Book XXIII: How Odysseus Found His Wife Again


Odysseus reveals his identity to Penelope, but she is skeptical.  She tests him by having Eurycleia provide a place to sleep by moving a bed into the hallway.  Odysseus becomes angry because he built the bed out of a tree trunk and knew it could not be removed unless significantly changed.    Penelope then knows that he is her husband.  Next he explains the prophecy from Tieresias that he must carry an oar inland and make sacrifices to Poseidon.  He also needs to gather his livestock and goods that were taken by the suitors, and visit his father.  He instructs her to stay locked inside her room with the maids.

  1. How does Penelope test Odysseus?  Why does she test him?
  2. Describe the one last task that Tiresias gives Odysseus in his prophecy?  Why do you think this task is important?
  3. After Odysseus tells Penelope his adventures, he sets off again.  What does he go do?  What does he tell Penelope to do?

Book XXII: The Battle in the Hall


Immediately Odysseus reveals himself and kills Antinous with an arrow.  Eurymachus tries to convince him that Antinous is to blame for everything and that the other suitors shouldn’t be killed.  Odysseus gives them the chance to run away, but they choose to fight – led by Eurymachus.  Odysseus, Telemachus, and the two servants skill everyone except Phemious and Medon.  Odysseus asks Eurycleia to identify the maids who have been unfaithful and bring them to him.  He makes them clean up the blood and the bodies.  Telemachus kills them.  Melanthios is cut up and fed to the dogs.  The maids and servants come and celebrate the return of Odysseus.

  1. What did Odysseus prove about his abilities when he shot the arrow through the twelve axes?  Why is that important now?
  2. Who gets killed first and why?
  3. How does Eurymachus plea his and the other suitor’s case?
  4. Who raids the storeroom?  What happens to him?
  5. How are the unfaithful maids identified?  What happens to them?  Do they deserve this fate?

Book XXI: The Contest with the Great Bow


Penelope issues her challenge to the suitors, but none of the men can bend the bow to string it.  Odysseus finds a chance to confides in Philoetius and Eumaeus and include them in his plans for revenge.  Odysseus easily strings the bow and shoots an arrow through the twelve axe-heads.  Eumaeus tells the women to lock themselves int he bedrooms while Telemachus and Odysseus arm themselves against the suitors.

  1. Who does Odysseus trust to help him defeat the suitors?
  2. Why don’t the men want Odysseus to try to string the bow?
  3. How does Odysseus prove his true identity?

Book: XVII: How Odysseus Returned to His Own Home


Telemachus returns home, accompanied by Theoclymenus.  Eumaeus brings the disguised Odysseus to his home where the suitors are entertaining themselves as usual.  Odysseus is recognized only by Argos, his old hunting dog, who dies after hearing his master’s voice one last time.  Odysseus tests the suitors by begging for food from each one.  Penelope tells Eumaeus to bring the beggar to her; she wants to know if he has any news about Odysseus.

  1. What does Theoclymenos prophecy to Penelope?
  2. How does Odysseus test the suitors?
  3. Who recognizes Odysseus right away?  How does he recognize him?
  4. Who makes Odysseus extremely angry?
  5. Why does Odysseus want to test his servants and his wife before revealing his identity?

Book XVI: How Telemachus Met His Father


Athena instructs Odysseus to reveal his identity to Telemachus and to plan their revenge on the suitors.  Eumaeus tells Penelope that Telemachus has returned safely to Ithaca.  When the suitors, led by Antinoos, learn that their plan to kill Telemachus has failed; they plot to kill him another way.

  1. What does Telemachus call Eumaeus?  Why?
  2. Describe Athena’s changes to Odysseus’s appearance.
  3. Who does Telemachus think Odysseus is when Athena removes his disguise?
  4. What do Odysseus and Telemachus plan to do?
  5. Describe Penelope’s confrontation with Antinoos.

Book XV: How Telemachus Sailed Back to Ithaca


Athena finds Telemachus at the mansion of Menelaos and instructs him to return home.  Odysseus learns from Eumaeus about his (Odysseus’) parents and how Eumeaus was bought by Laertes when he was a child.  Telemachus lands safely back on Ithaca and, by Athena’s instructions, goes straight to Eumaeus.

  1. How has Eumaeus proven his faithfulness in this and previously?
  2. Who do you think will be the first to recognize Odysseus through the beggar disguise?

Book XIV: Odysseus and the Swineherd


  1. What is the name of the swineherd?
  2. What does Odysseus tell the swineherd about himself?
  3. Describe Odysseus’s disguise.

Book XIII: How Odysseus Came to Ithaca

  1. Describe Odysseus’ journey from Scheria.
  2. What does Poseidon initially want to do the Phaeacian ship?
  3. What decision does Alcinoos make because of the wrath of Poseidon?
  4. Why and for how long does Athena want Odysseus to be in disguise?
  5. What does Athena instruct Odysseus to do now that he has returned to Ithaca?
  6. Whom does Athena instruct Odysseus to visit first?

Book XII: The singing Sirens and the terrors of Scylla and Charybdis


Odysseus tells of their return to Aiaia to bury Elpenor and of Circe’s warning of the dangers to come:  the Sirens, Scylla, Charybdis, and Helios’s cattle.  The men make it through the perils of the sea as predicted.  On land however, when they run out of provisions, they eat Helios’s cattle despite promises to Odysseus.  At sea all, except Odysseus, are killed as a punishment  He is left adrift for nine days before landing on the island of Oygygia, Calypso’s home.  Alcinoos and the other listeners are now up-to-date on the travels of Odysseus.

  1. Why should Odysseus be wary of the Sirens?  What should they do to keep safe from them?
  2. Describe Scylla.
  3. What will Charybdis do if Odysseus’ ship gets too close?
  4. What secret does Odysseus keep from his men?
  5. Describe the demise of Odysseus’s shipmates?  Is it his fault?

Book XI: How Odysseus visited the kingdom of the dead


Odysseus follows Circe’s instructions.  In Hades, he first sees a dead shipmate, Elpenor, then his mother, Anticleai, then Tiresias.  Tiresias tells him what will happen to him next, including a warning about the cattle of Helios and how to reconcile with Poseidon.  Next he talks with his mother and she answers many questions for him.  At this point, Odysseus tries to conclude his storytelling, but Alcinous begs him to continue.   He finishes by saying he met the souls of many who passed away, then he left Hades.

  1. What does Odyssesu do to call the souls fo the dead to him?
  2. Who is Tiresias?  Why does Odysseus want to talk to him?  What is his prediction?
  3. What should Odysseus do to the suitors at his house?
  4. Who is Odysseus’ mother? How did she die? Why can’t Odysseus hug her?
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