The composition of "The Odyssey" is attributed to Homer, a classical
about whom we know practically nothing. It is a sequel of sorts to "The
Iliad" and follows the hero Odysseus on his long and often side-tracked
journey home from the Trojan War. The epic appeared in written form
around 700-750 BC and has proved to be one of the most enduring works
classical literature the world over. It established certain conventions
for the epic genre, such as the invocation of the muse, the use of epic
similes and epithets, and the technique of beginning the story in
The epic abounds with figures from Greek mythology, including such
and goddesses as:
By following the links below, you will find book-by-book synopses of
Odyssey" (call them 'Sara's notes,' if you will); please keep in mind
they are in no way to be used as substitutes for reading the text, and
reading them instead of the text will not enable you to pass the
or the test on this work.
Zeus — king of the gods and goddesses; god of thunder and justice.
Hera — queen of the gods and goddesses; wife of Zeus; goddess of
Hades — king of the underworld; Zeus's brother.
Demeter — goddess of grain and the harvest; Zeus' sister.
Persephone — queen of the underworld; Demeter's daughter.
Poseidon — god of the sea; Zeus's brother.
Heracles — god of athletes; Zeus' son.
Hestia — goddess of the hearth; Zeus' sister.
Athena — goddess of wisdom; goddess of righteous wars, peaceful arts,
handicrafts; Zeus's daughter.
Aphrodite — goddess of love and beauty.
Eros — god of love; Aphrodite's son.
Hephaestus — god of metalworkers and artisans; god of fire; Hera's son.
Apollo — god of light and music, archery and healing; Zeus' son.
Artemis — goddess of hunting, wild things, the moon, and childbirth;
daughter, Apollo's twin sister.
Ares — god of war and thieves; son of Hera and Zeus.
Hermes — god of merchants; messenger of the gods; Zeus' son.
Dionysus — god of wine and fertility; Zeus' son.
Books I - IV
Books V - VIII
Books IX - XI
Books XII - XVI
Books XVII - XX
Books XXI - XXIV
Questions for close reading:
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Is Odysseus a good representation of a hero? What are his heroic
What is the role of the supernatural in the tale?
What is woman's role in "The Odyssey"?
What is the function of dreams in "The Odyssey"?
How does hospitality function as a criterion of civilization in this
What does Book XXIV contribute to "The Odyssey"?
How would you describe the relationship between Penélopê
How is the arrogance of power demonstrated in "The Odyssey"?
To what extent is Odysseus responsible for his fate?
What factors contibrute to Telémakhos's growth to manhood?