Homer's Odyssey

Homer's Odyssey for OCR:

Summaries of books 5,6,7,9,10,12.

Hope they're helpful.

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  • Created by: Lucy W
  • Created on: 20-05-11 20:59

Book 5 Summary

Athene goes to Zeus to remind him that Odysseus is still imprisoned on the island of Ogygia. She tells him that Odysseus has been a good king but has received a terrible fate. She also tells him that there's a plot to murder Telemachus, who is on a journey to Pylos and Lacedaemon. Zeus tells Athene that Telemachus' journey was her idea and advises her to bring him back to Ithaca.

Zeus sends hermes to tell Calypso that Odysseus should leave. He will then come, after 20 days of suffering, to the island of Scherie, the land of the Phaeacians. Hermes is welcomed by Calypso and tells her that Odysseus must leave. She says that "you are hard-hearted, you Gods, and unmatched for jealousy" and then reminds Hermes of how Dawn fell in love with Orion, a mortal. She believes that she saved Odysseus but has to obey Zeus.

Initially Calypso doesn't want to help Odysseus, but eventually she does anyway. She finds him crying on the shore and tells him that she has decided to set him free, and that he has to build a raft. She also gives him fresh food and clothing. Odysseus does not believe her and so she swears to the river styx.

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Book 5 Summary, Continued.

Calypso wants to know why Odysseus wants to leave, as surely she is superior in every way to Penelope. Odysseus replies that she is by virtue of the fact that she is immortal.

In the morning, Calypso gives Odysseus tools to build the raft with and on the 5th day he sets off. After 17 days, Odysseus is in site of the island of Scherie, when Poseidon, who has been away in Ethiopia, sees him and is angry that the gods have gone behind his back. He sends a storm.

Odysseus wishes that he had died at Troy. He is thrown into the water and it weighed down by the clothes Calypso gave him. At this point, Ino, pities him and tells him to take his clothes off, leave the raft and to trust in the magic veil which she gives him. Odysseus prefers to use the raft and holds on until another wave throws him off. Poseidon watches him and leaves and Athene uses the north wind to calm the storm.

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Book 5 Summary, Continued

For 2 days, Odysseus drifts in the water and on the third he sees land, but he is disappointed that the coastline is rocky and inaccessible (Here, the land is threatening but the people are welcoming. This is the exact opposite if the Cyclops and the Laestrygonians) A wave hurls him against the rock and only a timely intervention by Athene saves him. She then puts it into his head to swim to the shore. He comes across the mouth of a river and prays to the river god to let him swim up the current. Odysseus throws the veil back and clambers, exhausted onto the shore. He is unsure whether to face the cold sleeping by the river, or to face the beasts in the wood. He crawls under a bush and covers himself in leaves. Athene brings him to sleep.

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Book 6 Summary

Odysseus sleeps in the thicket. The king of the island on which he landed, Scherie, is Alcinous. Athena enters his palace to find his daughter Nausicaa.

She takes the form of one of the princess's friends and tells her that she should be married soon, so she should go and do a ritual washing of clothes in the river. She adds "Ask your royal father in the morning to have a waggon ready made for you and a couple of mules."

Athena departs and at dawn Nausicaa goes to her father and asks for everything Athena told her to and he grants it. The mules are brought around and the cart is filled.

At the river the girls bathe themselves as well as the clothing. While the clothing dries, they eat and then "throw off their headgear" to play a game with a ball. The princess throws the ball the wrong way and it hits the thicket. Odysseus shouts out and then steps  "like a Mountain Lion" out of the bushes hiding his genitals with an olive branch.

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Book 6 Summary, Continued

The other girls run away but Nausicaa "was the only one to stand firm". Odysseus considers falling and clinging to her knees in supplication but he decides that the might take offence. He asks her whether she is a god or a mortal because she is so beautiful "It is of Artemis, the Daughter of almighty Zeus, that your beauty, grace and stature most remind me of" . He compares her to a "fresh young palm tree shooting up by the altar of Apollo". He continues to praise her.

Nausicaa says that although "it is Olympian Zeus himself who assigns good fortune to men, good and bad alike" she will help him now he has "come to our country and our city here".

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Book 6 summary, continued

Nausicaa introduces herself and tells her maids not to be afraid. They give him olive oil and he washes. He says he cannot bathe in front of them so they leave. He bathes and Athena helps him look beautiful. Nausicaa is amazed when he returns, and wishes her husband would look like him.

