The Odyssey Character and Theme Quotes
by Homer

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Essential Quotes by Character: Odysseus

Essential Passage 1:Book I

And Zeus said, “My child, what are you talking about? How can I forget Odysseus than whom there is no more capable man on earth, nor more liberal in his offerings to the immortal gods that live in heaven? Bear in mind, however, that Poseidon is still furious with Odysseus for having blinded an eye of Polyphemus king of the Cyclopes. Polyphemus is son to Poseidon by the nymph Thoosa, daughter to the sea-king Phorcys; therefore though he will not kill Odysseus outright, he torments him by preventing him from getting home. Still, let us lay our heads together and see how we can help him to return; Poseidon will then be pacified, for if we are all of a mind he can hardly stand out against us.”


The gods have gathered on Olympus to discuss events that have followed the Trojan War. Zeus laments the death of Agamemnon, who was killed by his wife Clytemnestra and her lover Aegisthus. The goddess Athena reminds Zeus that Odysseus is stranded on an island, imprisoned by Calypso, who is holding him until he should marry her. Athena chides Zeus that such a faithful follower as Odysseus should be forgotten by the god he worships. Zeus responds that he has not forgotten him. It would be impossible to forget Odysseus, who is wiser than all men and surpasses everyone in honoring the gods. However, the sea god Poseidon is enraged at Odysseus for blinding his son, Polyphemus the Cyclops. Zeus agrees that all the gods and goddesses should join together to come up with a plan to convince Poseidon to cease his rampage against Odysseus so that the hero can return home.

Essential Passage 2: Book XII

“Is there no way," said I, "of escaping Charybdis, and at the same time keeping Scylla off when she is trying to harm my men?"
“You dare devil," replied the goddess, "you are always wanting to fight somebody or something; you will not let yourself be beaten even by the immortals. For Scylla is not mortal; moreover she is savage, extreme, rude, cruel and invincible. There is no help for it; your best chance will be to get by her as fast as ever you can, for if you dawdle about her rock while you are putting on your armor, she may catch you with a second cast of her six heads, and snap up another half dozen of your men; so drive your ship past her at full speed, and roar out lustily to Crataiis who is Scylla's dam, bad luck to her; she will then stop her from making a second raid upon you."


Circe, on whose island Odysseus has been held, warns Odysseus of the dangers to come. She tells him to be careful of the Sirens, whose singing will tempt men to their deaths if they should listen to them. She warns him that his men must stop up their ears with wax. If Odysseus wants to hear the Sirens sing, he should tie himself to the mast so that he will not be tempted to jump overboard. She then advises him to beware of Scylla and Charybdis. The one is a monster who will swallow his men; the latter is a whirlpool that will swallow his ship. Odysseus asks if there is some way to fight Scylla and end the danger. Circe chides him for his pride and his recklessness, that he would dare even to fight against the gods. She warns him to do no such thing, but to sail as fast as possible between the two dangers and cry out to Scylla’s mother, who will not allow Scylla to go after the ship again.

Essential Passage 3:Book XVII

...There was a grove of water-loving poplars planted in a circle all round it, and the clear cold water came down to it from a rock high up, while above the fountain there was an altar to the nymphs, at which all wayfarers used to sacrifice. Here Melanthius son of Dolius overtook them as he was driving down some goats, the best in his flock, for the suitors' dinner, and there were two shepherds with him. When he saw Eumaeus and Odysseus he reviled them with outrageous and unseemly language, which made Odysseus very angry.
“There you go,” cried he, “and a precious pair you are. See how heaven brings birds of...

(The entire section is 3,539 words.)