The Odyssey

HideShow resource information
  • Created by: Amber
  • Created on: 11-04-13 16:18

Book 1 - Athene Visits Telemachus

  • Starts with a passage to the Muses, asking for inspiration and help alongside this story.
  • We learn everyone from Troy has reached home apart from Odysseus who could not go as Calypso kept him in her "vaulted cave."
  • Poseidon is in Ethiopia, the "most remote part of the world."
  • Council of the Gods. They all discuss the murder of Aegisthus who was murdered by Orestes, Agamemnons son.
  • Athene wants to discuss Odysseus and how he is going to get home, knowing Poseidon isn't around might make it easier.
  • Zeus states that he could never "forget the admirable Odysseus" and agrees to free him soon.
  • We then get taken to Ithaca where Odysseus' son is amongst many Suitors wanting to marry his mother (Odysseus' wife, Penelope).
  • Athene disguises herself as Mentes, an old family friend of Odysseus' and gets offered xenia from Telemachus.
  • Telemachus says Odysseus has just vanished, he thinks the Gods must know something, he tells Athene/Mentes.
  • Athene plants spirit and daring into Telemachus and tells him to go on a trip to gather information about his fathers whereabouts.
  • Athene advises Telemachus to go to Pylos to see Nestor and Sparta to see Menelaus.
1 of 19

Book 5 - Calypso

  • Opens the same as Book 1, Council of the Gods.
  • Hermes is sent to Calypso's Island, Ogygia to instruct her to free Odysseus. 
  • Calypso's Island is described as being extremely beautiful, full of nature and free animals, Hermes found Calypso in her cave singing and at a loom.
  • Calypso gets very deffensive and annoyed when Hermes tells her she needs to let Odysseus go.
  • Odysseus' "eyes were wet with weeping, as they always were" as he was sitting on the beach.
  • Calypso tells him she can let him go now and instructs him to make a raft from the trees around the island. She says she will stock him up with bread, water and wine along with clothing and a helping wind so he can get home safely.
  • Odysseus is clearly happy and Calypso gets upset. She offers him to be a God if he stays with her but he says he really wants to go home to his wife: "wise Penelope."
  • Odysseus makes the raft (techne) and leaves the island on it.
  • Poseidon is back from Ethiopia and sends a storm to not kill, but delay Odysseus on his travels.
  • Nymph Ino/Leucothoe gives Odysseus a magical veil which will keep him alive and protect him from drowning until he reaches shore. He must throw it into the sea afterwards. 
2 of 19

Book 6 - Nausicaa

  • Athene appears to Nausicaa in her sleep and gives her an idea about marriage disguised as the Daughter of Dymas, in the city of Scherie.
  • In the morning, Nausicaa goes to ask her father if she can go to the river to wash some slothes.
  • She and her maids play a ball game whilst at the river, the girls shriek as they play.
  • Odysseus wakes up on a mystery island and gathers branches to cover him as he is naked. Good example of techne.
  • Odysseus asks if Nausicaa is the Goddess Artemis and flatters her. Makes a quick reference to the Palm Tree's in Delos so she gets an idea that he is a soldier.
  • Nausicaa offers him xenia and gives him food, drink and an opportunity to wash. She then gives him a fresh tunic to wear.
  • Athene changes his appearance to make him more handsome (the first time she does this), makes his hair "as thick as petals of a hyacinth" and his body "just as a craftsmen trained by Hephaestus."
  • Nausicaa says he should come to the city, but not enter alongside her in case people gossip about her.
  • She gives him instructions: go to Arete [the Queen], as she is the one to beg for anything.
  • Odysseus prays for help with the Phaeacians from Athene.
3 of 19

Book 7 - The Palace of Alcinous

  • As Odysseus enters the city, he is hidden by a cloud of fog Athene has placed over him.
  • Athene is disguised as a little girl and acts as his tour gide of Scherie. She informs him about the King and Queen.
  • Arete [Queen] and Alcinous [King] are equaly powerful and he should beg Arete for anything if he needs something.
  • The Palace is made from gold, silver and bronze and guarded by silver dogs.
  • Odysseus clutches Aretes knees then sits in the hearth like a dog - saying he is as low as a dog.
  • Alcinous says the next day they will let Odysseus have a lift in their amazing ship that rows itself anywhere ("to the ends of the earth") very quickly.
  • Arete asks who he is and he responds by giving the truthfull story of how he got to Scherie from Ogygia (Calypso's Island). Not mentioning his name though as their favoured God is Poseidon. He tells the story of the morning and how he met Nausicaa.
  • Nausicaa is critisized by Alcinous for not giving him a ride into the city, but Odysseus lies and said he chose to walk, it was not Nausicaa's fault. 
  • Alcinous is so impressed with Odysseus, he offers him his daughters hand in marriage, he politely declines - he has Penelope waiting for him at home.
4 of 19

