Classical Civilisation: The Odyssey

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What was the name of the main character in the Odyssey?
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What were the names of Odysseus's wife and son?
Penelope and Telemachus.
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Odysseus was the king of what island nation?
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What attributes does Odysseus portray which support the suggestion that Odysseus is a hero?
Intelligence, bravery, prowess, he receives divine help, patience, pride, sensualness, and disloyalty.
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In what ways does Odysseus display intelligence during the poem?
Book 6 upon meeting Nausicaa he says, "Are you some goddess or a mortal woman?", he comes up with an eloquent speech on the spot. Book 7, knew how to put Alcinous ease by saying, "We men are naturally suspicious.", and complimenting his daughter.
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What does Odysseus do in book 9 which is also an indicator of his intelligence?
He very quickly comes up with a cunning plan to deceive the cyclops, Polyphemus. The fact that he chooses to only blind the cyclops and not kill him shows he is quick thinking. He also uses the rams to escape.
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What other qualities does Odysseus portray when he blinds Polyphemus?
Bravery. It also displays his prowess as blinding the cyclops was a very intelligent thing to do and it displayed his heroic skill.
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What is one way in which Odysseus shows bravery when passing Scylla?
He puts on his armour when sailing past, even though he knows it will do nothing to help.
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Which goddess helps Odysseus throughout the Odyssey?
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In what ways does she come to Odysseus's aid?
She persuades Zeus to send Hermes to tell Calypso to release Odysseus from Ogygia. When he arrives at Scherie, she tells him to hold on to the rocks. She directly assists him by disguising herself as the girl and leading him to the palace.
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What sea nymph also assists Odysseus by lending him a veil when he is caught in turbulent waters to protect him from the jagged shoreline?
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On what three separate occasions does Hermes assist Odysseus?
He delivers a message to Calypso to let him return home, he appears to Odysseus to warn him about Circe and provides the necessary information he needs to put Circe into submission.
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When we first meet Odysseus he is crying, his eyes "wet with tears" on a beach looking out towards where he thinks Ithaca is. What does this immediately tell us about Odysseus?
He is much enduring and has suffered greatly. It also tells us that he is very nostalgic and has wanted to return home for a long time, but couldn't, and thus shows he is patient.
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What does Odysseus do in the cyclops cave which shows he is patient?
Even whilst Polyphemus was eating Odysseus's men, Odysseus did not kill the cyclops immediately, as he knew he had to wait for the cyclops to move the enormous boulder blocking the entrance to the cave, otherwise they would not have escaped.
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Odysseus heroic proud, sensual, and disloyal qualities have let him down throughout the poem. In what way does his pride let him down in the cyclops scene?
If Odysseus would have swallowed his pride, taken the cheese, and left, he would have saved the lives of many men. Instead, he choose to stay and eat the free cheese and milk, and was trapped when the cyclops return.
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In the Odyssey, Odysseus is disloyal to his wife Penelope as he cheats on her with two different women. Who were these women?
Circe and Calypso.
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What is Odysseus's most distinguishable trait?
His intellect.
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Like other Homeric heroes, what are the two things Odysseus longs for more than anything else?
Kleos(fame) and nostos(homecoming).
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What is Odysseus characterised as being in the Odyssey?
Strong, angry, crafty, sensitive, pious, much enduring, and eloquent.
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How can we see Odysseus is a strong character?
His friend Euylochos says to him, "You are a hard man Odysseus. Your force is greater, your limbs never wear out. You must be made of iron".
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Not only do we clearly see Odysseus's pride in the cyclops scene, but we also see Odysseus is an angry character. When is this and what does he do?
When Odysseus is sailing away, he taunts the cyclops saying,Cyclops, if any mortal man ever asks you who it was that inflicted upon your eye this shameful blinding, tell him that you were blinded by Odysseus, sacker of cities. Laertes is his father."
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Why do we see an angry side to Odysseus upon his arrival home?
Because he sees many of his servants sneaking off to sleep with the suitors. His, "spirit deep in [his] heart […] was stirred by this, and much he pondered in the division of mind and spirit, whether to spring on them and kill each one...".
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Odysseus is very craft. What does he tell the Cyclops which supports this?
Odysseus tell Polyphemus his name is Nobody, which makes him look very stupid when, after being blinded by Odysseus, the cyclops screams for hell saying he was "blinded by nobody".
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What does Homer do which also shows he is crafty?
Homer uses epithets to help the audience remember the character, and refers to Odysseus as "crafty Odysseys" and "wily Odysseus".
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How can we see that Odysseus is a sensitive man when he is dining with the Phaeacians?
He begins to cry when the bard sings of the Trojan War.
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How can we see that Odysseus is pious?
He sacrifices a ram to Zeus, he prays to the river god a the Phaeacians, and he explains his misfortunes by saying, "so it has pleased Zeus to arrange it".
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Who is Calypso?
