Odyssey Discussion Questions
1. What is the first characteristic of Odysseus identified by the poet?
2. Are the opening 10 lines of Book 1 more about conquering or enduring?
3. With whom is Odysseus staying at this point in the story?
4. How is the crew of Odysseus characterized?
5. What god bears a grudge against Odysseus, and why?
6. Do you think that Book 1 indicates a universe characterized by justice or by arbitrary suffering?
7. Athena (disguised as Mentes) suggests that Telemachus emulate Orestes. For what act involving his own mother is Orestes famous, and for what is his mother famous? Does this aspect of the advice of Mentes strike you as odd or not, and why?
8. According to Antinous, what trick did Penelope play on the suitors?
9. This trick seems devised less to drive away the suitors than to keep them around but at arm’s length, so to speak. According to Antinous, what else does Penelope do, that would encourage at least some of the suitors to stick around?
10. To what city does Telemachus travel in this book, and what is the name of the king he visits there?
11. What person does this king suggest that Telemachus should emulate? Who else made the same suggestion and in what Book, and of what possible scenario concerning Penelope are we thereby reminded?
12. To what place does Telemachus continue his journey, and what couple does he visit there?
13. What is the name of the drug that Helen dispenses, and how can the effects of this drug be seen as sinister?
14. Does Odysseus strike you as heroic when we see him for the first time in this book? Explain.
15. What god travels to Ogygia to tell Calpyso to release Odysseus, and how is this god associated in mythology with the Underworld?
16. Is there any indication that Calpyso resents the interference by male gods in her love life?
17. Does anything that happens to Odysseus on his journey show that Circe represented a threat to him even after he left her island?
18. What goddess saves Odysseus life on the journey, and how does she do so?
19. What do you think is the symbolism of Odysseus coming ashore on Scheria in his “birthday suit”?
20. Under what kind of trees does Odysseus fall asleep on the island of Scheria, and with what goddess is this kind of tree associated? What do you think is the symbolism of this?
21. How old do you think Nausicaa is, what prompts her to go to the place where she will first encounter Odysseus, what is the place to which she goes, and what does she take with her to wash?
22. Does the simile describing Odysseus as he meets Nausicaa seem to you appropriate? Explain.
23. What threat can we suppose Nausicaa represents to the homecoming of Odysseus?
24. With what goddess does Odysseus compare Nausicaa, what is the chief function of this goddess with respect to girls, and with what other goddess might we have expected Odysseus to compare her?
25. What/whom does Alcinous...