?

3. What is she too embarrassed to mention to her father?

4. What is unique about the dance performed by the Phaeacean women?

5. How is Odysseus awakened?

6. What is the handmaidens’ reaction to his appearance?

7. What is Nausikaa’s reaction to his appearance?

8. What decision must Odysseus make concerning his approach to Nausikaa?

9. What is the main reason that Odysseus appears godlike to the Phaeacean ladies?

10. Why is Nausikaa afraid to bring...

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Book 7 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. Whom does Odysseus meet on his way to Alcinoös’ palace?

2. How does Odysseus make his way to the palace without being noticed?

3. What advice does Athene give Odysseus concerning his supplication?

4. Why does Odysseus pause outside the palace?

5. What is the Phaeaceans’ reaction to Odysseus’ sudden appearance?

6. What does Odysseus do immediately after beseeching Arete?

7. What tale does Odysseus narrate briefly for the Phaeaceans?

8. Why does he tell this story?

9. What does Alcinoös propose concerning Nausikaa?

10. What extraordinary ability do...

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Book 8 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What entertainment do the Phaeaceans find at Alcinoös’ feast?

2. What task is undertaken by Alcinoös’ herald throughout Book VIII?

3. What is the first story told by Demodocus?

4. What is Odysseus’ reaction to Demodocus’ tales of Troy?

5. Why is Odysseus annoyed while at the athletic field?

6. What action is taken by Odysseus to disprove Euryalus’ accusatory insults?

7. How does Hephaestus learn about his wife’s lewd conduct?

8. How does he confirm his suspicions?

9. Which of Demodocus’ characters sympathizes most with the adulterous gods’...

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Book 9 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. With how many ships does Odysseus depart from Troy?

2. Whom do they encounter first?

3. Whose land does Odysseus encounter after being blown off course for nine days?

4. What is the curse associated with that land?

5. What is the race and lineage of Polyphemus?

6. What outrage does he visit on his guests?

7. Why doesn’t Odysseus kill Polyphemus?

8. What does he do to the Cyclops instead of killing him?

9. Why does Polyphemus stop the great ram on its way out of the cave?

10. What are the long-term consequences for Odysseus’ treatment of Polyphemus?...

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Book 10 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. Why does Aeolus rudely banish Odysseus from his island?

2. What calamity does Odysseus’ fleet meet among the Laistrygones?

3. How does Odysseus learn of his crew’s transformation by Circe?

4. How is he able to resist her magic?

5. Why does Odysseus refuse to partake of Circe’s meal?

6. What is Eurylochus’ reaction to Odysseus’ news concerning his conquest of Circe?

7. How long does Odysseus remain on Aeaea?

8. What disturbing news does Circe break to Odysseus concerning his journey home?

9. What happens to Elpenor?

10. How do the men react to...

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Book 11 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. Whom does Odysseus first meet in the Underworld?

2. What advice does Teiresias offer Odysseus concerning his future stay on Thrinacea?

3. Why didn’t Anticlea initially recognize Odysseus?

4. How did Anticlea die?

5. Why did the souls of the deceased queens appear to Odysseus?

6. Whose death does Agamemnon add to the list of Clytem-nestra’s crimes?

7. What comforting news does Odysseus relate to Achilles?

8. Why doesn’t Ajax Telamonius approach Odysseus?

9. What is the curse of Tantalus?

10. Of what does Odysseus’ presence in Hades’ realm remind...

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Book 12 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What aid does Circe lend Odysseus before he departs from Aeaea?

2. How do Odysseus’ men become immune to the Sirens’ singing?

3. Why is Odysseus tied to the mast?

4. What choice must Odysseus make when passing though the perilous sea cliffs?

5. What decision does he make?

6. In what way does Odysseus ignore Circe’s advice concerning Scylla?

7. Why does Odysseus stop on Thrinacea, despite the many warnings he has been given?

8. Where is he when his men devour the cattle of Helius?

9. In what way does Helius coerce Zeus to punish Odysseus’ men?


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Book 13 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What does Alcinoös suggest to the Phaeaceans after Odysseus ends his tale?

2. What is Odysseus’ mood during the next day of feasting?

3. What does Odysseus do while aboard the Phaeacean vessel?

4. In what strange way do the Phaeacean seamen drop Odysseus off at Ithaca?

5. Why is he unable to recognize his surroundings when he first perceives Ithaca?

6. What nervous activity does Odysseus perform concerning his treasure?

7. In what guise does Athene appear to Odysseus?

8. What important news does she deliver to him while she is in that guise?

9. What is...

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Book 14 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What happens to Odysseus as he approaches the swineherd’s dwelling?

2. What actions on the part of the suitors affect Eumaeus personally?

3. What warning does Eumaeus give the disguised Odysseus before revealing his master’s name to his guest?

4. What events have prompted Eumaeus to make this warning?

5. What island does Odysseus’ narrator claim as his home?

6. In what country did his narrator first meet disaster after the Trojan War?

7. Where did his narrator hear of Odysseus during his wanderings?

8. Why does Odysseus tell his false story about the Greeks at Troy?


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Book 15 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. To what danger does Athene alert Telemachus when she appears to him?