Calypso is the goddess who inhabits the island of Ogygia. She keeps Odysseus on her island against his will for purposes of sex.
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How long was Odysseus on Ogygia?
Seven years.
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How can Calypso be described?
She is hospitable, divine, caring, wealthy, persuasive, controlling, loving, and immortal.
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What help does Calypso offer Odysseus?
She shows him the trees to make a boat, she gives him clothes, food, water, and wine, she gave him favourable winds, she directs him to wear it is he must go to get home, she gives him an axe to cut down the trees.
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Who is Nausicaa?
She is Princess of the Phaeacians. Daughter of Alcinuous and Arete.
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Where does Odysseus meet Nausicaa and what does she do?
He meets her on Scherie. She bathes him(not personally), oils him, clothes him, and offers him directions to the palace. She lets Odysseus follow behind her wagon.
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Who are Alcinuous and Arete?
King and Queen of the Phaeacians.
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Are the Phaeacians civilised?
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How does Homer show Phaeacian society to be perfectly civilised?
They show an immeasurable amount of hospitality towards Odysseus by providing the finest roof over his head, clothes on his back, and food for him to eat. The Phaeacians have divine connections. Display perfect xenia to Odysseus.
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What god is the father of Polyphemus?
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What is the relationship like between Odysseus and Polyphemus?
There is no relationship between them. Polyphemus eats Odysseus's men, curses Odysseus, and Odysseus blinds him.
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Who are the Sirens?
The Sirens are mythological creatures who lure sailors into the sea to drown or cause wrecks upon the cliffs to reach them. They are beautiful half-woman, half-birdlike creatures who sing beautiful songs, this being their way of luring men to them.
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Who is Scylla?
Scylla is a six-headed monster that lived on a narrow channel above the waters of Charybdis.
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What is Charybdis?
A large whirlpool.
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What roles do Poseidon and Athene play in the Odyssey?
Athene is Odysseus's patron and Poseidon his nemesis.
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Who comes to Odysseus's aid when on the island of Aeaea?
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What does he do?
He gives Odysseus a drug which will act as an antidote to Circe's enchantments.
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On what occasion does the goddess Ino come to Odysseus's aid?
When Odysseus's ship is destroyed in the storm created by Poseidon, she gives him a veil and advises him to let go of the remains of the raft and swim in order to protect him from the jagged shoreline.
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What does Athene do on the island of Scherie?
She provides an olive bush under which Odysseus shelters when he washes up on shore. She provides the olive branch Odysseus uses to cover himself upon meeting Nausicaa.
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Who persuades Zeus at the council in book 5 to release Odysseus?
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What curse does Polyphemus ask his father to bestow upon Odysseus?
For him to never arrive home, however if he should, it will be in another mans ship, having lost his crew, only to find problems in his home.
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Who lives on the island of Scherie?
The Phaeacians(Alcinuous, Arete, and Nausicaa).
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Who lives on the island of Ogygia?
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Who lives on the island of Aeolia?
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Who are the Laestrygonians?
A tribe of giant cannibals.
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On what island do they live?
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Who lived on the island of Thrinacie?
Hyperion, the sun god.
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What happened on this island?
Odysseus's crew ate the sun god's cattle, even after swearing an oath that they would not.
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How were they punished for doing this?
By Poseidon and Zeus's storm which killed all but Odysseus.
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Which women five women played very important roles in shaping the story of the Odyssey?
Helen, Penelope, Athene, Circe, and Calypso.
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How did Helen have a significant impact on the story without being physically involved in the story?
It was because of Helen the Trojan War began, which is what caused Odysseus to part with his family in the first place and go on such a tremendous journey.
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Who is Penelope and how does she impact the story?
Penelope is Odysseus's wife, Queen of Ithaca. She is what Odysseus longs to return to. She also adds to the urgency and desperation for Odysseus to get home, as the suitors have taken over his home and he has 40 days before she remarries.
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Do Circe and Calypso make a positive or negative contribution to aiding Odysseus in his return home?
Negative: They keep Odysseus captive and away from Ithaca for eight of the ten years he spent trying to get home. Positive: they offer him hospitality and immortality and eternal youth, however this is only seen as temptation.
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What is xenia?
Xenia, also referred to as philexenia, is the love of strangers, and the laws of hospitality.
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Who is the god of xenia?
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Does xenia play an important role in the story?
Yes. It effects many decisions made throughout the story.
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Does every character display perfect xenia throughout the story?
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On what circumstance does Calypso fail to adequately abide by the laws of xenia?
