What are crucial facts to know in preparation for a test covering Books 1-4 of The Odyssey?
The plot of Books 1-4 is as follows: We learn in the council of the gods that Odysseus is prevented from coming home by Poseidon's anger at him for blinding his son, the Cyclops Polyphemus. But Poseidon is away, so Zeus allows his daughter, the goddess Athena, to help Odysseus. She descends in the guise of Mentes the chief of the Taiphans, and goes to Ithaca to comfort and encourage Odysseus' son Telemachus. Telemachus then goes with Mentes/Athena to Pylos, where Telemachus learns nothing of his father from Pylos' king, Nestor. Nestor sends Telemachus, with his own son Peisistratos, to Sparta to see Menelaos and ask for more information. Athena in the guise of Mentes leaves Telemachus. Telemachus and Peisistratus learn from Menelaos that Odysseus' last known location was Calypso's island. It becomes clear to the suitors squatting in Odysseus's palace back in Ithaca that Telemachus has left without permission, and they are angry. They rail against Telemachus, and Penelope grieves. Athena only comes once in disguise, in Books 1 and 2 in the guise of Mentes. She sends an "apparition" of a woman, Iphithime, to comfort Penelope in a dream at the end of Book 4. Epithets include bright-eyed Athena, godlike Telemachos, light-haired Menelaos, bronze-clad Achaians, leader of men Peisistratos, Nestor Neleus' son, Helen the daughter of Zeus, and prudent Penelope.
Text Source: Homer, The Odyssey. Rodney Merrill, trans. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan Press, 2006.