2. How does Helen read the portent of the eagle and the goose?

3. What does Telemachus request of Peisistratus as they approach Pylus?

4. Why does Theoclymenus wish to accompany Telemachus on his journey home?

5. In what way does Odysseus again test Eumaeus?

6. What was the swineherd’s status before he was a servant?

7. What changed that situation?

8. What happened to the Phoenician bondswoman in Eumaeus’ story?

9. What does Theoclymenus do that prompts Telemachus to change his mind concerning...

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Book 16 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. Why is Eumaeus so excited to see Telemachus?

2. Upon what errand does Telemachus send Eumaeus?

3. What prompts Odysseus to reveal his identity to Telemachus?

4. Why is Telemachus frightened by his father’s appearance?

5. Whom does Odysseus assert will aid Telemachus and him in his struggle against the suitors?

6. With what part of Odysseus’ plan does Telemachus disagree?

7. How do the suitors learn of Telemachus’ return?

8. What prompts the suitors to disagree with Antinoös’ proposal?

9. Of what does Eurymachus falsely reassure Penelope?


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Book 17 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. Why does Telemachus tell Peraeus to hold onto Menelaus’ presents?

2. What does Theoclymenus promise Penelope?

3. Whom does Eumaeus call upon to grant Odysseus’ homecoming and the subsequent destruction of Melanthius?

4. Why does the dog Argos react to Odysseus’ presence?

5. What is ironic about Athene’s desire to have Odysseus test the suitors?

6. According to Antinoös, why do the other suitors give so freely to Odysseus?

7. Why does Penelope wish to see the disguised Odysseus?

8. Why does Eumaeus wish to dissuade Penelope of the interview?

9. Why does...

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Book 18 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. Why does Iros want to expel Odysseus from the palace?

2. Why does he begin trembling before the fight?

3. What advice is given vainly to Penelope by Eurynome?

4. What does Athene do about Penelope’s refusal?

5. How do the suitors react to the goddess’s actions towards Penelope?

6. What does Penelope prompt the suitors to do when she speaks to them?

7. In what way does Odysseus threaten the maidservants?

8. How does Odysseus respond to Eurymachus’ slanderous insults?

9. Whom does Eurymachus hit with the footstool?

10. What calms the suitors down at...

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Book 19 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What action is taken by Odysseus and Telemachus after the suitors depart?

2. Who scorns Odysseus for the second time when she sees him in the great hall?

3. When does Odysseus’ persona claim to have entertained Odysseus in Crete?

4. How does Odysseus seem to authenticate his story?

5. What does he suggest about Odysseus’ homecoming?

6. Why does Eurycleia feel sympathy for Odysseus’ persona?

7. How did Odysseus receive his name?

8. What inflicted him with the wound that formed his scar?

9. How is Odysseus represented in Penelope’s dream?

10. How...

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Book 20 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. Why is Odysseus pensive throughout the long night?

2. Why is he finally able to fall asleep?

3. What does Penelope fervently long for in her hopeless anxiety?

4. Why does Eurycleia hurry the servants more emphatically than usual?

5. What decision made by Philoitius proves his loyalty to Odysseus?

6. What is the “gift” bestowed upon Odysseus by Ctesippus?

7. How does Telemachus answer Agelaus concerning Penelope’s decision?

8. What is unusual about the suitors’ sudden laughter?

9. How does Theoclymenus interpret it?

10. What do the suitors suggest...

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Book 21 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. Why didn’t Odysseus take his bow with him to Troy?

2. What were the two parts of Penelope’s proposed competition?

3. Why are the suitors surprised at Telemachus’ ability to set up the axes?

4. Why does Telemachus assert that he should take part in the competition?

5. What makes him fail?

6. What is Leodes’ lament after he fails to string the bow?

7. How does Antinoös try to simplify the competition after Leodes’ failure?

8. What most perturbs Eurymachus concerning his failure to string the bow?

9. Why is Eumaeus initially unable to bring Odysseus the...

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Book 22 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. Which suitor is the first to taste Odysseus’ vengeance?

2. What offer is made by Eurymachus to stave off Odysseus’ attack?

3. How do the suitors begin obtaining weapons and armor?

4. How does Odysseus put a stop to this?

5. How do Eumaeus and Philoitius imprison Melanthius?

6. Why are the suitors’ spears unable to find their marks?

7. Why does Odysseus ignore Leodes’ plea?

8. Whom does he spare from the slaughter?

9. Whom do Odysseus’ men execute after destroying the suitors?

10. What does Odysseus use to sterilize his hall thoroughly?


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Book 23 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. How does Penelope initially react to Eurycleia’s announcement?

2. After she believes that the suitors have been slain, whom does Penelope believe has accomplished the task?

3. Why does Telemachus rebuke Penelope in the great hall?

4. For what reason does Odysseus initially believe Penelope doubts his authenticity?

5. What does he do to rectify the situation?

6. How does Odysseus stall the people from discovering the truth concerning the suitors?

7. What causes Penelope to accept Odysseus’ identity?

8. What fear caused her to withhold her acknowledgement for so long?


(The entire section is 204 words.)

Book 24 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. Who leads the suitors to Hades’ realm?

2. Why does Agamemnon recognize Amphimedon?

3. In what activity is Laertes engaged when Odysseus finds him?

4. What decision must Odysseus make before approaching Laertes?

5. What reaction does he stir in his father?

6. What does Eupeithes suggest to the assembled Ithacans?

7. What news does Medon bring to the assembly?

8. What does Athene request of Zeus?

9. How is Laertes able to destroy Eupeithes?

10. What does Athene stop Odysseus from doing when the Ithacans flee from him?


(The entire section is 176 words.)