AP English 12
Summer Assignment: Odyssey – 230 Burning Question
Name___________________________ Date Assigned ____________ Date Due____________
Directions: Please answer the following questions regarding The Odyssey. Make sure you answer all questions
fully to show that you have read, researched and understand the material. This assignment is due on the first
day of school. You should complete approximately 20 questions each day.
1. Look up Titan in an encyclopedia or book of mythology and answer the following questions.
a) Who were the parents of the ancient race of gods known as the Titans?
b) What were the women of this ancient race called?
c) What happened as a result of the parent’s quarrel over these children?
d) Which children became the parents of the family of gods that Homer uses in the Odyssey?
e) How did Zeus become the important child of these parents?
2. Relationships of gods:
a) How is Zeus related to Poseidon?
b) Explain relationship among Poseidon, Polyphemos and the Cyclops.
c) How are Atlas and Zeus related?
d) How are Athena and Zeus related?
3. Describe the personalities of the gods. How do they differ from the Jewish and Christian view of
God? [Explain fully]
4. Describe the relationship of the gods to men.
5. Why does Poseidon Earthholder oppose Odysseus?
a) What fictional essential does that opposition provide for Homer’s adventure story?
6. What is Zeus’ feeling toward Odysseus?
7. How does Athena use her powers as a goddess to fulfill the promise that Odysseus will return home
8. How are the human characters Odysseus and Telemachus related?
9. What assurance does Athena disguised as Mentor give to Telemachus?
a) What does she encourage him to do?
10. Meanwhile, what is threatening his mother, Penelope, and their family happiness?
11. Describe Telemachus.
12. Give two examples that Athena has given him boldness:
13. Who is Eurycleia?
14. Describe Penelope:
15. What kind of government did the Greek city – states have?
a) How has Homer used this pattern for Ithaca?
b) What questions come to mind as you think of the fact that since Odysseus has been away, no
council has been called? [think of 3 good questions]
16. What prompts Telemachus to call an assembly ?
a) What is the plan afterwards?
17. Describe Teloemachus’ handling of the meeting:
a) What do you think of him as a leader? [Be specific]
18. What clever scheme has Penelope used to delay her marriage?
19. Compare Antinous and Telemachus as they reveal themselves.
20. What two people, in addition to the goddess Athena, have been influential in Telemachus’ upbringing?
c) Of what sex are they?
d) From a 21st century standpoint, how might you view Homer’s depicting Telemachus as immature?
21. Why does Athena see tat Telemachus must go on a journey to find his father?
a) What does she know the journey will accomplish for him, personally?
22. What does Leocritos Euenorises’ answer to Mentor tell you about the men of Ithaca?
23. What two evidences indicate Odysseus will return to Ithaca?
24. Look up the word the word mentor. From what language did it originate?
a) What does it mean?
b) What influence might Homer’s use of Mentor as a character have had on its present use?
25. What steps toward maturity does Telemachus take in this book?
26. What is the story of Agamemnon?
a) What relationship does it have to Telemachus’ situation?
27. What doe we learn about Penelope by hearing the contrasting story of Clytaimnestra?
28. What is the story of Helen of Troy?
a) Has Helen changed significantly?
29. What new twist does Menelaus give to the story of the Trojan horse?
30. What does Telemachus learn about his father’s friendship with Menelaus?
a) How are the experiences of the two alike?
b) What encouragement could Menelaus’ story give to Telemachus?
31. Why is this visit valuable in helping Telemachus mature?
32. Of what importance to Telemachus is Menelaus’ telling the story of his encounter with the Old Man of
33. Meanwhile, what two things happen back at Ithaca?
34. Summarize what these three books have accomplished as an introduction to the stories that make up
Odysseus’ voyage to Ithaca?
[After reading books V – VIII carefully, go back and answer the following questions].
35. At the meeting of the gods, how does Athena’s view of Odysseus’ situation differ from Zeus?
a) What action does Zeus take?
36. Describe Calypso’s island.
37. What type of goddess is Calypso?
a) Why does she rescue Odysseus?
b) Why does she let him go?
