The Odyssey

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Characters - Helpful

Odysseus - The protagonist and King of Ithaca who is returning from the Trojan war

Telemachus - The son of Odysseus

Penelope - Odysseus' wife who remains faithful to him during his long absence

Athene - The Goddess of wisdom whom is very fond of Odysseus and assist him on his journey

Zeus - The King of the Gods 

Eumaeus - The loyal swineherd who lives in Ithaca

Eurycleia - The loyal nursemaid in Ithaca

Laertes - Odysseus' aging father

Menelaus and Helen - King of Sparta and his wife over whom the Trojan war was fought

Nausicaa - Daughter of Arete and Alcinous

Alcinous and Arete - the King and Queen of Phaecia

Tiresias - Theban prophet who lives in the Underworld

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Characters - Hinderance

Poseidon - the God of the Sea who hates Odysseus for blinding his son

Antinous - The head Suitor who is the first person Odysseus kills upon his return to Ithaca

Eurymachus  - the most manipulative of all the Suitors and the second to die

Amphinomus - the decent Suitor

Melanthius - The treacherous goatherd

Melantho - The treacherous maidservant who gives weapons to the Suitors

Calypso - The nymph who lives on the island of Ogygia who kidnaps Odysseus for seven years

Circe - Witch Goddess who turns Odysseus' men into pigs

Polyphemus - The Cyclops who eats several of Odysseus' crew members

Eurylochus - member of Odysseus' crew who convinces the others to consume the cattle of the Sun god

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The policy of guest friendship

The Suitors abuse xenia - "insolent" and "eating me out of house and home".

Telemachus dispalys good xenia towards Athene disguised as Mentes in book one when he invites her in and gives her food and wine.

The Phaecians display excellent xenia towards Odysseus when he stays with them as they hold a feast in his honour as well as a day of sports and give him expensive gifts.

Circe at first displays poor xenia as she turns the crew into pigs but once Odysseus has threatened her she displays much better xenia as she allows them to remain on her island and makes sure they have plenty of food and wine.

Melantho shows terrible xenia towards Odysseus when he is disguised in Ithaca - "off with you wretch"

Penelope displays good xenia towards Odysseus when he is disguised as a beggar in book 19.

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Gods and Goddesses

Zeus - King of the Gods and head of the Olympian council. He is also the God of Thunder and Justice

Epithets - King of Kings, King of the Gods, Son of Kronos

Poseidon - God of the sea, horses and earthquakes

Epithets - Earthshaker, Stormbringer

Athene - Virgin goddess of wisdom, handicrafts and strategic warfare

Epithet - Goddess of the Flashing Eyes

Hermes - Messenger of the Gods, God of mischeif, travellers, commerce and theives

Epithet - Giantkiller

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Odysseus' Epithets

That resourceful man

Luckless man

That godlike man

Long enduring Odysseus

Thoughtful Odysseus

Sacker of Cities

Tactful Odysseus

Good Odysseus

Cunning Odysseus

Shrewd Odysseus

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Book One (Athene visits Telemachus)

  • Begins with the assembly of the Gods on Olympus
  • Poseidon is absent as he is visiting Ethiopia
  • Athene requests that Zeus allow Odysseus assistance
  • Hermes is sent to Ogygia to get Calypso to let Odysseus go
  • Athene goes to Ithaca to speak with Telemachus disguised as Mentes
  • Odysseus' home has been taken over by the Suitors
  • Athene tells Telemachus to visit Menelaus and Nestor to try and gather informtion on his father
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Book Five (Calypso)

  • All of the gods except for Poseidon meet again on Olympus
  • Hermes is sent to Ogygia to help Odysseus
  • Hermes tells Calypso that it is Zeus' will that Odysseus is released
  • Calypso complains about the immortal sexual double standard
  • Calypso locates Odysseus weeping at the shore and tells him that he may leave the island
  • Odysseus builds a raft and Calypso gives him supplies
  • Odysseus spends eighteen days at sea but then Poseidon returns from Ethiopia and sees Odysseus so sends a storm
  • Ino helps Odysseus make it safely to Phaecia
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Book Six (Nausicaa)

