Skip to...

IMPORTANT BOOK GUIDES

Books I-IV
  • Homer focuses in on Penelope and Telemachus

  • Allows readers to see what Odysseus left behind

  • Allows readers to hear of Odysseus great legacy

 

Book V
  • The 1st encounter with Odysseus

  • First image of this great hero is of him weeping for his home and family

    • Exemplifies Odysseus’ humanity

  • Turns down Calypso’s offer of immortality

    • Portrays Odysseus’ wisdom

  • Odysseus should have dies many times in Homer’s epic and yet he did not

    • His destiny was to make it home and complete his journey

 
Book IX
  • Odysseus meets the Cyclopes and after triumphing over him, he loses his hubris and humility

  • Boasts to the Cyclopes about how he, Odysseus, defeated him

  • Cyclopes cries to his father about Odysseus

  • Poseidon decides to try and kill Odysseus by any means necessary and since Odysseus’ journey home is entirely along water, this will not be all too difficult

    • Pride got in the way of intelligence

 

Book X     
  • Circe, the island witch, is written as a strong and dominant female character

  • She is the character who sends Odysseus to the Underworld

 

Book XI
  • Odysseus faces “death”

  • Meets his mother who reveals that Penelope is all right but that Odysseus needs to rescue her

  • Meets a blind prophet who, although blind, sees and predicts Odysseus future

    • Predicts that his whole crew will perish

  • Most important meeting while there is with Achilles

    • Odysseus tells Achilles that glory is everything

    • Achilles rebuts this statement and tells Odysseus to always remember that a life, no matter how poor or small, is always better than death

    • This idea reveals to Odysseus the great value of human life

Book XIII
  • It is revealed that Odysseus felt that Athena, the goddess who has protect him and his family throughout his entire journey, abandoned him

  • She reaffirms to Odysseus that she has had a great influence on his journey

  • This drives home the point that Odysseus had great divine intervention from the gods, especially Athena, and this greatly impacted Odysseus’ odyssey

 

Book XVI
  • Athena removes the disguise that she places over Odysseus earlier and reveals to Telemachus his long lost father

  • Telemachus and Odysseus reunite

  • They plan to take back their household and overthrow the suitors

  • This is an important scene because it shows the reconnection of a son with his father

 

Book XIX
  • Telemachus finds that Athena truly and deeply helps Odysseus to the best of her ability

  • This is the first encounter between Penelope and Odysseus

    • Only she does not know it is him because he is disguised as a beggar by Athena

  • Penelope reveals her idea to challenge the suitors to string Odysseus bow and then shoot it

    • Only the best will be able to complete her task

 

Book XXI
  • Telemachus is shown to be a full grown man now

    • His courage and bravery shine through

  • Odysseus shows that he is back and dumbfounds the suitors by stringing the bow and launching it

    • Completes the task Penelope had given to all suitors and this reveals his identity to all

 

Book XXII
  • One of the final scenes in which Athena offers her assistance to Odysseus and his family

    • She gives them the power to overcome the suitors (killing all but two of them) and the maids (leaving behind only the loyal ones)

  • This chapter depicted the idea that good will triumph over evil in the end and good will get its revenge upon the wicked

  • Peace is restored finally

 

Book XXIII
  • Penelope and Odysseus are finally reunited and the odyssey has finally come to a close

  • Penelope is still very skeptical of Odysseus and whether or not it is truly him

    • She tests him and pretends as though their bed had been moved

    • Odysseus becomes angered because when he built the bed, he carved it right from an olive tree so that the bed is unmovable

    • Only Odysseus would know this secret and this revelation confirms to Penelope that her husband has truly returned home

 

 

A visual summary of The Odyssey

Click to listen:

The Odyssey sung

in Ancient Greek

 

Translation by Robert Fagles (Deluxe Edition)

 

Book 1: Athena Inspires the Prince

“Mother has always told me I’m his son, it’s true, / but I am not so certain. Who, on his own, / has ever really known who gave me life?” (page 84, lines 249-251)           

  • Telemachus in response to Athena’s question, showing his uncertainty that he really is King Odysseus’s son since he had never truly met him since birth.

