The Odyssey: GCSE OCR Notes

Key parts of the Odyssey GCSE explained, including essay questions and how to answer them.

  • Created by: shanij
  • Created on: 03-08-12 15:54

Essay: "The reason Odysseus lost all of his men is


  • Discuss his leadership as a whole: "Odysseus' leadership skills allow his and his men to complete the journey to Ithaca..."

Main paragraphs/Points to discuss:

  • Cyclops cave -> When deciding whether to kill Polyphemus, the large boulder in the way, calls himself Nobody, decides his men should go under the sheep.
  • Bag of winds -> Men open the bag, Odysseus should have told his men the contents.
  • Laestrygonians -> Odysseus should have shared his instict with the others. (The idea of keeping the boat away)
  • Lotus Eaters -> He asks his men to go rather than himself, Odysseus physically drags them back.
  • Scylla or Charbdis -> Six men killed.



  • Discuss overall opinion. Is he to blame? Choose a few examples, mention them being precise and short.
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Revision: Similarities and differences between the


  •  Both violent, both ate some of Odysseus' men
  • Both part of giant tribes
  • Both live in an area close by
  • Both giants and the rest of their tribes are giants
  • Both have livestock on their islands / Eg: Goats, sheeps etc.
  • Both have human type bodies/ Apart from Cyclopes only having one eye
  • Lack of xenia, gifts and hospitality for people.


  • Cyclopes only have one eye - Whereas the Laestrygonians have two
  • The Laestrygonians are civilised, the Cyclopes are not
  • Laestrygonians have families, Cyclopes live on their own
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Quick quiz: Questions


1. Another name for Greek

2. Aeolus' island

3. King of the Winds

4. What the Laestrygonians were

5. The witch that loves Odysseus

6. Adjective used to describe Hermes

7. Odysseus' home

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Quick quiz: Answers

1. Achaen


3. Aeolus

4. Gians

5. Circe

6. Giant Killer

7. Ithaca

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Important spellings

  • Odysseus
  • Poseidon
  • Zeus
  • Polyphemus
  • Cyclopes
  • Nausicaa
  • Scherie
  • Alcinous
  • Phaeacia
  • Xenia
  • Aeolus
  • Laestrygonians
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Essay: How helpful are women in the Odyssey

  • Main points:
  • Calypso -> captive, obeys Zeus/ Hermes, tools to build a raft, doesn't force him to stay
  • Circe -> Changes men into pigs, promised Odysseus she will do no harm, model hostess, years worth of xenia, makes men more handsome, does not hinder Odysseus when he says he wants to leave
  • Athene -> Arguing for release of Calypso, calm winds in storm, idea of keep swimming, grants the blessing of a soothing sleep, reaches shore safely. Appears in Nausicaa's dream, put courage in her heart, appears as a young girl when Odysseus heads to Alcinous' palace.
  • Nausicaa -> Helps Odysseus as a suppliant, provides hospitality, asks him to go on his own to avoid gossip.
  • Arete -> Sets Odysseus well prepared when he requests to go home.
  • Penelope! -> MOTIVATED Odysseus to do the journey in the first place!
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they weren't gians they were GIANTS



Useful but try adding more! Very plain. Keep up the good work though!

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