Book 8 - The Phaeacian Games

  • Odysseus and Alcinous awoke the same time and they both took a stroll to the place that all men of the city held meetings.
  • Athene, disguised as a herald went through the town telling everybody Alcinous was holding a grand meeting about a King who has just arrived and "looks like an immortal God."
  • Alcinous, at the assembly, announced he wanted "52 young oarsmen" and invited everyone else to a massive banquet at his home where a singer/bard will sing tales to entertain them for the day. (His name is Demodocus and is blind - is this character supposed to be Homer...?)
  • The first story the bard sang was about Troy. This moved Odysseus and covered his crying face under his purple cloak.
  • Alcinous noticed how distressed Odysseus was getting so proposed everyone should go outside and do sports.
  • The first event was a race, next a round of wrestling, after that jumping, then discus and boxing.
  • They then asked Odysseus to join in after an argument with Euryalus (the winner of wrestling) aggreed to join in and threw the biggest discus the furthest.
  • Athene pretending to be one of the crowd marked out the distance and stated how amazing Odysseus is.
5 of 19

Book 8.2 - The Phaeacian Games Cont.

  • After this, Odysseus has a bit of a rant saying how amazing he is at every sport but blames the storm at sea he was caught in for injuring his legs so he couldn't join in fully.
  • Alcinous calls everyone back inside to listen to another one of Demodocus' tales.
  • Demodocus tells the tale of the adulterous Athene and Ares and how they got caught out in front of all the Gods.
  • When the tale is over, Alcinous suggested everyone should give Odysseus guest gifts, he recieves items such as a cloak, a new tunic, gold and a silver sword.
  • After Odysseus had said thank you, he went off to take a bath.
  • Nausicaa approached Odysseus after his bath and asked him not to forget her when he leaves. He promises he never will and will pray to her like she is a God.
  • Odysseus comes back to the main hall where Alcinous asks Demodocus to sing yet another tale.
  • This time he speaks about the Wooden Horse at Troy which upsets Odysseus again.
  • Odysseus' crying is described in a simile "as a woman weeps when she throws her arms round the body of her beloved husband, fallen at battle..."
  • Alcinous spotted Odysseus' tears again and stopped the singing again.
  • Alcinous then asked who Odysseus was, and "where have you been driven in your wanderings?"
6 of 19

Book 9 - The Cyclops

  • Odysseus has been asked to tell the story of his wanderings... Here we go!
  • Odysseus starts by telling the Phaeacians who he is and where he is from. Son of Laertes, Ithaca... etc.
  • First after Troy, Odysseus and his men took a trip to Ismarus, City of the Cicones. They sacked the city and destroyed the menfolk. Some of his men wanted to stay as there was plenty wine and livestock for the men to enjoy. The remaining Cicones gathered neighbouring towns to make an army against Odysseus and his men and six men from each ship were killed.
  • When they left, Zeus sent down loads of clouds so no land or sea could be seen from the ships.
  • Odysseus and the men reached the country of the Lotus-Eaters. They feasted on the island and some of the men ate some of the Lotus fruit. The fruit had drugged the sailors and all they wanted to do was stay on the island with the Lotus-Eaters.
  • Odysseus tied up the most drugged up of his men and dragged them onto the ship so they could depart.
  • They then came to the land of the Cyclopes, who never had to do any farming as the Gods did it all for them.
  • Odysseus took wine from Ismarus with to meet the Cyclopes as a guest gift as his men begged to just steal the divine foods but Odysseus said no.
7 of 19

Book 9.2 - The Cyclops Cont.