  • Athene visits Nausicaa in her dreams and tells her to go to the river to wash her clothes in order to find a husband
  • The next morning Nausicaa takes some maids down to the river
  • Their screams while playing with a ball awaken a naked Odysseus
  • Odysseus uses his skill with words to get Nausicaa to give him clothes and directions to the palace
  • Odysseus prays to Athene before setting out for the palace
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Book Seven (The Palace of Alcinous)

  • On the way to the palace he is stopped by Athene (disguised as a yound girl) who advises him to take his plea to Queen Arete
  • She shrouds him in a protective mist before leaving for Athens
  • Odysseus finds the palace holding a festival for their patron god, Poseidon
  • Upon seeing Arete he throws himself at her knees
  • Alcinous promises to provide him aid in his journey
  • Arete questions him on where he got the clothes from
  • Alcinous offers Odysseus his daughters hand in marriage
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Book Eight (The Phaecian Games)

  • The King has a feast in honour of his guest
  • Demodicus the bard sings of Troy which causes Odysseus to weep
  • The games include boxing, wrestling, running and discus
  • Odysseus takes part and throws the heaviest discus further than any of the other participants after one of the Phaecians insults him by calling him a trade merchant
  • Another feast is held and all the Phaecians give Odysseus a gift
  • Demodocus sings of Troy a second time and once again Odysseus weeps
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Book Nine (The Cyclops)

  • Odysseus begins to talk about his travels
  • First he talks about the sacking of the Cicones
  • Then a storm sent by Zeus sends them off course for nine days
  • They then arrive at the island of the Lotus Eaters
  • The Lotus fruits cause the crew to forget who they are before Odysseus saves them
  • They then travel to the island of the Cyclops where they enter Polyphemus' cave and eat him cheese
  • Polyphemus returns to the cave and eats several members of Odysseus' crew
  • They blind the Cyclops while he is asleep with a hot olive branch and escape the cave by clinging on to the bellies of the sheep
  • When on the ships Odysseus calls out to Polyphemus and reveals his name bringing down the wrath of Poseidon upon him and his crew
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Book Ten (Circe)

  • Odysseus and his crew arrive at the island of Aeolus who gifts Odysseus with a bag of winds
  • Ten days later they are nearing Ithaca when the crew decide to open the bag while Odysseus is sleeping which sends them back to Aeolus' island
  • Aeolus refuses to assist them a second time
  • They row to the island of the Laestrygonians who eat Odysseus' scouts
  • The Laestrygonians pelt the ships with rocks and only Odysseus' ship makes it away from the island
  • From there they travel to Aeaea where Circe lives
  • Circe turns all of the crew into pigs and Hermes gives Odysseus moly to protect him from Circes magic
  • He forces Circe at swordpoint to turn the crew back and then they have sex
  • Circe tells Odysseus that he needs to travel to the Underworld to speak to the prophet Tiresias
  • Elpenor falls from the roof breaking his neck and they set out to Hades
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Book Eleven (The Book of the Dead)

  • They arrive in Hades and Odysseus offers the libations as per Circe's instructions
  • Elpenor begs Odysseus to give his body the correct burial rites upon his return to Circe's island
  • Tiresias tells Odysseus that he will make it back to Ithaca but should not eat the cattle of the Sun god
  • He speaks to his mother who tells him that Penelope has remained faithful to him
  • He then speaks to several famous women 
  • He then speaks to Agamemnon who warm him of the treachery of women
  • Then Achilles tells him that it is better to be the slave of a slave than king of all the lifeless dead
  • He speaks to those undergoing punishment in the Underworld such as Tantalus
  • They then sail away to Circe's island
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Book Twelve (Scylla and Charybdis)

