The Odyssey – The Odyssey Study Guide – Questions for Review

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What type of poem is the Odyssey?
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Epic poem. The Odyssey is an epic, a very long poem on a single subject.
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2. What war has Odysseus just fought in at the start of the poem?
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Odysseus just fought in the Trojan War. After attacking the city of Troy by masterfully gaining entrance to the city with a wooden Trojan Horse, takes ten years.
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3. What is his desired destination?
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To return home to Ithaca, Greece after the battle of Troy
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4. Describe the Lotus-Eaters
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The Lotus Eaters, LAZY, peaceful, hippy-like, who were ‘high”, non caring people who ate a sweet, pleasure-producing drug inducing plant.
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5. Why does Odysseus expect the Cyclops to welcome his men?
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The Guest / Host Relationship. When Odysseus enters the cave of Polyphemus, he expects to be treated with hospitality (thinking the Cyclops would not want to offend Zeus, the god of hospitality). Odysseus believes the rules of Greek hospitality will be followed and helps himself to food and shelter.
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6. What is the Cyclops’ name?
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Polyphemus, he is the son of Poseidon.
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7. How does Polyphemus react to Odysseus’ threats about the gods?
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Polyphemus laughs and says he has no reverence for the gods. The reason he does not abide by these rules is because his father is the god Poseidon. He does not fear the wrath of the gods because he feels his father will protect him.
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8. What is the Cyclops’s reaction to Odysseus pleas? (lines 275-283)
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The Cyclops takes 2 of Odysseus’ men and eats them.
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9. Why doesn’t Odysseus kill the Cyclops immediately?
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Odysseus does not kill the Cyclops (Polyphemus) because the cave entrance is blocked by a large boulder, and the Cyclops was the only one strong enough to move the large boulder.
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10. What name does Odysseus give to the Cyclops as he feeding him wine?
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“Nohbdy.”
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11. How does Odysseus use his wits to escape the cave?
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Odysseus tells Polyphemus that his name is “Nohbdy.” Odysseus plans to get the Cyclops drunk, blind him and escape the cave by tying themselves to the sheep, and leave after the Cyclops moves the large boulder blocking the cave entrance to allow the sheep out.
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12. Why don’t Cyclops’s neighbors come to his rescue?
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The Cyclops screamed and when the other Cyclops come to help him, they ask who had done this to him, he replies “Nohbdy”, so they thought nobody was attacking him and left. Their race is uncivilized.
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13. How does Odysseus bring about a curse on himself?
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As Odysseus and his men sail away. Odysseus calls out to Polyphemus, taunting, and laughing at him and telling him that it was not “Nobody”, but he was Odysseus, who had blinded him and fooled him.
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14. Who is Teiresias?
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Teiresias is a blind Theban prophet that Odysseus summons from the land of the dead (underworld) to learn how to get home and about upcoming dangers on his journey. He shows Odysseus how to get back to Ithaca and allows Odysseus to communicate with the other souls in Hades.
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15. What three things does Teiresias explain to Odysseus?
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Don’t eat Helio’s cattle, Cynbelus and Scylla, and return under “Strange Sail (coming home alone)”
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16. What power do the Sirens hold?
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Temptation The Sirens lured (tempted) sailors to their death with their singing (a bewitching song).
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17. What is the significance of bees wax?
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Bees wax was placed into the ears of Odysseus’ crew so they would not be lured by the Sirens song. Odysseus was tied to the ship’s mast.
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18. What two creatures must Odysseus navigate in the ocean?
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Charybdis (a whirlpool) Scylla (a six-headed sea monster, described to his men as a rock shoal).
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19. Which does he decide to face and why?
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Odysseus chose Scylla, the lesser of two evils. Losing 6 men instead of the entire crew and ship. Being between Scylla and Charybdis is an idiom deriving from Greek mythology, meaning “having to choose between two evils”.
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20. Who is Helios?
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The Sun God with the cattle.
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21. How long are Odysseus’s men trapped before their bread and wine runs out?
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One month
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22. Who convinces the men to disobey Odysseus order? How does he persuade them?
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Eurylochus, he told Odysseus’ men that starvation was not a noble way to die. Pathos Logo Ethos. Starvation is worse death, drowning is better
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23. Why doesn’t Odysseus stop his men from slaughtering the cows?
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Odysseus withdraws to the interior of the island to seek guidance from the gods, the men are left without his guiding leadership. Odysseus falls asleep while praying to the gods, and when he returns it’s too late.
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24. How does Helios punish the men?
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Helios begs Zeus to kill Odysseus and his men. Zeus indicates he will destroy Odysseus’ ship and kill all on board. Zeus strikes the ship with his lightning bolt, killing all except Odysseus.
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25. How long is Odysseus away from Ithaca?
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20 years (10 years at war and 10 years to return home)
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26. Name Odysseus’s wife, son, and favorite swineherd.
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Penelope, Telemachus and Eumaeus.
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27. What circumstances does Odysseus find in his home?
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Over run by suitors.
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28. How does Athena disguise Odysseus?
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As a beggar
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29. What is a suitor?
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The men after Penelope’s hand (courting her) after Odysseus’ disappears.
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30. What does Odysseus ask his son to do to prepare to take on the suitors?
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To hide all the weapons into a room.
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31. Who is Argus?
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Odysseus’ faithful dog
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32. Which suitor denies the beggar’s request for food?
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Antinous
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33. How is the beggar injured?
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By having a stool broken over his shoulder, by Antinous (the Suitor)
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34. What is Penelope’s ruse?
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She promised to marry after she finished weaving a coffin cover (The Shroud of Laertes) for Odysseus’ father’s funeral, but she never finishes it. She weaves by day and unravelled by night.
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35. What challenge does Penelope offer the suitors?
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Penelope challenges her suitors to a 2 part archery competition – 2 things only Odysseus could do. (1) String Odysseus’s bow (2) Shoot an arrow through 12 axe handles.
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36. Who is victorious?
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Odysseus
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37. Who is Odysseus’s first victim? How is he killed?
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Odysseus kills Antinous first, by shooting an arrow through his neck (throat). He is the figurative leader and most obnoxious of Penelope’s suitors, ultimately wanting to kill Telemachus.
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38. Which five people kill the hundreds of suitors?
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Athena, Odysseus, Telemachus, Eurchus and 1 other servants.
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39. What is Penelope’s final test for Odysseus?
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Penelope test of “symbolism.” Penelope tells one of the maids to move the bed from the couple’s bedroom for the “stranger” to sleep in. Only Odysseus, Penelope, and the maid know that the bed cannot be moved because Odysseus built it with an olive tree trunk as one of the bedsteads. Angrily, Odysseus demands to know how the bed can possibly be moved. With this question, Penelope knows this man truly is her husband who has finally returned. Her test shows she is a clever woman equal to Odysseus in cunning.

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