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Odyssey Book One

• The Book begins with an invocation of the Muses


• We hear that we will be told about Odysseus’ travels and that he has suffered
great anguish. He was unable to save his men but this is their fault as they
transgressed against Apollo.
• All the other survivors of the war have now reached home
• Odysseus is being held against his will by the sea Nymph Calypso who wishes
to marry him, and he has been there for a while.
• All the gods pity him apart from Poseidon, however he is at dinner with the
Ethiopians
• All the other gods however have assembled in Zeus’ palace and Zeus starts a
discussion saying what a lamentable thing it is that mortals blame their
problems on the gods. He goes on to cite Aegisthus as an example of this.
• Athene agrees that Aegisthus deserved what he got but changes the subject
and asks what he has done wrong to anger Zeus
• Zeus tells her that he has done nothing and speaks highly of him, calling him
the wisest man alive and tells us that he has been honourable to the gods in his
offerings.
• Zeus also tells us that the one who is angry at Odysseus is Poseidon who is
angry because Odysseus blinded his Cyclops son Polyphemus and Zeus agrees
as Poseidon will not be able to struggle against all of the gods.
• Athene draws together a plan, send Hermes to Calypso to tell her to release
Odysseus while Athene will go to talk to Telemachus and tell him to call an
assembly and speak his mind about the suitors. After this she will send him to
Pylos and then Sparta to ask about Odysseus’ return.
• Athene then goes down to Ithaca and disguises herself as Mentes an old family
friend.
• As she goes in she finds the suitors sitting in front of the door, drinking wine,
playing with counters and eating Odysseus’ live stock.
• Telemachus is the first to notice her and we are told that he was sitting among
the suitors imagining how his father might come back and drive them away
from his home.
• He sits her down on a large chair away from the suitors and a maid comes over
to give her wine and food.
• The suitors also come in and help themselves to the foods but once they’re full
then they go to dance and listening to music
• While they are doing this Telemachus points out to Athene that the suitors are
living off another man and believes that Odysseus has washed up on an island
somewhere and is dead. He then asks who the visitor is.
• Athene answers that she is an old family friend and that the family ties go way
back, as Laertes could vouch for where he not elsewhere.
• She explains the reason that she is there is that she heard Odysseus was not
dead and that he will soon return home. She goes on to say how much like
Odysseus Telemachus looks.
• Telemachus replies that he cannot know that he is Odysseus’ son as he as not
set eyes on him in so long.
• Athene then asks who the suitors are and comments on their disgraceful
behaviour. Telemachus explains who they are and tells us that Penelope has no
desire to remarry
• Athene moved replies that if only Odysseus was here then he would be able to
kick the suitors out. She then urges him to call and assembly telling the suitors
to go home. Then he should she says go and ask about Odysseus in Pylos and
Sparta to see Nestor and Menelaus respectively.
• She then relays the story of Agamemnon and Orestes, and urges Telemachus
to be more like Orestes. She then tells Telemachus that she plans to leave.
• Telemachus asks him to stay longer but she declines and disappears.
Telemachus then realises he has been in the presence of a god.
• The suitors are listening to a song about how hard it was for the Greeks to
return home from Troy. Penelope comes down and asks the minstrel to play
something else but Telemachus rebukes her and sends her back to her room,
claiming that he is the master of the house.
• Telemachus then addresses the suitors and tells them that in the morning he
will ask them to leave and that he will pray that he will one day destroy them.
• Antinous, a suitor, answers that Telemachus is haughty and that he hopes that
Telemachus will never become king.
• Telemachus replies that he intends to be the master of the house and the
servants.
• Eurymachus then replies that he hopes that no one will harm Telemachus’
property but asks about who the visitor was earlier, to which Telemachus
answers that it was Mentes, but negates to mention that it was in fact a god.
• The suitors stay up all night but Telemachus retires early and starts to plan the
assembly for the next day.