38. Why is Styx?
a) How do the gods use its name?
39. What happens just as Odysseus sights Phaiacia?
40. How do Ino and Athena help him get to land?
41. What unusual provision does Athena make for Odysseus to get clothes and shelter?
42. Describe Alcinous’ household:
43. Why are the girls frightened when the see Odysseus?
a) Is their reaction justified?
44. Why is Nausicaa’s reaction different from that of the other girls?
a) What invitation does she give Odysseus?
b) What future event does she consider?
45. Why did Athena not make a fact – to – fact appearance in answer to Odysseus’ prayer?
46. What biological relationship exists between the king and his wife?
a) Does anyone act if this is unusual?
47. Describe Phaiacia. What specifically do the women have?
a) The men?
b) What is Nausicaa’s impression of some of the people?
48. How does Odysseus take advantage of Arete’s recognizing the clothes he is wearing?
49. Nausicaa gives Odysseus one reason that he should not follow the girls through the town; Odysseus
tells the father a different reason. How do their stories differ?
[ Book VIII]
50. Describe the king’s hospitality. Why does Odysseus cry?
51. What athletic skills do the men exhibit?
52. How does Odysseus react to Broadsea’s insults? How does he prove himself?
53. For what are the Phaiacians best known? How does their life differ from what Odysseus has
54. What point does the harper’s song about Aphrodite and Ares make about love and justice?
a) What function might it have in Homer’s tale?
55. Look up the story of Hephaisus. Why was he crippled?
a) Why did Aphrodite marry him?
b) What kind of goddess was she?
56. How does Odysseus react to the Trojan horse story?
a) What does the king do about his reaction?
57. What is foreshadowed by King Alcinous’ telling what his father had predicted?
58. After looking into the beginning of Book IX, explain how the ending of Book VIII prepares for what
59. How have Books V – VIII formed a bridge from Telemachus’ story to the stories that Odysseus is
about to tell?
[ Book IX ] : This book begins the more familiar stories of Odysseus’ voyage. While Book IX may seem
strange, a descent into the land of the dead was not an unusual event in an epic hero’s experience. It was
traditional for the hero to undergo an experience with death to be resurrected to new power and vision for
the task ahead.
60. Look back to the ending of Book VIII. What is the occasion for Odysseus’ telling these stories of his
61. What social amenities does he observe in beginning his tale?
62. What three brief experiences does he begin with?
63. Who sends the storm?
a) Why is it not Poseidon who does it?
64. What happens to the sailors when they meet the lotus – eaters?
65. Describe the Cyclopians.
66. What motivates Odysseus to explore the island?
a) Who does he take with him?
b) What do they find?
67. Why should Odysseus have listened to his men?
68. What does Polyphemus have for supper and breakfast?
69. Why don’t the men escape during the day?
70. How do they finally get out of the cave?
71. What gory details does Homer use to make a vivid story?
72. Why don’t the other Cyclopians help Polyphemus?
73. What one scene appeals to the reader’s sympahth and makes Polyphemus more than just a brute?
74. Why does Odysseus shout out his real name as he leaves?
75. What action at the end of the book cold be considered foreshadowing?
a) What will happen to Odysseus?
[ Book X ]
76. Look up Aeolus in an encyclopedia or mythology book. What power has Zeus given this mortal?
77. What catastrophe takes place?
a) Why does this catastrophe happen?
78. Describe the Laistrygonians’ odd appearance and behavior.
79. Find out who Circe’s father was:
a) What was Circe’s father’s duty?
80. Describe Circe’s house and the guards in front of it.
81. Why are the men not afraid?
a) What happens when they enter?
82. Who reports the incident to Odysseus and the others?
83. Who protects Odysseus from Circe’s witchery?
a) How is he protected?
84. Before Odysseus will eat or mare love to Circe, what does he make her do?
85. Who opposes Odysseus when he tells the men to pull the shop up on land and go to eat at Circe’s
b) How long do they stay?
86. When Odysseus reminds Circe of her promise to help them get home safely, what does she tell him he
must do first?