  • He buries Elpenor and spends one last night with Circe
  • She tells him of all of the dangers and obstacles he will come across on his journey home
  • They come to the island of the Sirens where all of the crew plug their ears with wax while Odysseus is tied to the mast so that he may hear their song as they safely pass by the island
  • As they pass by Scylla and Charybdis, Scylla eats six of the crew members 
  • They arrive at Thrinacia where they are stuck for a month due to a storm
  • Eventually the men led by Eurylochus eat the cattle while Odysseus is asleep
  • They leave the island but Zeus hits their ship with a lightning bolt as punishment for eating the Sun gods cattle
  • Only Odysseus survives and is stranded on Ogygia
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Book Thirteen (Arriving in Ithaca)

  • The next day Odysseus and his gifts go on a ship to Ithaca
  • He sleeps during the journey and the Phaecians place him on the shore
  • Poseidon turns the Phaecian ship into stone as punishment for their helping Odysseus
  • Odysseus wakes but does not recognize the land as Athene has concealed Ithaca in mist
  • Athene (disguised as a shepard) tells his that he is on Ithaca
  • She reveals her identity to him and they come up with a plot to kill the Suitors
  • She tells him to first go to Eumaeus
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Book Fourteen (In Eumaeus Hut)

  • Odysseus finds Eumaeus outside his hut
  • Eumaeus invites him into the hut
  • Eumaeus gives him food, wine and his beg
  • Odysseus tells him he is from Crete
  • He tells Eumaeus that Odysseus will soon return
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Book Sixteen (Meeting Telemachus)

  • When Telemachus reaches Eumaeus' hut he finds him talking to Odysseus
  • Telemachus sends Eumaeus to tell Penelope of his return to Ithaca
  • Athene removes Odysseus' disguise
  • At first Telemachus does not believe it but then they plot the Suitors downfall
  • The messenger from the ship gets to the house before Eumaeus and tells everyone of Telemachus' return
  • The Suitors plot Telemachus' death and Penelope overhears
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Book Eighteen (The Beggar in the Palace)

  • Odysseus warns Amphinomus of his return telling him to leave quickly though this warning is ignored
  • Melantho insults Odysseus who threatens her in return
  • Eurymachus insults him and throws a chair at his head
  • Telemachus stops a fight from breaking out
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Book Nineteen (Eurycleia recognizes Odysseus)

  • Odysseus and Telemachus hid the arms telling Eurycleia that they are doing it to prevent any damage 
  • Penelope questions Odysseus about meeting Odysseus
  • He tells Penelope that Odysseus will soon return
  • Eurycleia cleans Odysseus' feet and recognizes him due to a scar
  • Penelope decies she will marry whoever can shoot an arrow through twelve axe heads
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Book Twenty One (The Great Bow)

  • Telemachus fails to string the bow 
  • The Suitors warm and grease the bow but they all fail to string it
  • Meanwhile Odysseus tells Eumaeus and Philoetius who he really is
  • Odysseus asks for the bow and the Suitors all complain
  • Telemachus tells Eumaeus to give the bow to Odysseus who strings it and shoots the arrow through all twelve axeheads
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Book Twenty Two (The Battle in the Hall)

  • Odysseus shoots a second arrow through Antinous' neck
  • Odysseus reveals who he is 
  • Eurymachus is the next to die then Telemachus spears Amphinomus
  • Melanthius gets the Suitors weapons from the store room but Eumaeus catches him and ties him up
  • Athene arrives and supports Odysseus
  • Everyone except Phemius (bard) and Medon (herald) are killed
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Book Twenty Three (Odysseus and Penelope)

  • Eurycleia wakes Penelope and tells her of Odysseus' return but she does not believe it
  • Odysseus get the minstil to sing a happy song so no one will know what has happened 
  • Penelope tests Odysseus using the wedding bed
  • Odysseus passes the test and they have sex
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