  • The men lit a fire and made an offering to the Gods as they stole some of the cheeses then went to the Cyclops' cave to wait for him.
  • The Cyclops finally came to the cave, shutting the men in by putting a massive slab of rock over the entrance.
  • The Cyclops then spotted the men and questioned them. The men said why they were there etc.
  • The men explained that they prayed to Zeus before eating and it is up to the Cyclops to offer them xenia.
  • The Cyclops stated they don't care for Zeus or the Gods.
  • Odysseus said that his ship was destroyed by Poseidon nearby his island so they had to swim here for safety.
  • The Cyclops said nothing but picked up two of Odysseus' men and smacked their heads on the floor, their brains ran out onto the ground. The Cyclops tore the men apart making them his meal. Once the Cyclops was done, he stretched himself out along the floor to rest.
  • At first, Odysseus thought about killing the Cyclops but then remembered the rock covering the entrance.
  • As the Cyclops woke in the morning, he removed the rock with no effort at all and milked his cattle.
8 of 19

Book 9.3 - The Cyclops Cont.

  • Odysseus spotted a staff made from olive-wood which the Cyclops used as a wand. To Odysseus, it was as big as a "mast of some black ship with 20 oars"
  • They sharpened the end of it to a point and hid it in the dung in the cave.
  • Odysseus' plan was to twist it into the Cyclops' eye when he was asleep, blinding him.
  • The Cyclops came back that evening and once again, placed the rock over the entrance of the cave.
  • Odysseus offered the Cyclops the wine after killing two more of Odysseus' men, hoping he'd have mercy on them.
  • The Cyclops asked for more wine and asked for Odysseus' name so he can get him a guest gift himself. Odysseus says his name is Nobody, and the Cyclops promises to eat him last. The Cyclops then went to sleep.
  • The men seized the olive pole and drove the sharpened end into the Cyclops' eye.
  • The Cyclops shreiked and called to the other Cyclopes' to come and help him, they said no as Polyphemus, the main Cyclops said Nobody was hurting him - ha!
  • Odysseus told Polyphemus his real name and Polyphemus then remembered the prophet that Odysseus would come along and take his sight. Says he is the son of Poseidon.
  • Odysseus and his men successfully escaped taking some of the Cyclops' belongings with them.
9 of 19

Book 10 - Circe

  • Next, Odysseus came along to the Island of Aeolia, home of King Aeolus, who had six daughters and six sons.
  • Aeolus gave Odysseus a gift, a leather bag with winds inside, Zeus had put him in charge of the winds so he could use them at his own will to get somewhere.
  • On the tenth day of sailing, they could see Ithaca in the distance and whilst Odysseus was asleep, his men un-tied the bag and the winds flew all out, blowing them away from Ithaca. Odysseus was obviously very angry.
  • They blew back to Aeolia where King Aeolus had a go at Odysseus, saying if he was blown back this way, clearly the Gods disliked him and they should get off his island immediately.
  • They sailed on for 6 days when they came accross the land of the Laestrygonians.
  • All of the ships but Odysseus' sailed into the harbour, sending two men and a messenger to go onto the land and investigate.
  • The Laestrygonians were massive giants ("more like Giants than men") who ate the men in the harbour like "fishes on a spear." Odysseus and the men sailed away as quick as they could.
  • They then came to the island Aeaea, home of Circe, daughter of the Sun. Odysseus and his men could see smoke rising from Circes house in the forest. They killed and ate a stag on the island.
10 of 19

Book 10.2 - Circe Cont.

  • After they ate, Odysseus split his men into two groups, he was the leader of one group and Eurylochus the leader of another. Eurylochus' group headed over to Circes house first, she invited them in and all but Eurylochus went inside.
  • Circe made the men a mixture to eat, made from cheese, barley-meal and yellow honey flavoured with wine. Inside, she put a drug that made them lose the memory of Ithaca and where they were going (Lotus-Eaters reference...?). She then turned the men into pigs, although they still had the minds of their previous human selves.
  • Eurylochus went back to the ship to tell Odysseus and the remaining men what had happened.
  • Odysseus was on his way to the house to see Circe for himself when Hermes pulled him over (away from the other men, of course). Hermes told him to eat a herb named Moly, drink her potion like the other men did, then rush at Circe with his sword and make her swear an oath not to play any tricks on him.
  • Odysseus did so, then demanded for his men to be turned back to humans from pigs, Circe did so by smearing an ointment on the men and they turned back to their previous selves but more handsome and youthfull than before.
  • A year later after they had some fun, Circe gave instructions to Odysseus on how to get home.
11 of 19

Book 10.3 - Circe Cont.

