Questions and Answers on the Odyssey

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The Odyssey Study Questions- ANSWERS
Book One (p. 77-92):
1. What do you see as the attitude of the Gods' towards men? They think men are foolish. They bring most pain and suffering upon themselves. 2. What do you see as the attitude of the Greeks towards hospitality? They take the role of hosts seriously. The Greeks had to open their home, be gracious, and share their food, and drink with their guests. 3. How would you characterize Telemachus at this point? What are his strengths? Telemachus is trying to be a good host and holds himself to a higher set of standards. He is disgusted by the behaviors of the suitors around his home. He cares about the values and morals of the Greeks. 4. What are his weaknesses?

He has allowed the suitors to overtake his father’s home. 5. How does Athena plan to affect Telemachus?
Athena poses as a man, Mentes (Odysseus’ friend) and enters Telemachus’ home. She tells Telemachus that Odysseus is still alive and that he must rid the home of the suitors. 6. What tragic homecoming story do we hear of? How does it relate to the situation in Ithaca? The Achaeans’ Journey Home from Troy. It is the story of Odysseus and his men. 7. Who is Phemius?

The bard- he tells stories and entertains.
8. How does Telemachus show strength with Penelope?
He confronts her when she is weeping over Odysseus. “I hold the reins of power in this house” (p. 89) 9. How does this relate to the visit of Athena?
Athena helps Telemachus to confront his mother and the suitors- something he would not have done on his own. Athena now sends him on a journey to find his father (Book Two). Book Two (p. 93-106):

1. What is the suitor's attitude towards Penelope's reluctance to choose one of them? The suitors think Penelope is toying with them. They want Telemachus to stand up to his mother and either make her choose a suitor or kick her out. 2. Why do they think it is their right to "demand" that she choose? They think they can demand Penelope choose because she has been leading them on for over three years. Penelope has been weaving a shroud for Laertes. She told the suitors she would choose from among them when she finished the shroud, but the men found out she has been unweaving it at night. 3. What are the two different interpretations of the omen? The omen: two eagles (Zeus’ animal) fly across the sky (p. 98). Interpretation 1: Halitherses says Zeus is saying Odysseus will return home shortly (p. 98). Interpretation 2: Eurymachus says they are just birds, but then offers his own prophecy: Telemachus will be hurt and Halitherses will be fined (p. 99). 4. How does Telemachus respond to the position put forward by Antinous? Antinous wants Telemachus to force his mother to choose and says that Telemachus should forget that he and his mother have been wronged and just feast with the suitors. Telemachus refuses on all accounts. Antinous says Telemachus will die on his journey. (p. 102-103)

*He lets his nurse (nursemaid) know he is leaving to go to Sparta, but doesn’t want to tell his mother till “ten or a dozen days have passed / or she misses me herself and learns I’m gone” because “she mustn’t mar her lovely face with tears” (p. 105). BOOK THREE SUMMARY

At Pylos, Telemachus and Mentor (Athena in disguise) witness an impressive religious ceremony in which dozens of bulls are sacrificed to Poseidon, the god of the sea. Although Telemachus has little experience with public speaking, Mentor gives him the encouragement that he needs to approach Nestor, the city’s king, and ask him about Odysseus. Nestor, however, has no information about the Greek hero. He recounts that after the fall of Troy a falling-out occurred between Agamemnon and Menelaus, the two Greek brothers who had led the expedition. Menelaus set sail for Greece immediately, while Agamemnon decided to wait a day and continue sacrificing on the shores of Troy. Nestor...
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