 

Book 2: Telemachus Sets Sails

“This was her latest masterpiece of guile: / she set up a great loo in the royal halls / and she began to weave, and the weaving finespun, / the yarns endless, and she would lead us on: ‘young men, / my suitors, now that King Odysseus is no more, / go slowly keen as you are to marry me, until / I can finish off this web . . . / so my weaving won’t all fray and come to nothing.’” (Page 96, lines 101-108)

 

“So day by day she’d weave at her great and growing web - / by night, by the light of the torches he set beside her, / she would unravel all she’d done. Three whole years / she deceived us blind, seduced us with this scheme . . .” 

(Page 96, lines 116-119)

  • Both of the quotes above shows Penelope is not only beautiful but is cunning and intelligent.

 

Book 3: King Nestor Remembers

“And no one there could hope to rival Odysseus, / not for sheer cunning - / at every twist of strategy he excelled us all.” (Page 111, lines 134-136)

  • Nestor recalls King Odysseus in the Trojan War, emphasizes Odysseus’s skill and cunningness.

 

Book 4: The King and Queen of Sparta

“‘… No one, no Achaean / labored hard as Odysseys labored or achieved so much. / And how did his struggles end? In suffering for that man;’” (Page 127, lines 119-121)        

  • King Menelaus of Sparta comments on Odysseus’s greatness and tragedy.

 

Book 5: Odysseus – Nymph and Shipwreck

“Zeus commands you to send him off with all good speed: / It is not his fate to die here, far from his own people. / Destiny still ordains that he shall see his loved ones, / reach his high roofed-house, his native land at last.” 

(Page 156, lines 125-128)

  • Perhaps one of the first times Destiny, or Fate, is mentioned. (Theme)

 

“The queenly nymph sought out great Odysseus - / the commands of Zeus still ringing in her ears – and found him there on the headland, sitting, still, / weeping, his eyes never dry, his sweet life flowing away / with the tears he wept for his foiled journey home, / since the nymph no longer pleased. In the nights, true, / he’d sleep with her in the arching cave – he had no choice - / unwilling lover alongside lover all too willing . . . /  But all his days he’d sit on the rocks and beaches, / wrenching his heart with sobs and groans and anguish., / gazing out over the barren sea through blinding tears.” (Page 157, lines 165-175)

  • First time readers meet Odysseus. Also allows readers to see not only the Great Odysseus as everyone mentions him to be but the human side of Odysseus; he is full of emotions and yearns to be home with family.

 

“A heavy sea covered him over, then and there / unlucky Odysseus would have met his death - / against the will of Fate – but the bright-eyed one inspired him yet again.” (Page 166, lines 479-482)

  • As Odysseus clings to the rocks, readers once again see Fate is mentioned. This also demonstrates how the gods intervene in life, such as Athena giving Odysseus the inspiration to survive.

 

Book 6: The Princess and the Stranger

“So he prayed and Athena heard his prayer / but would not yet appear to him undisguised. / She stood in awe of her Father’s brother, the lord of the sea / who still seethed on, still churning with rage against / the great Odysseus till he reached his native land.” (Page 178, Lines 361-365)

  • Athena is still afraid of Poseidon who is the main god against Odysseus and why it takes so long to get home. He “still seethes on” due to his plan of revenge against Odysseus.

 

Book 7: Phaeacia’s Halls and Gardens

“‘But as for myself, grant me a rapid convoy home / to my own native land. How far away I’ve been / from all my loved ones – how long I have suffered!” (Page 184, lines 179-181)          

  • Odysseus begs the Queen of Phaeacia that she takes pity on him and help him return back to Ithaca, the place he has been longing to be for years.

 

Book 8: A Day for Songs and Contests

“but Odysseus, clutching his flaring sea-blue cape / in both powerful hands, drew it over his head / and buried his handsome face, / ashamed the host might see him shedding tears.” (Page 194, lines 100-103)

  • Again we see Odysseus emotions and how powerful his emotions are as he listens to the song about him and his comrades.