  • She said first he must go to the home of Hades and Persephone, the Land of the Dead to talk to the soul named Teiresias, a blind prophet. He will tell Odysseus what to do.
  • When Odysseus gets to Persephones grove, he must dig a trench as long and wide as a mans forearm. Pour in offerings to the dead, a mixture of honey and milk, then wine and water. Over that, sprinkle some barley and pray to the ghosts and spirits.
  • After this, sacrafice a ram and black ewe holding their heads down whilst Odysseus' head is to the side, facing the river. Then pray to Hades and Persephone and the ghosts will start to appear.
  • After she told him the instructions, everyone on the island had a bit of a leaving party and Elpenor, one of Odysseus' men got a bit drunk and fell off the roof of Circes house in the morning, breaking his neck and his "soul going to Hades."
12 of 19

Book 11 - The Book of the Dead

  • Odysseus travels to the underworld and follows Circes instructions.
  • The first spirit Odysseus sees, is one of his former men, Elpenor who died on Aeaea after falling off the roof. They had forgotten to bury him so Elpenor just asked to be buried.. 
  • After that, they see who they came looking for: Teiresias, the blind prophet. He drinks the blood of their sacrafice and says that his men must leave the cattle alone on the Island of Thrinacie, if they want to leave the island alive. Then, "You will reach home late, in a wretched state, upon a foreign ship, having lost all your comrades."
  • He then says there will be Suitors at his home and he has to kill all of them. Once this is done, go inland to the people who know nothing about the sea and teach them of the God Poseidon. This is how Odysseus will get earn Poseidons respect again. He must also offer a ram, bull and breeding-boar to Poseidon then go home and pray to every God/dess.
  • Next, Odysseus spotted his mother and spoke to her about her death: he didn't know she was dead. She tells him she died of grief and his father is going the same way.
  • A quick break into the present, Odysseus checks with the Phaeacians that they are all getting it.
  • Back to Hades, Odysseus see's Agamemnon and he tells him not to trust women and what happened to him. Gives him advice for going home.
13 of 19

Book 11.2 - The Book of the Dead Cont.

  • Agamemnon tells him to sneak into Ithaca and don't sail into the open harbour, make a secret approach.
  • Achilles is next to talk to Odysseus and tells him that dying young and with glory isn't all that great. He says he would rather live a life as an "impoverished peasant than be King to all these lifeless dead."
  • Then he asks Ajax, son of Telamon to forgive him for their fight in Troy.
  • The souls all come to drink the blood and Odysseus and his men all run back to the ship ready to sail back to Aeaea to bury Elpenor on his request.
14 of 19

Book 12 - Scylla and Charybdis

  • Odysseus and his men are back in Aeaea to recover and bury Elpenors body.
  • Circe then gives Odysseus directions for the way back to Ithaca.
  • First, she tells him about the Sirens and advises his men to put beeswax in their ears to drown the noise of their songs. Odysseus should tie himself to the mast so he can listen to their singing and not die.
  • Next up is the two courses he can take to get back home, he can either go through The Wandering Rocks, rocks that move about and smash every ship that sails through or he can go through the other course which contains two monsters, Scylla, a six headed monster who lives in a cave and eats humans. Or Charybdis who lives under a whirlpool in the sea and will **** in sea water then spit it out again, three times a day. Odysseus will either lose 6 of his men if he sails through next to Scylla or lose all his men if he sails next to Charybdis. There is no choice.
  • Then Circe tells Odysseus about the island of the Sun God, Thrinacie. There is cattle on the island which belongs to Hyperion. Under no circumstances must the men kill and/or eat the cattle unless they all want to die - just like Teiresias said in the last book.
  • Circe then says "you will reach home late, in a wretched state, having lost all your comrades" - Teiresias' prophecy!!
  • In the morning, the men set off on their ship to confront the Sirens first. Odysseus didn't tell his men about the fact 6+ of them may die.
15 of 19

Book 12.2 - Scylla and Charybdis Cont.

