The Odyssey Study Guide (Books 1-8)

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THE ODYSSEY – Notes

I. BOOK 1

A. Odysseus Captive, Suitors Invade
i. All Greek heroes return home, except Odysseus
ii. Odysseus held captive on island Ogygia by Calypso, who loves him iii. Suitors invade palace in Ithica hoping to marry Queen Penelope iv. Prince Telemachus still a young man and powerless to stop suitors

B. Athena Helps, Penelope Mourns
i. With Zeus’s permission, Athena travels to Ithica to help Telemachus ii. Athena disguises herself as old friend Mentes and says Odysseus is alive and will soon return home to Ithica iii. Athena then tells Telemachus to assemble the suitors and banish them iv. Penelope hears the bard sing a song about the Greek’s suffering on their return from Troy, making her even more miserable v. Telemachus scolds her saying other Greeks did not return home vi. Telemachus then tells her that he will handle the suitors himself

C. Telemachus Banishes, Suitors Refuse, Telemachus Suspects Athena’s Helping i. Penelope returns to her rooms, Telemachus announces the assembly to banish the suitors ii. Suitors refuse to leave and scold Telemachus for his insolence iii. Antinous and Eurychamus were two particularly defiant suitors iv. They ask the identitiy of the visitor, Mentes, Athena in disguise v. Telemachus suspects Mentes is Athena, but says Mentes is family friend

II. BOOK 2

A. Assembly Begins, Telemachus Gives Speech, Antinous Argues i. Aegyptius, Ithacan elder, speaks first at first assembly since Odysseus left ii. Telemachus gives speech about loss of Odysseus and his home, the suitors invasion of the palace and says a decent man would ask father for her hand iii. Antinous blames Penelope who still has not chosen a husband iv. Antinous reminds assembly of Penelope’s funeral shroud trick, in which Penelope said she would choose a husband after she finished weaving funeral shroud only to unravel it each night so it would never be finished v. Antinous says send Penelope to her father Icarius, he can choose husband

B. Telemachus Defends Penelope, Eagles Fight, Bad Omen for Suitors i. Telemachus refuses to throw out his own mother Penelope ii. Telemachus then calls upon the gods to punish greedy suitors iii. Just then, a pair of eagles locked in combat appear just above them iv. Soothsayer Halitherses interprets eagles fighting as sign from gods v. He says it means Odysseus will come back and will massacre suitors if they don’t leave before his return vi. Suitors do not believe soothsayer and meeting ends in deadlock

C. Telemachus Prepares, Athena Helps, Telemachus Comforts His Nurse i. Athena disguises herself as Mentor, another old family friend ii. Telemachus prepares for voyage and Athena encourages him iii. Athena disguises herself as Telemachus and finds him a loyal crew iv. Telemachus keeps his voyage a secret from everyone but nurse Eurycleia v. Eurycleia begs Telemachus not to sail like his father, fearing for him vi. Telemachus comforts her and says he has a god on his side

III. BOOK 3

A. Telemachus reaches Pylos, Talks to Nestor, Nestor Tells What He Knows i. At Pylos, Telemachus and Athena watch bulls sacrificed to Poseidon ii. Athena, as Mentor, advises Telemachus on how to approach King Nestor iii. Nestor went with Menelaus after Troy, Odysseus stayed with Agamemnon iv. Menelaus and Agamemnon brothers, but had a falling out after Troy v. Nestor hopes Athena shows Telemachus kindness as she showed his father vi. Nestor sympathizes about suitors and says he hopes Telemachus gains glory in defense of his father as Orestes did for his father, Agamemnon

B. Telemachus Asks About Agamemnon
i. Telemachus asks Nestor what happened to Agamemnon
ii. Nestor explains what happened between Agamemnon and Aegisthus iii. Agamemnon found Aegisthus, who stayed at home while others went to war, had...
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