When Hermes comes to visit Calypso to order her to release Odysseus. She immediately questions Hermes upon arrival and verbally attacks him. It is not until after this she offers him food and drink.
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Which group of people display perfect xenia throughout the story?
The Phaeacians.
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Who is punished for using improper xenia?
Odysseus's crew.
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How and why are they punished?
Odysseus's crew at Hyperion's cattle having sworn an oath not to, and were punished by Zeus's storm.
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What happened between Zeus striking Odysseus's ship and Odysseus arriving on Ogygia?
Odysseys floats for a very long time clinging onto the wreckage, when he once again came across Scylla and Charybdis. He clung onto a fig tree like a bat, out of Scylla's sight, and waited for the wreckage to resurface from Charybdis.
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There is a dichotomy between civilisation and barbarism in the Odyssey. Which characters are perversions of civil society?
Circe, Aeolus, and the Lotus Eaters.
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In what way is Circe a perversion of civil society?
At first glance she appears very civilised, displaying proper xenia by inviting Odysseus's crew into her home and offering them beverages, however she enchants them and turns them into pigs and locks them in pig pens, which is very barbaric.
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In what way is Aeolus a perversion of civil society?
At the home of Aeolus, Odysseus enters what appears to be a very idyllic family scene- a family which turns out to be entirely incestuous.
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In what way are the Lotus Eaters a perversion of civil society?
Amongst the Lotus Eaters, men are reduced to the level of animals, their only concern is grazing on the mind-altering lotus fruit.
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What is Homer doing by making portraying these characters in such a way?
By drawing a comparison to Greek society and these places and people, he is emphasising the value of being a civilised Greek.
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What are the following quotes examples of? "rosy-fingered dawn", "much-enduring Odysseus", "fleet-footed Achilles".
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What is 'metis' a term for?
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What is 'kleos' a term for?
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What dramatic technique frequently used by Homer is described also as prolepsis?
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What is one example of foreshadowing in the Odyssey?
When the text talks about the lion attacking the baby deer when he comes home to his den, foreshadowing Odysseus coming home and killing the suitors.
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There is the presence of a mis-en-abyme in this story. What is a mis-en-abyme and where can it be found in the Odyssey?
A mis-en-abyme is a story within a story and it can be found from page 110-168, books 9-12(including 12).
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What is 'pathos'?
Sympathy or feeling created for a character.
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What is one example of when, as a reader, we see a character do something that provokes us to feel a certain way?
When the cyclops is leading his rams into the cave and he stops the last one, carrying Odysseus, and tells it his feelings. This causes the reader to feel surprisingly sympathetic towards a character who previously we felt no sympathy for.
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What is an ecphrasis?
A digression or detailed description of a visual object.
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What is the term used to describe a delay or digression technique used in the narrative to build suspense?
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What is the name of the narrative technique Homer uses to give an animal or inanimate object human features?
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What is an example of personification in the Odyssey?
"We saw a cavern yawning above the water.".
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What is a term used for 'arrogance'?
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What is descriptive language which uses other senses of smell or sound to convey vividness?
Sensory language.
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What is one example of sensory language in the Odyssey?
The metaphor of dawn with her finger tips of rose. "Dawn, fresh and rosy fingered".
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What is anagnorisis?
A term for 'recognition'.
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What is a Homeric simile?
An extended comparison to something the ancient audience could relate to in nature or daily life.
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What is an example of a Homeric simile in the Odyssey?
'Her mind in torment, wheeling like some lion at bay, dreading the gangs of hunters closing their cunning ring around him for the finish.'
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What is 'memesis' a term for?
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What is aristeia?
An extended description of a hero's finest moments of exceptional valour in fighting.
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What is an epic poem?
A lengthy narrative poem, ordinarily concerning a serious subject containing details of heroic deeds and events significant to a culture or nation.
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What makes the Odyssey an epic poem?
It opens "in media res"(middle of action), the setting is vast(covering many nations), begins with an invocation to a muse, epithets, starts with a statement to a theme, features long and formal speeches, shows divine intervention.
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In what structure is the poem written?
Dactylic hexameter.
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Card 2


What were the names of Odysseus's wife and son?


Penelope and Telemachus.

Card 3


Odysseus was the king of what island nation?


Preview of the front of card 3

Card 4


What attributes does Odysseus portray which support the suggestion that Odysseus is a hero?


Preview of the front of card 4

Card 5


In what ways does Odysseus display intelligence during the poem?


Preview of the front of card 5
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