Odyssey Book 3
• Telemachus arrives at Pylos to see people on the shore sacrificing to Poseidon
bull’s thigh bones.
• The crew get off the ship and Athene tells Telemachus not to be scared or shy
when addressing Nestor. Telemachus (still thinking it is Mentor not Athene)
replies that he cannot as Nestor is so much older than him, to which Athene
replies that he shouldn’t be scared as where his intelligence fails him a god
will help him.
• Nestor’s son Peisistratus welcomes them and sits Telemachus down beside
Nestor, giving them meat and wine. They also obey all of the rites of
honouring the gods such a libation. Athene is offered the first chance and does
offer libation to Poseidon, asking that he grants honour to Nestor and his sons
and that Telemachus accomplish the task he went there for and reach home
safely.
• Telemachus repeats the prayer and they eat.
• Nestor then asks who they are, where they are from and why they are there.
• Telemachus answers and explains why they are there, to ask if he knows
anything of Odysseus
• Nestor tells of those that he lost at Troy, both friends and family, and talks
about how great Odysseus was and how no-one could match his wits. He also
comments that Telemachus talks exactly as Odysseus did.
• He goes on to tell us what happened after Troy.
o The gods scattered the fleet because they had not behaved sensibly and
honestly and they had angered Athene.
o It began with Agamemnon and Menelaus arguing about whether they
should first stay and make further sacrifices’ to the gods to appease
them or they should go straight away.
o The soldiers then divided themselves up between those who wished to
go with Menelaus and those who wanted to stay with Agamemnon
o Odysseus went with Menelaus initially but then swung back when they
reached Tenedos
o Nestor stayed with Menelaus and fled with Diomedes
o Nestor stayed on course and got home fine, but has no news of the
mend left behind
• Nestor then tells us that he knows that the Myrmidons got home alright and so
did Idomeneus.
• The story of Agamemnon is one again brought up and Nestor encourages
Telemachus to be as brave as Orestes
• Telemachus replies that if only he could be as brave as Orestes so he could
kick the suitors out of the house.
• Nestor says that he has heard about the situation with the suitors and tells him
that if only the gods would show Telemachus some of the favour that Athene
showed Odysseus in Troy, as then they would have left a long time ago.
• Telemachus tells him that there is no chance of this happening, but Athene
interjects that a god who wants to can bring someone home alright.
• Telemachus dismisses this as he is certain that Odysseus is dead and believes
that the Gods have already decided that Odysseus can only die. He changes the
subject to ask Nestor why Menelaus didn’t help Agamemnon at his death.
• Nestor then tells us a more in depth story of what happened with Agamemnon
and Clytaemnestra
o At first she ignored the advances of Aegisthus as she was a sensible
woman and Agamemnon had left her a minstrel to watch over her.
o Aegisthus however took the minstrel to a desert island and left him
there
o When he got back he took Clytaemnestra to his house and found that
she’d changed her mind and was now a willing lover.
o He then sacrificed lots and lots to the gods to appease them for his
transgressions.
o Meanwhile the Greeks were still sailing back from Troy and one of
Menelaus’ helmsmen was struck down by illness, and as he was such a
good helmsmen Menelaus stopped off to bury him.
o However when he started sailing again he went off course and ended
up in Egypt where he picked up a fortune in gold and jewels etc.
o Back at home however, Aegisthus killed Agamemnon and was
reigning for years over Mycenae
o Orestes came to kill him from Athens and then planned a funeral where
Menelaus arrived.
• Nestor warns Telemachus to heed the lesson of not staying away from home to
long or the suitors will take everything he has. Nestor goes on to advise
Telemachus to visit Menelaus as he was the last one home so he may have
heard something about Odysseus’ return.
• Nestor offers Telemachus a horse and chariot to use to get there as well as his
sons to act as escorts.
• Athene now speaks and suggests that they go to bed and Telemachus and
Athene go back towards the ships but they are stopped by Nestor who offers
them beds for the night inside the palace.
• Athene replies that Telemachus should stay but that she must go the next day
and visit the Cauconians as they owe her debt but that Telemachus should use
the chariot and escort.
• Athene then leaves
• Nestor exclaims that he realises now that they had been visited by Athene and
that Telemachus cannot fail now he has a guardian god. He then suggests that
they make sacrifice for her.
• They make libations and sacrifices and then they go to sleep.
• In the morning Nestor makes further sacrifice towards Athene and Telemachus
receives a bath.
• Nestor then gets Telemachus a pair of horses and a chariot and Peisistratus
gets on behind him. They then leave for Sparta