The Odyssey


Discussion Questions

Study Questions

1. The first four books of The Odyssey focus on the personal journey of Telemachus from boy to man, and by the end of the poem Telemachus is fighting bravely at his father’s side. In what specific ways does Telemachus change and mature during the course of the poem?

2. Both Circe and Calypso are goddesses who fall in love with Odysseus, yet the two are very different. How do the characters and actions of Circe and Calypso differ?

3. Examine the concept of hospitality throughout The Odyssey. Which characters display hospitality? Which do not? What happens to the characters who violate or ignore the important value of hospitality? What about the characters who uphold it?

Essay Topics

1. Unlike The Iliad, The Odyssey includes several significant female characters, whose actions affect the plot and the outcome of the story. Consider both goddesses as well as mortal women, and write an essay examining the role of women in The Odyssey.

2. In your opinion, is the character of Odysseus static throughout the poem, or does he demonstrate some kind of transformation? Using specific examples from the text, write an essay defending your opinion.

3. The goddess Athena often assumes the disguise of an old man named Mentor, from which our contemporary English word “mentor”—meaning “guide” or “teacher”—is derived. Although Athena has great powers, she does not simply aid, protect and defend Odysseus and other mortals. Write an essay describing how, specifically, Athena functions as a teacher or guide for Odysseus and his son.

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Essays About The Odyssey