CL106/EN106 Week 4:


Homer, Odyssey books 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7:


note: read summary of book 2 (scroll down for book summaries)


1. Getting started again:

a. Since book 1 is the start of the poem, what information is given in this book to get the plot moving? What, to your mind, should be here and isn 't?

b. From the point of view of plot organization, contrast the structure of the Odyssey, as it is seen in book 1, with the plot structure of the Iliad.


2. The principal characters:

a. Describe Telemakhos as he is seen in the books of the Odyssey read for today 's class.

b. Describe Athena as she is seen in the books of the Odyssey read for today 's class.

c. Is it really correct to describe Athena as a character in the Odyssey, or is she in some way external, a visitor from a different reality, as it were? What difference does it make?

d. Even though Odysseus doesn't appear until book 5 the earlier books create an image of the absent hero. How does this image compare with the reality of the man as we see him for the first time in book 5?


3. Compare/contrast:

a. Compare and contrast the role of the gods in the Iliad with their role in the books of the Odyssey read for today 's class.

b. Compare Helen as we see her here in the Odyssey with Helen in the Iliad. How is she the same? How is she different? Which is the "real" Helen? What does "real" mean in this context?


4. The Phaiakians:

a. What is Nausikaa like? Why does Homer spend as much time on her as he does?

b. What is the world of the Phaiakians like? How does this portrayal of the Phaiakians fit into the Odyssey as you understand it thus far?


5. Xenia:

a. Xenia ("hospitality"), both xenia properly offered and received and xenia refused or abused, is a major theme in the Odyssey. How is this theme touched on in the books of the Odyssey read for today 's class?

b. In particular, compare the state of affairs back in Ithake with conditions in Nestor 's Pylos, in Menelaus ' Sparta, and among the Phaiakians, as seen in the Odyssey.