Odyssey Books 1-8 questions

When you have finished reading books 1-8, complete the worksheet questions. You are encouraged to look back to the text to help you compose your answers.

Book 1

Book 2

Book 3

Book 4

Book 5

Book 6

Book 7

Book 8


1. What do you see as the attitude of the Gods toward men?

2. What do you see as the attitude of the Greeks toward hospitality?

3. How would you characterize Telemachus at this point? What are his strengths?

4. What are his weaknesses?

5. How does Athena plan to affect Telemachus?

6. What tragic homecoming story do we hear of? How does it relate to the situation in Ithaca?

7. Who is Phemius? What is his importance?

8. How does Telemachus show strength with Penelope?

9. How does this relate to the visit of Athena?


10. What is the suitor’s attitude toward Penelope’s reluctance to choose one of them?

11. Why do the suitors think it is their right to “demand” that she choose?

12. What is the omen and what are the two different interpretations of its meaning?

13. How does Telemachus respond to the position put forward by Antinous?


14. How does Athena help Telemachus prepare for Nestor?

15. Why is it important for Telemachus to meet Nestor in particular? What does he seem to represent?

16. Why is it important for Telemachus to meet Pisistratus?

17. What does Telemachus learn about himself? About the meaning of being a son? About the treatment of guests? About sacrifices to the gods?


18. How do Menelaus and Helen compare with Nestor as hosts?

19. Do Menelaus and Helen know who Telemachus is at the beginning of the book?

20. What do you make of the relationship between Menelaus and Helen (remember, the Trojan war was fought to get Helen back)

21. What is impressive about their palace?

22. Who is Proteus? how does Menelaus catch him and with whose help?

23. What does Menelaus tell Telemachus about Odysseus’ whereabouts?

24. Why is information withheld so frequently (Proteus at first balks, and Penelope’s sister, in a dream, is also reluctant to share)? Why is other information (like Helen’s) suspect?


25. How long does Odysseus stay on Calypso’s island? What is the source of Calypso’s power over Odysseus?

26. What do we learn of Calypso’s feelings for Odysseus? What will she give him if he stays with her?

27. Calypso asks Odysseus to compare her with Penelope; does Odysseus respond satisfactorily?Explain.

28. How would you characterize the making of the raft and the departure of Odysseus?

29. Why does Zeus, despite his liking of Odysseus, allow Poseidon to make the journey such an ordeal?

30. After two days of swimming, note several phases of decision making. Does Odysseus accomplish his rescue on his own?


31. Why does Nausicaa go to the river to wash clothes? What is the explanation she gives her father?

32. What does Odysseus choose not to do when he sees Nausicaa? What does he do instead?

33. What do you think Odysseus’s speech to Nausicaa tells us about him?

34. Why does Nausicaa not want to escort Odysseus to the palace?


35. How does the palace and the way it is run compare to other palaces we have seen?

36. What is the difference between the way Odysseus greeted Nausicaa and the way he greets Arete?

37. What does this tell us about Odysseus’s perception of the two women?

38. What does Odysseus say when asked to identify himself?

39. What is Arete’s role in helping Odysseus on his journey?


40. Why might Demodocus’s blindness be significant?

41. With whom is Odysseus quarreling in the first song by Demoducus? What does Alcinous do when he sees how Odysseus reacts to the song?

42. What does Odysseus do to win the respect of the young Phaeacians? Why?

43. What does Alcinous ask Odysseus at the end of Book 8?