Book 1 Summary and Analysis

New Characters
Poseidon: god of the sea, enemy of Odysseus

Zeus: king of the gods

Athene: goddess of wisdom, Odysseus’ patron

Telemachus: Odysseus’ son

Phemius: bard forced to sing for the suitors

Penelope: Odysseus’ wife, mother of Telemachus

Antinoös: leader and most brazen of the suitors

Eurymachus: crafty co-leader of the suitors

Eurycleia: aged maid who nursed both Odysseus and Telemachus

The narrator calls upon the Muse to help him narrate the story of Odysseus’ wanderings and homecoming. We learn that he is imprisoned on Calypso’s island, and that he is the victim of Poseidon’s wrath.

While Poseidon is away receiving a hecatomb, a massive sacrifice, from the Ethiopians, the gods sit in council on Mount Olympus. Zeus mourns the death of Agamemnon, the general who led the Greek forces at Troy, and rues the fact that Aegisthus, Agamemnon’s assassin, did not heed the gods’ warning; now Aegisthus lies slain at the hand of Agamemnon’s avenging son, Orestes. Athene reminds her father that Odysseus still languishes on Calypso’s island due to Poseidon’s wrath. Zeus agrees to send Hermes to command Calypso to release Odysseus; Athene herself plans to descend to Ithaca to stir Telemachus to seek out his father and thereby gain a reputation for himself.

Athene flies down to the palace of Odysseus and disguises herself as Mentes, a trader friend of Odysseus. She is greeted by Telemachus, who draws her away from the suitors who are wildly feasting in his hall. Telemachus explains to Mentes (Athene) that Odysseus is lost and his palace is besieged by voracious young men who waste his father’s goods in his absence. They are suitors seeking the hand of Penelope, Odysseus’ wife, who neither refuses nor accepts their suits.

Athene advises Telemachus to call an assembly to oust the suitors, and then suggests that he take a journey to Pylus and Sparta to seek news of his...

(The entire section is 852 words.)