Classics - The Odyssey

Summaries of the Books in the Odyssey

  • Created by: Amy
  • Created on: 10-04-11 14:12

Book One - Athene meets Telemachus

  • Book starts by calling on the Muses for inspiration to tell the story
  • The Gods in Olympus create a plan to send Hermes to Calypso to tell her to release Odysseus, while Posiedon is feasting with the Ethiopians
  • The suitors in Ithaca are eating all Odysseus' wealth and being extremely disrespectful, they pay no attention to xenia and are trying to court Penelope
  • Athene goes to see Telemachus, disguised as the family friend Mentes, and tells him to call an assembly (of which there have been none for the past 20 years, since Odysseus left) and bring the suitors' behaviour to everyone's attention to try to rid the palace of them
  • If this does not work (which it doesn't) she instructs him to go off on a voyage to gain information of his father from Nestor in Pylos and Helen and Menelaus in Sparta
  • When Mentes leaves, he vanishes like a bird through a hole in the ceiling and Telemachus realises it was Athene, not Mentes to whom he had been talking.
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Themes of Book One

  • Xenia - "guest-friendship", the idea that someone is welcomed into the house and given food and washed before they are asked any questions of their heritage and why they have arrived at the house - on page 6, when Telemachus sees Mentes at the entrance he rushes to let his guest in "ashamed that a stranger should be kept waiting at the gates"
  • Food and Drink - the suitors are seen eating and drinking and they are seen like this throughout the Odyssey, Mentes is also offered food and wine, showing the xenia of Telemachus. Wine is also regularly paired with libations for the gods and the suitors are seen here not giving any respect to the gods, they are seen as very unpious. Suitors "came swaggering in...the maids pur piles of bread in bowls beside them, while the pages filled the mixing-bowls to the brim with wine" Mentes is offered food "the faithful housekeeper brought some bread and set it by them with a choice of delicacies, helping them liberally to all she could offer"
  • Formulae - this last quote is also a formula (ie. a sentence/passage that is used repeatedly throughout the Odyssey, possibly so the poet could gain some time to think), and shows the importance of food within the book
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Book Two - The Debate in Ithaca

  • In this book, we see Telemachus trying to reason with the fathers and the elders of Ithaca to try to gain help to remove the suitors from the palace.
  • Telemachus makes his speech against the suitors and becoming very emotional, bursting into tears and throwing down his staff in anger
  • The suitors, especially Antinous, sense that Telemachus doens't have enough power to eradicate them and argues in front of the rest of the assembly that the suitors are doing nothing wrong.  Antinous convinces the assembly that it is Penelope's fault that the suitors are still residing at the palace as she refuses to choose a husband.
  • Halitherses reminds the suitors of the prophesy he made that Odysseus would return after twenty years, with no crew and that no-one would recognise him when he returned.
  • Eurymachus rebukes Halitherses and scorns his prophesies
  • Telemachus vows to take the journey and visit Pylos and Sparta and Athene helps him prepare for the trip
  • Telemachus tell Eurycleia (his nurse) that he is leaving and tells her not to let his mother know, in case she weeps for his departure
  • Telemachus leaves and the crew make libations to the gods
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Ebun Sodipo


why did you only do one for book 1? :~(

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