  • They first sailed past the Sirens and the men did what Circe instructed them to do. They put the warm wax in their ears to drown the sounds of the Sirens voices. Odysseus was strapped to the mast so he could listen and not die.
  • The Sirens tried to lure him over by telling him about their knowledge of what happened in Troy, Odysseus wanted to go over but his men stopped him by tying him even tighter to the mast.
  • They all survived as they sailed onwards towards Scylla. Odysseus told his men not to worry and then broke Circes rule and put his armour on, hoping to injure Scylla.
  • All the men got distracted by Charybdis vomiting on the other side of them when Scylla reached down and grabbed six of the men.
  • They quickly sailed away from the monsters towards Hyperions "lovely" island.
  • Odysseus told his men to sail past and not stop on the island. Eurylochus made a speech saying that they should stop and all the other men clapped and agreed. Odysseus had no choice but to stop on the island.
  • All the men fed on the natural things on the island - not the cattle - and quenched their thirst ready to move on. On the fourth morning, they were ready to leave when the winds started to blow their ship the wrong way so they decided to stay on the island a little longer.
  • Odysseus went inland to pray when Eurylochus decided to make another speech.
16 of 19

Book 12.3 - Scylla and Charybdis Cont.

  • Eurylochus decided it would be a good idea to sacrafice some of the finest cows on the island then eat them so they would starve to death. Once they got home they could make a temple to Hyperion with loads of offerings - Odysseus doesn't know about their plan as he is off praying.
  • Odysseus came back from a nap to find all the men had cut open some of the cattle and started to cook them, Odysseus flipped.
  • Lampetie, a minor Goddess ran to Hyperion and the other Gods to tell them what had happened and to take vengence on Odysseus and his men.
  • For 6 more days the men continued to feast on the remainding meat, on the 7th the men started to pack up ready to leave the island when Zeus sent a massive storm to wreck the ship and all of its men - apart from Odysseus of course.
  • Before Odysseus knew it, he was without a ship and on the way back to Scylla and Charybdis.
  • Odysseus managed to grab a fig-tree which hung over Charybdis when the monster spat up some of the contents of his boat which he clung to and paddled away as quick as he could.
  • 9 days drifting in the ocean when on the 10th Odysseus finally spotted the island Ogygia belonging to the minor Goddess, Calypso who kept him captive for 7 years.
17 of 19

Book 13 - Odysseus Lands in Ithaca

  • The tale of Odysseus' wanderings was finished.
  • The next day, they threw Odysseus a leaving party by sacraficing an ox to Zeus and listened to the songs sung by Demodocus.
  • Odysseus thanked the Phaeacians and Alcinous lead him to the ship along with three serving women, one carrying bread and wine, another carrying a cloak and tunic and the last carrying Odysseus' strong box.
  • Odysseus fell asleep on the boat and the Phaeacian men carried him out of the ship on a rug and placed him in Phorcys Cave - a cave with two mouths, one for humans and one for immortals. They hid all of Odysseus' gifts and treasure near him but hidden enough that no one would see and try to mug him.
  • The Phaeacian ship left Ithaca, whilst Poseidon was very annoyed with his people for helping out his enemy.
  • Alcinous had previously mentioned a prophecy that a prophet had told his people many years ago, one day the Gods would get annoyed with the people of Scherie for being too nice. The Gods will turn their ship to stone and grow tall mountains all around the island so they can no longer leave their land.
  • Poseidon asked Zeus if he could fulfill this prophecy but Zeus said he could only do one of the two things, Poseidon chose to turn the travelling ship to stone.
  • Alcinous just remembered the prophecy as it happened.
18 of 19

Book 13.2 - Odysseus Lands in Ithaca

  • Odysseus wakes up on what he thought was a strange island as Athene had covered all he could see with cloud and mist, he thinks this land is not "sunny Ithaca."
  • Athene now appears to him, disguised as a young shephard to test him. She asks who he is and tells him that he is in Ithaca.
  • Odysseus makes up an elaborate story about being a hunted man from Crete who fought in the Trojan War and just escaped a ship of pirates.
  •  Odysseus had passed the test of lying about his identity and Athene emerged as her true self and told Odysseus that he passed and could now go into the city.
  • She tells him about the situation with the suitors and tells him that he needs a plan to kill them all.
  • Athene advises him to go see Eumaeus the swine herd in his hut and she then transforms Odysseus into the form of an old beggar to disguise him.
19 of 19


No comments have yet been made

Similar Classical Civilization resources:

See all Classical Civilization resources »