The Odyssey


Books 3 and 4

Book 3 Summary

Telemachus arrives in Pylos with Athena, who is still disguised as Mentor. Hundreds of people line the beach, all participating in a ritual sacrifice of nearly a hundred bulls to the sea god Poseidon. Telemachus is hesitant to approach the impressive King Nestor for news of Odysseus, but Athena tells the prince bluntly that he cannot afford to be shy. She assures him that he will know what to say when the time comes. They join in the feasting as guests, and Athena prays to Poseidon, asking him to reward the Pylians for their generous sacrifice and to grant herself and Telemachus safe passage on the sea.

After the feasting, Telemachus eloquently explains his reason for coming to the island to King Nestor. Although Nestor is impressed with the young prince, he has no recent news regarding Odysseus, for he has not seen the hero since shortly after the battle of Troy. Nestor tells how, after the battle, there was a disagreement between Agamemnon and his brother Menelaus. Agamemnon chose to remain in Troy and make more sacrifices to the gods while Menelaus departed for Greece. King Nestor went with Menelaus, while Odysseus stayed with Agamemnon. Nestor says he will pray for Athena to show Telemachus the same favor in his quest as she had shown Odysseus. He encourages Telemachus to be as brave and strong as he appears to be, and to avenge his father against the suitors who have overrun their estate. If he can do this, Nestor adds, men will sing his praises forever, just as they sing the praises of Orestes, Agamemnon’s son, who also avenged his father.

Agamemnon, King Nestor discloses, went home after the Trojan War to find that his wife, Clytemnestra, had been seduced by and married to Aegisthus, a coward who had refused to fight in the war. Clytemnestra did not want her husband back, and Aegisthus killed Agamemnon. Orestes, Agamemnon’s son, then returned from exile in Athens and slew both his mother and her new husband, thus reclaiming Agamemnon’s kingdom. In light of this story, Nestor encourages Telemachus...

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Essays About The Odyssey