 

Book 9: In the One-Eyed Giants Cave

“… Nobody – That’s my name. Nobody - / so my mother and father call me, all my friends.” (Page 223, lines 410-411)

  • Again, Odysseus’s cunningness is seen in which he creates this fake name in order to escape from the cave later on.

 

“I called back in a burst of anger, ‘ Cyclops - / if any man on the face of the earth should ask you / who blinded you, shamed you so – say Odysseus, / raider of cities, he gouged out your eye, / Laertes’ son who makes his home in Ithaca!’” 

(Page 227 lines 558-562)

  • Very important quote. Shows hubris, or pride which is the character’s downfall. By revealing his true identity, Poseidon, the Cyclops’s father, was able to take appropriate revenge on the right person. That is why Odysseus was lost at sea for ten years.

 

Book 10: The Bewitching Queen of Aeaea

“‘Never has any other man withstood my potion never, / once past it’s past his lips and he has drunk it down. / You have a mind in you no magic can enchant! / You must be Odysseus, man of twist and turns - / Hermes the giant killer, god of the golden wand, he always said you’d come,’” (Page 240, lines 363-368)         

  • Odysseus, with the help of Hermes, alludes Circe’s trick, making her realizing the cunningness of his mind. She recognizes him as the one Hermes always said would come.

 

Book 11: The Kingdom of the Dead

“And at last your death will steal upon you . . . / a gentle, painless death, far from the sea it comes / to take you down, borne down with the years in ripe old age / with all your people there in blessed peace around you.” (Page 253, lines 153-156)

  • Here Odysseus learns from the prophets that he is to make it home and live to die of old age.

 

“No winning words about death to me, shining Odysseus! / By god, I’d rather slave on earth for another man - / than rule down here over all these breathless dead.” (Page 265 lines 555-558)

  • This is the crucial encounter of Odysseus’s journey in which he changes in and important way. Here, Achilles’s ghost tells Odysseus that he rather be alive and a slave than dead and ruling over all the others. This provides extreme value to human life.

 

Book 12: The Cattle of the Sun

“Of all the pitiful thing’s I’ve had to witness, / suffering, searching out the pathways of the sea, / this wrenched my heart the most.” Page 279, lines 280-282
          -Odysseus describes the ghastly scene and the six headed monster Scylla snatched six men from the boat and, clenching them in her teeth, swept them into to her cave above.

“‘Father Zeus! the rest of you blissful gods who never die - / you with your fatal sleep, you lulled me into disaster. / Left on their own, look what a monstrous thing / my crew concocted!’”
Page 282, lines 398-401
            -Odysseus’s cry to the gods after he awakes to find his crew killed one of Apollo’s cattle, against Odysseus’s command, which sealed disaster for the crew.

 

Book 13: Ithaca at Last

“‘As the people all lean down from the city heights / to watch her speeding home, strike her into a rock, that looks like a racing vessel, just offshore - / amaze all men with a marvel for the ages. / Then pile your huge mountain around their port.’” (Page 291, lines 176-180)         

  • Zeus explains the plan to Poseidon, who is enrage in The Phaecians for helping Odysseus home and going against him. This plan is devised to show the gods’ revenge for going against them.

 

“Ithaca . . . Heart racing, Odysseus that great exile / filled with joy to hear Athena, daughter of storming Zeus, / pronounce that name. He stood on native ground at last” (Page 294 lines 284-286)          

  • The moment Odysseus first learns that he has finally made it home.

 

“‘Clearly I might have died the same ignoble death / as Agamemnon, bled white in my own house too, / if you has never revealed this to me now, / goddess, point by point. / Come, weave us a scheme so I can pay them back!’” (Page 299, lines 438-442)           

  • Athena makes Odysseus aware of the situation at home and he realizes he needs to plot revenge against the suitors.

 

Book 14: The Loyal Swineherd
  • “Trust me, the blessed gods have no love for crime. / They honor justice, honor the decent acts of men.” (Page 304, lines 96-97)          -Again through the Swineherd the reader is reminded that justice is coming.