87. What is the ritual Circe prescribes for them when they land?
88. What tragedy takes place just before they leave?
89. What gift does Circe leave for them near the ship?
90. Where is Oceanos?
a) What one quality stands out about it?
91. What does Odysseus do first when he lands?
a) What response does he get?
92. Who is the first person he recognizes?
a) What is his request?
93. Why does Tieresias drink the blood?
a) What predictions does he make?
b) How will Odysseus die?
94. Why does Odysseus’ mother not look at him the first time he sees her?
95. What four things does he learn from her?
96. What happens when he tries to hug her?
97. What experience do the women whom Persephone sends have in common?
98. Who is Jocasta?
a) What is the story about her and her son?
99. When Odysseus feels his story has been long enough, about whom does Alcinous want to her?
100. What tragic reception did Agamemnon get when he returned from Troy?
101. What does Achilles say about death?
102. Next, Odysseus visits those who are tourmented in the after-life. Describe the punishment of the
a) Tityo –
b) Tantalus –
i. What word came from his name?
c) Sisyphus –
i. How does his fate embody Existentialist thought?
103. What was Hercules’ crime?
a) What was his punishment?
b) Now that he has accomplished peace, why does he pity Odysseus?
c) Why do Odysseus and his men leave so quickly?
104. Who is Phersephone?
a) What is her story?
b) Why must she stay in Hades six months of every year?
c) What happens on earth while she is gone?
105. What is Odysseus’s first act after leaving Hades and returning to Circe’s island?
106. What two great dangers does Circe warn the men about?
c) What advice does she give about meeting them?
107. Describe Scylla and Charybdis:
108. Which of those two monsters does Circe recommend that they sail near?
109. What is her warning about Helios’ cattle?
a) What will be the consequences to Odysseus?
b) To his men?
110. When Odysseus tells the experience with Scylla and Charybdis, what does he say was the most pitiful
111. What disagreement do Eurylochus and Odysseus have as night approaches?
112. Why do they not stay for just one night as they had planned?
113. What agreement between two gods does Calypso explain to Odysseus?
a) What impression does this give you of the Greek gods?
114. What danger that he once experienced with his men do Odysseus now face all alone?
a) What are the consequences?
115. Briefly (but accurately) describe the purpose of Homer’s use of flashback technique:
116. How has he adapted tales extant at the time to create a poem about an epic hero?
a) What feature of these tales contribute to their meaning?
117. Give an example of metaphor that you find in the first two pages of Book XIII.
118. Give an example of simile from the first two pages of this book.
119. What is the physical setting for the book?
a) What are Odysseus’ plans?
120. How does the partying ceremony show their religious beliefs?
121. How does Homer manage to get Odysseus to Ithaca without his knowing?
122. When Poseidon expresses his anger over not smashing the ship when it first started out, what does
Zeus suggest he do?
a) Hoes does Alcinous interpret that action?
123. Why do the people prepare a sacrifice to the gods?
124. Why has Athena prepared a mist to cover the beach?
125. How does Athena disguise herself?
a) What does she tell Odysseus?
b) What story does he tell her?
126. How does Athena compliment Odysseus?
a) What does she help him do?
127. Why is it important that Athena has prepared Odysseus for his homecoming by telling him of the
situation in Ithaca?
128. What disguise does Athena say she will give to Odysseus? Where does she tell him to go? Why?
129. What motive did Athena have for sending Telemachus away?
a) What danger to him does she reveal?
130. What specific changes come to Odysseus when Athena passes her wand over him?
131. Briefly describe the enclosure for the pigs:
132. Who is the swineherd Eumaius?
133. What fabricated story does Odysseus tell and what is his purpose for telling it?
134. How does Athena get Telemachus to head for home?
135. What do his host and hostess insist that he must have before he leaves?
136. What good omen appears when they make the parting sacrifice?
a) How does Helen interpret the omen?
137. Why does Telemachus hurry to leave Menelaus’ home?
138. Who asks to go with Telemachus?
139. What reason does Odysseus give for needing to meet Penelope?
a) Whey does Eumaius feel that he should wait?
b) What does he fear will happen to the beggar if he goes as he is?
