A comprehensive guide to Homer's Odyssey
Original prose by Melvin Gordils
Courageous, crafty, cunning and charismatic. Survivor of a tragic journey
that almost saw his life lost at the cost of a cyclops father. The God of waters
who wields a trident spent many a year steering this wise warrior towards
peril and strife. A road rife with danger at every turn. To earn his way back
to the land which held his heart this smart man remained undaunted and
flaunted his eloquence and legendary prowess at every venture. Each new
acquaintance providing maintenance for this weary worn down king. The
prototype for heroes as we know it.
Weaving a delicate web of honest deceit with no intent to complete it.
This mother and wife cursed with the life of a single parent. Sought after
by cowards hungry for power and filled with lust. The trust this woman
held for the return of her husband wasn’t to be questioned. Brilliant in her
charade as suitors paraded her palace with malice intent. Men bent on
entering her chambers angering her son and sealing their fate. She
believed firmly their fate would meet the blade of the brave and fierce
father of her son. In her heart she knew that the man she loved and held
above all others would free this mother from her prison of despair.
The poor prince who was convinced he was fatherless. A bastard after the trojan war tore his father from the family. Living in a constant struggle troubled by suitors relentlessly pursuing his mother. A boy on the verge of manhood fighting to stake his claim in the shadow of his fathers name. Son of a legend who questioned if he was destined to live in shame. Until a goddess rained blessings upon him. Instilling hope a metaphorical rope to pull him from the bottomless pit of bottom feeders scavenging his birthright. He set sail in search of tales to tell him that his father has prevailed against all odds. With a goddess giving inspiration the only destination to expect is success.
The king of the Phaeacians. He entertains Odysseus after the hero has been washed ashore. King Alcinous is moved by Odysseus and gives him gifts and returns him to Ithaca in a Phaeacian ship.
The leader of the suitors. He mocks Telemachus, insults Penelope, and insults Odysseus disguised as a beggar. Because of his arrogance, he is the first of the suitors to die.
The divine nymph who lives on the island of Ogygia, where Odysseus is washed ashore after his ship.For seven years, he lives with her until Zeus sends Hermes to her with the message that Odysseus is to be released to return to his own land. Although she wishes him to stay with her and offers him immortality and youth in return, she yields to Odysseus’ wishes to return to Ithaca and the divine command of Zeus. She teaches Odysseus how to build a raft and allows him to set sail before a favorable breeze.
An enchantress, the daughter of Helius and Perse. Arriving at Aeaea, Odysseus sends Eurylochus, his lieutenant, and twenty-two men ashore to explore the island. When they arrive at Circe’s palace, she invites them to feast with her. She serves the men drugged food and then transforms them into swine. Odysseus, on his way to rescue his companions, encounters the god Hermes, who gives him a flower called moly as a charm against the powers of the enchantress. Her power destroyed by the magic herb, Circe frees her captives from her magic spell and entertains Odysseus and his companions for a year. At the end of that time, Odysseus wishes to leave Circe’s bed and continue his journey. Though reluctant, she consents to his going, but first she advises him to consult the shade of Tiresias to learn what the future holds for the wanderers. She sends him on his "crucial encounter" along the hero's journey.
One of Odysseus’ companions whom Circe transformed into swine and then restored to human form. He climbs on the roof of her palace and falls to his death. Appearing among the shades in the land of the Dead he begs Odysseus to give him proper burial.
The loyal shepherd who takes in Odysseus, who is disguised as a beggar. Though of lowly occupation, he is of noble birth, and he is both slave and devoted friend to Odysseus. Despising the suitors, he fights bravely against them alongside Odysseus, Telemachus, and Philoetius, and helps Odysseus reclaim his throne. Odysseus later promises both Philoetius and Eumaeus freedom and power for being faithful to him when he returned to Ithaca.
Considered to be the most treacherous of the suitors because he is known for being devious and not trustworthy. He even fooled Penelope into thinking him true at heart even though he really was arranging to kill Telemachus. His plan fails and he is later killed by Odysseus.
The aged father of Odysseus.
The treacherous goatherd who taunts disguised Odysseus and later tries to aid the suitors. On orders from Odysseus, he is hanged by Eumaeus and Philoetius.
The maiden daughter of King Alcinous and Queen Arete. Her name, in Greek, means "burner of ships." Finding Odysseus on the seashore, where he sleeps exhausted from fighting buffeting waves after Poseidon destroyed his raft, she befriends the hero and conducts him to her father’s palace. There, Odysseus tells the story of his adventures and hardships to an admiring and pitying audience. Moved by the wanderer’s plight, King Alcinous gives him rich gifts and returns him to Ithaca in a Phaeacian ship.
The wise king of Pylos. Telemachus, seeking to rid the royal palace of his mother’s insolent suitors, journeys to Nestor’s country in search of his father Odysseus.
One of the most generous and least offensive of the suitors. He lends Telemachus his own ship in which to sail to Pylos to find out about Odysseus.
The loyal, trustworthy, and gallant friend of Telemachus. He goes with the son of Odysseus to Pylos.
The noble youngest son of King Nestor. A skilled charioteer, he accompanies Telemachus when the son of Odysseus travels to Sparta in an effort to get word of his father from King Menelaus and Helen, his queen.
The cowhead and servant of Odysseus’ home who is considered one of the subjects that remained loyal to Odysseus. He is forced to provide cattle for the feasts of the suitors, but resents them and sees them as intruders. He and Eumaeus help Odysseus in locking the suitors in Odysseus' home and stealing their weapons so they could not fight back. In the fight when the suitors are killed he joins Odysseus and kills Peisander. Odysseus later promises both Philoetius and Eumaeus freedom and power for being faithful to him when he returned to Ithaca.
One of the Cyclopes, giants with one eye in the center of the forehead, and the son of Poseidon. When Odysseus and twelve of his companions seek hospitality in his cave, the monster makes prisoners of the band and eats six of them. Wily Odysseus saves himself and his remaining companions by giving Polyphemus some of Maro’s strong wine to drink and then, while the Cyclops is asleep, putting out his eye with a heated, pointed shaft. The Greeks escape from the cave by hiding beneath the bodies of Polyphemus’ sheep when the giant turns his flock out to pasture.
The prophet of Thebes. In the land of the Dead, acting on the advice of Circe, Odysseus summons the aged seer’s shade from the dead. Tiresias tells him not to harm the sacred cattle of Hyperion; otherwise, Odysseus will encounter many difficulties and delays on his homeward journey, he will find trouble in the royal house when he arrives there, he will be forced to make a journey into a land so far from the sea that its people will mistake an oar for a winnowing fan, he will be forced to make a rich sacrifice to Poseidon in that distant land, and in his old age he will meet death coming to him out of the sea.
"Character List." Fagles, R.,ed. The Odyssey 17 Feb. 2015.
Original prose poetry for Odysseus, Penelope and Telemachus by Melvin Gordils