 

 

Book 15: The Prince Set Sails for Home

“‘Just as the eagle swooped down from the crags / where it was born and bred, just as it snatched / that goose fattened up for the kill inside the house, / just so, after many trails and roving long and hard, / Odysseus will descend on his house and take revenge – unless he’s home already, sowing seeds of ruin / for that whole crowd of suitors!’” (Page 325, lines 194-200)           

  • Here again one see’s the idea of Odysseus’s revenge. Also, this is Helen reading what the ancient Greeks believed were omens that foretold the future, in this case it was an owl with a goose in its talons.

 

“‘Why the moment I saw it, her before my eyes, / I knew it was a sign. No line more kingly than yours / in all of Ithaca – yours will reign forever!’” (Page 336, lines, 596-598)          

  • Here again we see the omen, in this case a hawk with a dove in its talons, feathers being ripped out. In this case the prophet portrays the idea that Ithaca will forever be under the rule of Telemachus’ family, foreshadowing a bright ending.

 

 

Book 16: Father and Son

“… Straight to the prince he rushed / and kissed his face and kissed his shining eyes, / both hands, as the tears rolled down his cheeks. / As a father, brimming with love, welcomes home / his darling only son in a warm embrace - / what pain he’s borne for him and him alone! …” (Page 339, lines 14-21)         

  • This is Odysseus’s first encounter with Telemachus since he left 20 years ago. Telemachus does not realize this is his farther due to the disguise.

 

“At that / Odysseus sat down again, and Telemachus threw his arms / around his great father, sobbing uncontrollably / as the deep desire for tears welled up in both.” (Page 345, lines 242-245)         

  • In this moment Telemachus realized it truly is his father sitting with him, home from his voyage at last.

 

“The swineherd will lead me into the city later, / looking old and broken, a begger once again. / If they abuse me in the palace, steel yourself, / no matter what outrage I must suffer, …. Prompt them to quit / their wild reckless ways, try to win them over / with friendly words. Those men will never listen, / now that the day of doom is hovering at their heads.” (Page 347, lines 303-312)         

  • Odysseus begins to plan with Telemachus the death of the suitors using his disguise as a beggar.

 

“‘You, Antinuous! Violent, vicious, scheming - / you they say, are the best man your age at Ithaca, / best for eloquence, counsel. You’re nothing of the sort! / Madman, why do you weave destruction for Telemachus? ...’” (Page 351, lines 463-466)          

  • Penelope confronts the suitors after she learns that they are planning to kill her son.

 

Book 17: Stranger at the Gates

“‘Pity, pity,’ / the wry Odysseus countered, drawing away. / ‘No sense in your head to match your handsome looks. / You’d grudge your servant a pinch of salt from your own larder, / you who lounge at the next man’s board but lack the heart / to tear a crust of bread and hand it on to me, / though there’s god’s plenty here.’” (Page 369, lines 500-506)         

  • Odysseus’s response when he finishing testing Antinuous.

 

Book 18: The Beggar-King of Ithaca

“So he declared. And they all bit their lips, / amazed the prince could speak with so much daring.” (Page 389, lines 463-464)         

  • This is the suitors’ response to Telemachus’ orders. Here the suitors and readers notice a noticeable difference in Telemachus. He no longer is the spineless boy who questioned his lineage as he was in the beginning of the book. Now, he is a strong man who is fitting into his role of prince and currently, the man of the house.

 

Book 19: Penelope and Her Guest

“‘My very words, / and despite their pride and passion they believed me. / So by day I’d weave at my great and growing web - / by night, by the light of torches set beside me, / I would unravel all I’d done. Three whole years / I deceived them blind, seduced them with this scheme.’” (Page 395, lines 165-170)          

  • Penelope tells her tale about her deception, as mentioned in the beginning books.

 

“That scar - / as the old nurse cradled his leg and her hands passed down / she felt it knew it, …” (Page 405, lines 528-530)         

  • The moment Odysseus is finally recognized in his home. He has a scarf on his thigh which will be used again later to indicate it is truly Odysseus.