They give him food and tell him to follow them at a distance to the palace as "it is their unpleasant gossip that (she) wishes to avoid". She tells him what to do when he arrives at the palace and then leaves. Odysseus prays to Athena that he will be helped. Athena hears him and plans to fulfill his wish without showing him her true form.

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Book 7 Summary

Nausicaa rides home and goes to her own room as Odysseus walks to the palace. Athena covers him in a fog so that no one will hinder him and she comes to him in the form of a small girl holding a jug. Odysseus asks the girl for directions.

The girl tells him to follow her and to not speak to any Phaeacians along the way because they have no love for foreigners; they prefer to trust their ships. Odysseus is amazed at the harbours, ships and walls.

They reach the palace and the girl tells him to approach the queen and be bold. She explains that the queen and king are related. Alcinous is the grandson of Poseidon and is the uncle of Arete, who's father, Rhexenor was killed by Apollo. Athene says that Arete is highly honoured by Alcinous and by the people.

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Book 7 Summary, continued.

When Odysseus reaches the king and queen, the mist clears and he supplicates Arete. Echeneus says to Alcinous that they should honour their guest (Xenia) and so Odysseus is seated on a silver throne next to him. Alcinous dismisses the Phaecians and tells him that they will make a sacrifice for the guest tomorrow and discuss how they will get him home.

Alcinous wonders if Odysseus is a god, but then he says that this is odd because the gods usually appear before them plainly. Odysseus tells him that he is not a god, but rather a man of misery who has suffered trials inflicted upon him by the will of the gods.

Arete recognised his clock and asks him who he is. Odysseus retells the story of Ogygia and Calypso and his dreadful shipwreck. He mentions Nausicaa, who acted beyond her years. Alcinous thinks Nausicaa should have bought Odysseus with her and says that he'd like Nausicaa to marry someone like him. He tells him that the next day a Phaecian boat will take him home. Odysseus offers a prayer for Alcinous to Zeus and then they go to bed.

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Book 9 Summary

Reluctantly, Odysseus tells the Phaeacians the sorry tale of his wanderings. From Troy, the winds sweep him and his men to Ismarus, city of the Cicones.

The men plunder the land and, carried away by greed, stay until the reinforced ranks of the Cicones turn on them and attack. Odysseus and his crew finally escape, having lost six men per ship.

A storm sent by Zeus sweeps them along for nine days before bringing them to the land of the Lotus-eaters, where the natives give some of Odysseus’s men the intoxicating fruit of the lotus.

As soon as they eat this fruit, they lose all thoughts of home and long for nothing more than to stay there eating more fruit. Only by dragging his men back to the ship and locking them up can Odysseus get them off the island.

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Book 9 Summary, continued

Odysseus and his men then sail through the murky night to the land of the Cyclopes, a rough and uncivilized race of one-eyed giants. After making a meal of wild goats captured on an island offshore, they cross to the mainland.

There they immediately come upon a cave full of sheep and crates of milk and cheese. The men advise Odysseus to ****** some of the food and hurry off, but, to his and his crew’s detriment, he decides to linger.

The cave’s inhabitant soon returns—it is the Cyclops Polyphemus, the son of Poseidon.

Polyphemus makes a show of hospitality at first, but he soon turns hostile. He devours two of Odysseus’s men on the spot and imprisons Odysseus and the rest in his cave for future meals.

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Book 9 Summary, continued

Odysseus wants to take his sword to Polyphemus right then, but he knows that only Polyphemus is strong enough to move the rock that he has placed across the door of his cave. Odysseus thus devises and executes a plan.

The next day, while Polyphemus is outside pasturing his sheep, Odysseus finds a wooden staff in the cave and hardens it in the fire. When Polyphemus returns, Odysseus gets him drunk on wine that he brought along from the ship. Feeling jovial, Polyphemus asks Odysseus his name. Odysseus replies that his name is “Nobody".

As soon as Polyphemus collapses drunk, Odysseus and a select group of his men drive the red-hot staff into his eye. Polyphemus wakes with a shriek, and his neighbors come to see what is wrong, but they leave as soon as he calls out, “It is Nobody's treachery, nor violence that is doing me death". 

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Book 9 Summary, continued

When morning comes, Odysseus and his men escape from the cave, unseen by the blind Polyphemus, by clinging to the bellies of the monster’s sheep as they go out to graze. Safe on board their ships and with Polyphemus’s flock on board as well, Odysseus calls to land and reveals his true identity.

