Odyssey Revision Notes- all books

These are my revison notes for all the books of the Odyssey. I apologise if there are some typing or spelling errors. The Contextual books are for the OCR exam board but I think these will be useful to anyone studying the Odyssey! Hope this helps and good luck!

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  • Created by: kirsty
  • Created on: 27-04-14 09:37
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The Odyssey
Context books =4-12, 18-22
Book One
We have a council of the Gods on Mount Olympus. This is divine intervention (any
time we refer to the Gods we say this). Athene, the Goddess of War and wisdom
asks her father Zeus that Odysseus may be allowed to return home finally, she
favours Odysseus, he is her favourite mortal because he is intelligent. Zeus does not
say no, he sends down Hermes to Ogygia (home of the Nymph Calypso) to tell
Calypso to free Odysseus, he is being held there. Hermes will take a command from
Zeus (divine intervention).
Meanwhile Athene goes to Ithaca to see Odysseus son Telemachus. This is to send
him to Pylos and Sparta to find out about his father
Athene disguises herself as Mentes and goes to Telemachus (Mentes= a family
friend, divine intervention)
Telemachus is described as `Godlike,' this shows how handsome he is and that he
has presence.
He is also `sat disconsolate,' he is sat on his own and is sad, he misses his father
(strong ancient bond between father and son)
Shows his feelings towards the suitors. They are insolent, especially towards
Penelope, Odysseus wife
In every epic poem the writer starts with a weakened character and position so that
the writer can build up their character, in this case this character is Telemachus
The suitors expect guest friendship or xenia (hospitality), you would have to feed
them, give them wine and maybe a present. Only then can you ask who they are.
You then exchange gifts and depart. (Telemachus and Mentes)
Xenia also includes the guests and suitors and they are displaying bad Xenia as they
are eating Telemachus out of house and home
Book Two
Telemachus speech: Suitors have bad xenia. None have asked Icarius for
Penelope's hand. Calls himself weak but courageous. One man against many
(weak because he has never been trained to fight). Cries after speech- shows
Antinous= the worst suitor. Argues with Telemachus after his speech. He places
the blame on Penelope and calls her an `incomparable schemer.'
Penelope is a good match for Odysseus, she is tricky and intelligent. This is shown
through Penelope's trick- creating a death shroud for Laertes before her marriage
but un-weaves it at night. She did this for four years, until a maid tells the suitors
what she has been doing and she is forced to complete it.
Halitherses uses augury (omen) for two eagles sent by Zeus. Means that Odysseus
is close and will kill them all. Halitherses was an Ithacan prophet who warned
Penelope that Odysseus would have a twenty year absence and when he returns
nobody will know of his return.

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Eurymachus= the second worst suitor, he responds by saying Odysseus is dead.
Tells Telemachus to tell his mother to go and prepare for her marriage to a suitor
and until she's wed a suitor they won't leave his house
Telemachus asks for a ship to go and find news of Odysseus and then he'll marry
her off if Odysseus is dead. This shows good leadership skills. On the way back
home he sees Eurycleia an old nurse maid. She preps him for the journey.…read more

Page 3

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Athene tells Telemachus to trust the Gods, this could be seen as a weakness that he
questions the Gods in the first place
Book 4
Menelaus son and daughter are getting married. Hermione is goiing to marry
Pyrhus, the son of Achilles, and Megapenthes is going to mary Alector's daughter
from Sparta
Menelaus is banqueting
The squire suggests sending Telemachus away (this would be bad xenia).…read more

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Helen helped him because she says she was on the Greeks side at this point. The
spell that has been put on by Aprohdite had been broken , she was back to her
senses and she wanted to help her people
Helen says she regrets everything and it makes her feel full of loathing
Menelaus the n gives his own story which he says shows another example of
Oduysseus steadfastness.…read more

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Then they need to hold him down no matter how much he struggles, he
will try transforming into every beast on the earth, water and fire. Need to
hold him fast and grip tighter
When he turns back to his normal shape realese him and ask him which
God is stopping them going home
The next morning they went with Eidothee who brought them seal skins.…read more

Page 6

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The suitors were filled with consternation (alarming amazement) because they did
not know Telemachus had gone to Pylos. The suitors asked him many questions
about when Telemachus left, did he take young men from the town or from his
serfs and servants, and did Noemon give it Telemachus of his own accord.
Noemon says that he gave the ship to Telemachus of his own accord, that the best
young men went with Telemachus and the captain was Mentor.…read more

Page 7

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Penelope asks her to tell her of Odysseus but the phantom won't, Penelope wakes
up and feels comforted
Meanwhile the suitors had left lying in wait forTelemachus, between Ithaca and
Samos at the rocky isle of Asteris
Book 5
Assembly of the Gods. Athene is worried about Odyessus imprisonment on
Ogygia by Calypso. She reminds Zeus that Odysseus has been left to languish
there in misery and he can't get home.…read more

Page 8

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The Nymph Ino helps him by telling him to take off his clothes, leave the raft,
and swim for his life to the Phaeacian cost where deliverance waits for him. She
gives him a veil to wind around his waist that has divine protection to stop him
being injured or dying
Odysseus thinks that this is a trsp from the Gods and so says he will keep
holding the raft. This is because the land is faraway.…read more

Page 9

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Odysseus thinks about what to do; either grab her knees in supplication for help or
should he keep his distance and beg for help. Chooses the second because it is more
appropriate when he is naked
Odysseus then makes a speech to Nausicaa
Knows she is a princess by her clothing, looks, demenor or maybe it
was a guess.…read more

Page 10

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Athene they will part. He will wait there until he
thinks she has had enough time to get to the palace before he walks into the town
and gets directions to the palace.
She tells him to supplicate Arete who will be sitting by the hearth spinning yarn
dyed sea- purple, this was a royal colour only for the rich, instead of supplicating
the King. As if Arete is sympathetic to him he will be allowed to have ships and go
home.…read more


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