140. What do we lean about Eumaius from his story?
141. Because Athena wants Telemachus to be the only one to meet his father, how does she dispose of the
a) What good omen accompanies the landing
b) What is the interpretation?
142. How does Odysseus quickly learn that the young man is a special person?
143. How does Telemachus show that he is a thoughtful, polite man?
144. What interesting answer does Telemachus give when Odysseus asks him why his brothers don’t help
him with the suitors?
145. How does Homer get Eumaius out of the way so that father and son can get acquainted?
146. What feature of the gods does Athena reveal when she gets Odysseus’ attention?
a) What does she tell him to do?
b) How does he look after talking with her?
147. What is Telemachus’ reaction to the transformation in his father?
148. How many men does Telemachus figure have been added to the household with the coming of the
suitors and their servants?
149. Why do Telemachus and Odysseus decide not to ask anyone to help them in fighting the suitors?
150. What plans do Odysseus and Telemachus make for going home?
a) What will be done with the weapons in Odysseus’ home?
151. When Odysseus wants to find out which farmhands and servant women are loyal to him, what advice
does Telemachus give?
152. What happens just as Eumaius reaches Odysseus’ home?
a) What does he have toad to the note Penelope receives?
153. How do the suitors feel about the news?
a) For what two reasons must they dispose of Telemachus?
i. Reason 1.
ii. Reason 2.
154. What good advice does Amphinomus of Dulichion give?
155. How did Penelope find out about the plot against her son?
a) What does she say to Antinous?
b) What does he owe Odysseus?
156. How does Antinous respond?
a) What does Eurymachus say?
b) What do his words reveal about him?
157. What does Athena do just before Eumaius’ return?
a) What news does he bring?
158. What do Telemachus and his father exchange when Eumaius isn’t looking?
a) What does this tell you about them?
b) How might this small detail be important to the larger epic?
159. How does Telemachus provide for his father’s being able to get to town?
160. Who first sees Telemachus in town?
a) What is her reaction?
161. How does his mother respond to his return?
162. How has Telemachus changed since he left home in Book II?
a) Who has been instrumental in making the change?
163. Why does Telemachus want Peirius to keep the gifts Menelaus has given him?
164. How was Telemachus treated by King Nestor?
a) What news did he gain of his father in Pylos?
b) What had King Menelaus predicted?
165. Who is the guest Telemachus has brought with him?
a) What does he predict?
b) What omen has he seen?
166. How are the suitors acting upon Telemachus’ return?
167. What kind of person is Melanthius, the goatherd? Give evidence:
168. Who is Argos?
a) What touching encounter does Odysseus have with him?
169. What is ironic about Odysseus’ entrance into his own home?
170. What food does Telemachus give to his father?
171. What does Athena prompt him to do?
a) What does he learn about the suitors?
172. What does Odysseus predict will happen to Antinous?
173. How does Telemachus react?
a) Of what is he thinking?
174. Why does Penelope send for Eumaius?
a) What does she learn from him?
b) What does she request that she be able to do?
175. What is Penelope’s prediction?
a) How does Telemachus react?
b) How does she interpret his action?
176. What does Odysseus say when Eumaius tells him that Penelope wants to talk with him?
a) How does she react to his reply?
[Books XVIII – XXI]
177. How doe the suitors show their cruelty in the beginning of the book?
178. What amazes them as Odysseus prepares to fight?
179. What is the irony in these lines spoken by Odysseus, “May Zeus and All God give you the dearest wish
of your heart!”
180. Why is the plight of Amphinomus sadder than that of the others?
181. Why does Penelope decide to show herself to the men?
a) How does Athena aid her?
182. What is revealed about Penelope and Telemachs in their talk together?
a) What is Telemachus’ prayer to Zeus and Athena?
183. How does Penelope respond when Eurymachus extols her beauty?
184. Name three gifts Penelope receives from the suitors:
185. How is the use of light used as dramatic irony?
186. Melantho, the serving maid, like Melanthius, gets the root of her name from the Greek “mela” or
“black,” intended to show the cruelty of her nature. What two things are revealed about her:
a) Who else calls Odysseus’ talk “bibble – babble?”
