STUDY GUIDE FOR THE ODYSSEY-Final - Trussville City Schools

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STUDY GUIDE FOR THE ODYSSEY-Final - Trussville City Schools Powered By Docstoc

This study guide is not supposed to cover everything you need to know for the test. Instead,
this guide is meant to help you know what areas you should study from your notes.
Remember to use internet sources (Spark Notes, etc.) if you do not remember parts of The

The Odyssey was composed in ancient Greece (750-725 B.C.) by Homer, a blind poet (though
scholars now believe more than one writer is probably responsible), whose epic poems were first
told orally. The Odyssey tells the story of Odysseus, a hero of the Trojan War, who is trying to
make his way home from Troy to Ithaca.

There are several important characteristics of an epic poem:
     An epic hero, with superhuman strength who is helped and harmed by interfering gods
     An epic plot, which is likely to have strange creatures, divine intervention, and big
        events, like wars and treacherous weather
     An epic setting, which includes exotic lands and centers on the hero’s travels
     Epic themes, such as courage, loyalty, curiosity, and life and death

Characters to know from The Odyssey (look these up if you do not know them):
       Odysseus                   Athena                               Nohbdy
       Zeus                       Telemachus                           Penelope
       Hermes                     Calypso                              Laertes
       Alcinous                   Circe                                Lotus Eaters
       Cyclopes                   Polyphemus                           Poseidon
       Aeolus                     Laestrygones                         Tiresias
       Sirens (or Harpies)        Scylla                               Charybdis
       Eumaeus                    Argos                                Antinous

Book 1: A Goddess Intervenes
    The poet introduces Odysseus, a successful warrior who, after conquering the city of
      Troy, has wandered the seas for many years. Now he wants only to return safely to his
      home and family.
    Athena, the goddess of war, intervenes on Odysseus’s behalf, and appeals to Zeus for
      help in getting Odysseus home.
    While Odysseus has been away, his son, Telemachus, has grown to be a man, and his
      wife, Penelope, is being pursued by a group of suitors who are living in Odysseus’s home
      in Ithaca and are plotting to kill Telemachus.

Book 5: Calypso, the Sweet Nymph
    Odysseus has been held captive for many years by the goddess Calypso on her island.
      Zeus sends the god Hermes to order her to release Odysseus; she offers advice and helps
      Odysseus build a raft on which he can sail to Scheria, his next destination.
    Calypso enchanted Odysseus into a relationship; however, Odysseus chooses to leave the
      island so he can return “to grown old” with his wife Penelope.
Book 9: New Coasts and Poseidon’s Son
    Odysseus has met King Alcinous and begins telling him of his adventures since leaving
      Troy. He relates the tale of the Lotus Eaters and his encounter with the brutal Cyclops,
      Polyphemus, a son of Poseidon.
    When Odysseus and his crew enter the cave of the Cyclops, the crew wants to just take
      what supplies they need and leave; however, Odysseus’s curiosity is too much and they
      end up trapped in the cave when the Cyclops returns and rolls a large stone blocking the
      opening to the cave.
    Odysseus tricks the Cyclops both by getting him drunk on wine and convincing the
      Cyclops that Odysseus’s name is “Nohbdy.” While the Cyclops sleeps Odysseus’s men
      blind the Cyclops with a sharpened spike of wood.
    When the Cyclops rolls away the stone to try to get help from his fellow Cyclopes,
      Odysseus and his men escape by tying themselves to the underside of sheep walking out
      of the cave.

Book 10: Circe, the Grace of the Witch
    Odysseus and his men land on the island of Aeolus, the wind king, who gives Odysseus
      two parting gifts: a bag with fair winds to guide them back to Ithaca, and a bag with
      unfavorable winds. Thinking the bags hold treasure, Odysseus’s men open the bag of
      unfavorable winds while Odysseus sleeps, and they are blown away from Ithaca.
    They sail by the land of the Laestrygones, fierce cannibals who bombard the fleet of ships
      with boulders.
    Eventually, Odysseus and his men arrive at the island home of Circe, a goddess and
      enchantress. She detains the men for a year, allowing them to go home only if they will
      visit the land of the dead and hear a prophecy from the ghost of Tiresias.

Book 11: The Land of the Dead
    Odysseus and his crew travel to the underworld where they make a sacrifice into a
      “bloody pit.” Countless dead souls come out because they are attracted to the pit, but
      Odysseus and his men hold them off.
    The blind sear Tiresias arrives and warns Odysseus that trouble awaits him when he
      returns to Ithaca. He will arrive home unknown and friendless, but he will again become
      master of his house. However, first he must regain the favor of Poseidon, who he angered
      because he blinded Polyphemus.
    Odysseus also talks with the dead souls of his mother, Agamemnon, Achilles, and former
      dead crew members.

Book 12: The Sirens: Scylla and Charybdis
    Odysseus and his men return to Circe’s island, where she advises him on how to get past
      the bewitching Sirens (the Harpies) and the horrible sea monsters Scylla (the six-headed
      monster) and Charybdis (the fierce whirlpool).
    Odysseus puts wax in the ears of his crew so that they cannot hear the bewitching songs
      of the Sirens, and has his crew tie him to the mast.
    He successfully evades the Sirens but does not escape the monsters without losing some
      men. Odysseus ends up drifting alone in the sea until he lands on Calypso’s island, thus
      ending Odysseus’s telling of his adventures to King Alcinous.
Book 16: Father and Son
    Sent safely on his way by King Alcinous, Odysseus reaches Ithaca. The goddess Athena
      disguises him as an old man so that he may surprise the evil suitors who are courting his
      wife, Penelope. Odysseus greets Eumaeus, his faithful swineherd, and Telemachus, his
      own son, returned home after many years abroad.

Book 17: The Beggar and the Manor
    Disguised as a beggar, Odysseus returns to his home.
    As an example of how his household has deteriorated during his absence, Odysseus finds
      Argos, a dog that he had trained as a puppy before leaving for the Trojan War, lying near
      death in his home. Though Argos revives when he hears his master’s voice (though
      Odysseus is disguised), the dog dies.

Book 21: The Test of the Bow
    Not recognizing the beggar as her husband, and weary from grief and waiting, Penelope
      proposes an archery contest to the suitors, with marriage to her as the prize.
    Odysseus particularly notices Antinous, a rude and demanding suitor, who seems to be
      the leader of the suitors.
    Still disguised as an old man, Odysseus beats them all in the contest, by first stringing his
      old bow and then shooting an arrow through a series of axe-heads.

Book 22: Death in the Great Hall
    With Telemachus and Eumaeus at his side, Odysseus sheds his disguise and does battle
      with the suitors, showing them no mercy.
    The suitors make various attempts to defeat Odysseus and Telemachus. Athena urges
      Odysseus on to battle, yet holds back her fullest aid, waiting for Odysseus and
      Telemachus to prove themselves. Eventually, the suitors recognize Athena’s presence and
      frantically try to escape, but all are killed.
    Thus the battle with the suitors comes to an end, and Odysseus prepares himself to meet

Book 23: The Trunk of the Olive Tree
    Hardened by years of waiting, Penelope is not convinced that this man is really her
      husband. She tests him, playing a trick that only Odysseus would recognize, as he tells
      her the secret they share about how he made their bed from an olive tree. Odysseus
      passes the test, and husband and wife are reunited.
    Odysseus and Penelope tell each other about all that happened to them while Odysseus
      was away. Then Odysseus visits his father, Laertes, to give him the good news of his safe

                                          Works Cited

LITERATURE: American Literature. Evanston, IL: McDougal Littell, 2009. (Chapter

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