Stanley Lombardo Translation.

Due Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Geometric Art Conundrum: Who are these people, and where are they going? Mythological Candidates: Paris/Helen, Jason/Medea, Theseus/Ariadne... Or is it just a farewell scene?


1. What kind of sacrifice does Odysseus offer to the dead?
2. Why do you think that Elpenor is the first shade (psyche) which Odysseus encounters?
3. What does Teiresias tell Odysseus he must do to rid himself of the anger of Poseidon?
4. How is Odysseus' reaction to his mother's shade similar to Achilles' reaction to Patroclus' shade in Iliad 23? What does his mother tell him about the nature of the dead?


5. What is the point of the scene when the shades of women appear to Odysseus? Why do you suppose that Odysseus tells his hosts that he must stop his story at this point? (336) Why does he agree to continue his story (385ff)?
6. How does the shade of Agamemnon reinforce information in books 1 (40ff) and 4 (543ff) when he tells Odysseus of his homecoming (420ff)?
7. What advice does Agamemnon's shade offer to Odysseus? How does he compare and contrast Clytemnestra and Penelope?
8. What is Achilles' shade most concerned about, and how does Odysseus make him happy?
9. Why did Telemonian Ajax' shade refuse to speak to Odysseus?
10. What do Tityos, Tantalus, and Sisyphus have in common?
11. How does Heracles differ from the other shades in this book? What did he look like?
12. What causes Odysseus' interview with the dead to end so abruptly?


Elpenor and Odysseus

Here's a vase painting of Elpenor's ghost appearing to Odysseus. Do you see the sacrificial animals? Who is that person behind Odysseus? How does this scene "match" the Odyssey you read?

(Attic Red Figure Pelike, ca. 440 BCE. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston)



13. Circe warns Odysseus about the Sirens, Scylla, and Charybdis, and tells him how best to survive hem. How does he follow her advice? 

14. What is the Sirens' song? What about the song do you think is so appealing to Odysseus --judging from what you know about him already in this epic?

15. Why does Odysseus not mention to his men Circe's warning about Scylla? (231) Was this a wise decision on his part? Why or why not?

16. What was the most pitiable thing that Odysseus had ever seen? (257ff)

17. Why do Odysseus and his men put in at Helios' island, when Circe and Teiresias both had told Odysseus to avoid Thrinacia? Why does Odysseus not stop his men from killing Helios' cattle? What does this say about Odysseus' relationship with his men?

18. What do Odysseus' men do in an attempt to lessen the sin which they commit against the sun god's cattle? What does this say about the efficacy of prayer?

19. How did Odysseus know that Lampetie had tattled on his men to Helios, and that Helios had gone to Zeus to get revenge? (400)

20. How does Odysseus escape from Charybdis for a second time?


21. What is the importance of wine after Odysseus' "farewell dinner" on Scheria -- for religion, human social interaction, and for sustenance?

22. What happens when Poseidon (the Earthshaker) sees how the Phaeacians have helped Odysseus? (128)

23. Why is Odysseus confused when he wakes up on Ithaca?

24. What is the first thing that Odysseus does when he first wakes up on Ithaca? What do his first speech and his first actions there tell us about his character?

25. Important things happen in the Odyssey when Odysseus is asleep. What happens in this book? What happened in book 12? Why do you think the poet uses this technique? Look at Penelope's sleep in book 18.

26. How does Odysseus' speech to a disguised Athena show his character? How does Athena react to his lies?

27. How do Odysseus and Athena compliment each other? How do they criticize each other? How would you characterize the tone of their conversation?

28. In what three ways does Athena help Odysseus before he goes to Eumaeus' hut?


29. How does Eumaeus the swineherd immediately show his loyalty to his absent master and at the same time show xenia to his master who is present and in disguise?

30. What does Eumaeus say about lying beggars and the hospitality of Odysseus' palace (137ff)? What are the implications for the disguised Odysseus?

31. What oath does Odysseus make to Eumaeus, and why does he swear by the god he does? (175) What is Eumaeus' reaction to his oath?

32. What true things does the disguised Odysseus tell Eumaeus about himself and his men?

33. In Odysseus' story about his life, why does he say that the king of Egypt spared his life? (lines 283-310) What god was involved, and why?

34. What kind of oracle was at Dodona? Who went there, and what god prophesies there? (349ff)

35. What is Eumaeus' reaction to Odysseus' fabricated tale? What does this reaction tell us about his character?

36. When Eumaeus prepares dinner, what does he pray for? What kind of sacrifice does he make, and which divinities does he honor? Why these divinities? (433-479)

37. What is the point of Odysseus' story about the cloak at Troy?

How is Eumaeus like Odysseus?


38. What does Athena say to convince Telemachus to leave Sparta?

39. What does Peisistratus say about xenia (47ff)?

40. Who is Menelaus' and Helen's son (line 108, and see 4.14)? What does his name mean? Why is his name appropriate? (see Glossary of Names, p. 394-5)

41. At lines 120ff Menelaus describes the silver bowl he gives as a guest-gift to Telemachus. Where did he get it? What does that say about his route home from Troy?

42. What gift does Helen give to Telemachus, and what might be ironic about it?(130ff)

43. Who explains the omen of the bird before Menelaus has the chance? What does this show?

44. Why does Peisistratus tell Telemachus to board his ship without visiting his father Nestor again? (228ff)

45. What is Eumaeus' attitude towards the Phoenicians? How did he get this impression?

46. What dilemma related to xenia does Theoclymenus present Telemachus with at the end of this book? What does Telemachus decide?



47. How do dogs help Odysseus recognize his son?

48. Where do you think that the Greek word "hubris" occurs in Telemachus' speech to Eumaeus (75-98)? To whom is it applied?

49. What role does Athena play in the recognition of Odysseus by Telemachus? How do the dogs react to her?

50. In the anagnorisis (recognition) central to this book, how does Odysseus convince his son Telemachus that he is really his father? Why does Telemachus not believe him at first? Why does he finally believe him? What does this say about Telemachus' character?