187. After the meal, what request does Odysseus make?
a) What is the general reaction?
188. Who intervenes to allow the beggar to try?
a) Why should the men have no worries about participating?
189. What is Penelope’s perfect retort to Antinous’ worries about his pride and being shown up by the
190. Who takes over?
b) What request does he make of Penelope?
d) How does he react when Eumaius drops the bow in fear when the men shout at him?
191. What actions do Eumaius and Philoitius take?
192. How does Homer build suspense as the audience waits for Odysseus to string the bow and shoot the
193. What transpires between the father and son at the end of the book?
a) What action does Telemachus take?
194. What two things does Odysseus do to start the book?
195. How do the men know they are facing Odysseus?
a) What is his justification for acting?
196. What does Eurymachus do to try to save himself?
a) What other plot does he reveal? What does he promise to Odysseus?
197. How does Melanthius help the suitors?
a) Who stops him?
198. How does Athena spur Odysseus on?
a) How does she prove that Odysseus and Telemachus can fight for themselves?
199. What are the injuries incurred by two of the avengers?
200. When Athena holds her man-shattering aegis-cape over the suitors, how do they react?
201. Many think Homer patterned the minstrel after himself. What reason does this minstrel give to keep
202. What causes Odysseus to smile for the first time?
a) Who are Phemius and Medon?
b) What does Odysseus do for them?
203. Cite two similes that Homer uses to describe the aftermath of the battle with the suitors.
204. What must the disloyal women servants do?
a) What simile describes their fate?
205. What modern examples from movies, television, or literature parallel the maiming and
killing of Melanthius?
206. Since Odysseus does not take killing lightly, what does he do to purify the house?
207. What happens in the final scene of this book?
208. What conclusions might one draw about justice in Homer’s day?
a) What action can the prince take?
b) What part do the citizens apparently play?
209. Cite details that show Eurycleia’s eagerness to tell her mistress the news.
210. How does Penelope react to the news?
b) How does she show that she half believes what she hears?
211. What causes Odysseus to smile for the second time?
212. Of what danger does Odysseus reveal that he is aware?
a) What does this reveal about the law of Homer’s day?
213. What deception will everyone create to keep the townspeople unaware of what has happened?
214. What details describe Athena’s transformation of Odysseus?
215. With what secret does Penelope try Odysseus before she will accept him as her husband?
216. What favor does Athena grant Odysseus and Penelope?
b) What action does she take to bring morning?
c) How does she help Odysseus and Telemachus to escape?
217. What repetition does Homer use to refresh the minds of his listeners?
218. What example do you see of the double standard of morality between men and women apparently
accepted in Homer’s day?
219. What simile does Homer use to describe Penelope’s relief and joy?
220. What two serious events keep the story from being wrapped up immediately?
221. What is the setting for the beginning of this book?
a) What amazes the dead men?
b) What is Agamemnon’s reaction to Odysseus’ execution of the suitors?
c) To Penelope’s waiting for her husband?
d) How does he contrast his death to that of the others?
222. What interesting details about the funeral of prominent men is mentioned incidentally here?
223. What actions of Odysseus and Penelope are repeated by being referred to in this book?
224. To create a picture of Odysseus’ father, Homer is said to have recalled the appearance of an
old farmer he once saw. List three details that make the picture vivid.
225. What physical characteristics already noticed about Odysseus now identifies him for his
a) How does Athena change the older man after his bath?
226. What is happening back at Odysseus’ home?
a) Of what does Medon warn them? Of what does Halitherses Mastorides remind them?
b) What is the townspeople’s reaction?
227. What happens among the gods regarding the events in Ithaca?
228. What must Odysseus and Telemachus do next?
a) Who stops it?
229. Who finally brings peace to Ithaca?
230. How has Homer tied together the loose ends to bring a happy ending?
[Character pronunciation help: http://www.robotwisdom.com/jaj/homer/odyssey.html]
* Questions used with permission from the Center for Learning. Copyright. Not for resale.