With his former prisoners now out of reach, the blind giant lifts up a prayer to his father, Poseidon, calling for vengeance on Odysseus:

"Here me , Poseidon, Sustainer of the Earth, god of the sable locks. If I am yours indeed and you claim me as your son, grant that Odysseus, son of Laertes, may never reach his home in Ithaca"

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Book 10 Summary

The Achaeans sail from the land of the Cyclopes to the home of Aeolus, ruler of the winds.

Aeolus presents Odysseus with a bag containing all of the winds, and he stirs up a westerly wind to guide Odysseus and his crew home. Within ten days, they are in sight of Ithaca, but Odysseus’s shipmates, who think that Aeolus has secretly given Odysseus a fortune in gold and silver, tear the bag open.

The winds escape and stir up a storm that brings Odysseus and his men back to Aeolia. This time, however, Aeolus refuses to help them, certain that the gods hate Odysseus and wish to do him harm.

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Book 10 summary, continued

Lacking wind, the Achaeans row to the land of the Laestrygonians, a race of powerful giants whose king, Antiphates, and unnamed queen turn Odysseus’s scouts into dinner. Odysseus and his remaining men flee toward their ships, but the Laestrygonians pelt the ships with boulders and sink them as they sit in the harbor. Only Odysseus’s ship escapes.

From there, Odysseus and his men travel to Aeaea, home of the beautiful witch-goddess Circe. Circe drugs a band of Odysseus’s men and turns them into pigs. When Odysseus goes to rescue them, Hermes approaches him in the form of a young man. He tells Odysseus to eat an herb called moly to protect himself from Circe’s drug and then lunge at her when she tries to strike him with her sword. 

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Book 10 summary, continued

Odysseus follows Hermes’ instructions, overpowering Circe and forcing her to change his men back to their human forms. Odysseus soon becomes Circe’s lover, and he and his men live with her in luxury for a year. When his men finally persuade him to continue the voyage homeward, Odysseus asks Circe for the way back to Ithaca. She replies he must sail to Hades, the realm of the dead, to speak with the spirit of Tiresias, a blind prophet who will tell him how to get home.

The next morning, Odysseus rouses his men for the imminent departure. He discovers, however, that the youngest man in his crew, Elpenor, had gotten drunk the previous night, slept on the roof, and, when he heard the men shouting and marching in the morning, fell from the roof and broke his neck. Odysseus explains to his men the course that they must take, which they are displeased to learn is rather meandering.

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Book 12 Summary

Odysseus returns to Aeaea, where he buries Elpenor and spends one last night with Circe. She describes the obstacles that he will face on his voyage home and tells him how to negotiate them. As he sets sail, Odysseus passes Circe’s counsel on to his men. They approach the island of the lovely Sirens, and Odysseus, as instructed by Circe, plugs his men’s ears with beeswax and has them bind him to the mast of the ship. He alone hears their song flowing forth from the island, promising to reveal the future. The Sirens’ song is so seductive that Odysseus begs to be released from his fetters, but his faithful men only bind him tighter.

Once they have passed the Sirens’ island, Odysseus and his men must navigate the straits between Scylla and Charybdis. Scylla is a six-headed monster who, when ships pass, swallows one sailor for each head. Charybdis is an enormous whirlpool that threatens to swallow the entire ship. As instructed by Circe, Odysseus holds his course tight against the cliffs of Scylla’s lair. As he and his men stare at Charybdis on the other side of the strait, the heads of Scylla swoop down and gobble up six of the sailors.

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Book 12 Summary, continued

Odysseus next comes to Thrinacia, the island of the Sun. He wants to avoid it entirely, but the outspoken Eurylochus persuades him to let his crew rest there. A storm keeps them beached for a month, and at first the crew is content to survive on its provisions in the ship. When these run out, however, Eurylochus persuades the other crew members to disobey Odysseus and slaughter the cattle of the Sun. They do so one afternoon as Odysseus sleeps; when the Sun finds out, he asks Zeus to punish Odysseus and his men. Shortly after the Achaeans set sail from Thrinacia, Zeus kicks up another storm, which destroys the ship and sends the entire crew to its death beneath the waves. As had been predicted, only Odysseus survives, and he just barely. The storm sweeps him all the way back to Charybdis, which he narrowly escapes for the second time. Afloat on the broken timbers of his ship, he eventually reaches Ogygia, Calypso’s island. Odysseus here breaks from his story, stating to the Phaeacians that he sees no reason to repeat to them his account of his experience on Ogygia.

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Emma Jones


very helpful!

Emily W





there's a few problems here and there and you've missed some key bits but that asides it's good

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