 

Book 21: Odysseus Strings His Bows

“The time had come. The goddess Athena with her blazing eyes / inspired Penelope, Icarius’ daughter, wary, poised to set the bow and the gleaming iron axes out / before her suitors waiting in Odysseus’ hall …” (Page 424, lines, 1-4)         

  • This is the beginning of the end for the suitors and in this event challenge, Odysseus will finally reveal himself.

 

“‘I set before you the great bow of King Odyssey now! / The hand that can string this bow with the greatest ease, / that shoots an arrow clean through all twelve axes - / he is the man I follow, …’”  (Page 426, lines 85-88)         

  • Here is the challenge for the suitors in which Odysseus will reveal himself.

 

“so with his virtuous ease Odysseus strung his mighty bow. / Quickly his right hand plucked the string to test its pitch / and under his touch it sung out clear and sharp as a swallow’s cry. / Horror swept through the suitors, faces blanching white, / and Zeus cracked the sky with a bolt, his blazing sign, / so the great man who had borne so much rejoiced at last / that the son of Cronus flung that omen down for him. / He snatched a winged arrow lying bare on the board - / the rest still bristled deep inside the quiver, /soon to be tasted by all the feasters there. / setting shafts on the handgrip, drawing the notch  / and bowstring back, back … right from his stool, / just as he sat but aiming straight and true, he let fly - / and never missing an ax from the first ax-handle / clean on through to the last and out / the shaft with its weighted brazen head shot free!”

(Pages 437-438, lines 456-471)         

  • Perhaps the most climatic event of the poem. Odysseus strings his bow in return will reveal he is no meager beggar but the king, returning at last.

 

Book 22: Slaughter in the Hall

“‘You dogs! you never imagined I’d return from Troy - / so cocksure that you bled my house to death, / ravished my serving-women – wooded my wife / behind my back while I was still alive! / No fear of the gods who rule the skies up there, / no fear that men’s revenge might arrive someday - / now all your necks are in the noose – your doom is sealed!’” (Page 440, lines 36-42)       

  • Odysseus proclaims the death of the suitors now that he has revealed himself.

 

“Odysseus scanned his house to see if any man / still skulled alive, still hope to avoid black death. /But he found them one and all in blood and dust . . .” (Page 451, lines 406-408)          

  • The aftermath of the battle Odysseus waged against the suitors.

 

Book 23: The Great Rooted Bed

“‘Come Eurycleia, / move the sturdy bedstead out of our bridal chamber - / that room the master built with his own hands. Take it out now, sturdy bed that it is, / and spread it deep with fleece, blankets and lustrous throws to keep him warm.’” 

(Page 461, lines 197-202)         

  • Penelope’s finally test is against her husband Odysseus. To prove it is truly Odysseus, she tricks him by telling her maid to move the bed, which is impossible. Only the true Odysseus would know that.

 

“‘Women – your words, they cut me to thee core! / Who could move my bed? Impossible task, / even for some skilled craftsman …’” (Page 461, lines 205-207)         

  • Odysseus responds to Penelope’s trick and knows that it is impossible to move the bed, and describes later the way it was made. Only Odysseus would know all the details, proving to Odysseus it is truly him at last.

 

Book 24: Peace

“So he commanded. He obeyed her, glad at heart. / Athena handed down her pacts of peace / between both sides for all the years to come –” (Page 485, lines 598-600)         

  • At last there is peace and the battles are over for Odysseus.

 

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

A special acknowledgement to:
Dr. Robin McAllister, Sacred Heart University (Hero’s Journey)
Ms. Crowe, Minersville Area High School (Archetype)

 

*These quotes represent only some of the important quotes from Homer’s The Odyssey.

**This contains only some of the possible archetypes found within Homer’s The Odyssey

 

Sources:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PglAFdKSJ_M

 

 

IMPORTANT QUOTES

© 2015 by The Sacred Heart University Thomas More Honors Program