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The Odyssey

Short Answer Quiz

  1. What is happening in Ithaca since Odysseus didn’t return home from the war? Why do you think the suitors want to marry Penelope? Why are they not worried about how they are treating the household’s food and property?

  1. Why do you think that Odysseus, who has always been rash, doesn’t enter into the town with Nausicaa, but follows a little after? How is he received by her family and by the other men at court? How does he demonstrate his wisdom in the way he deals with them?

  1. How do the men with Odysseus want to escape the Cyclops’ cave? What is wrong with their plan? What is Odysseus’s plan? Why is his plan the wiser one?

  1. With each episode during his return to Ithaca, Odysseus loses more of his possessions and men. What do you think is the point of all the losses? What does he gain with each encounter?

  1. What has he learned about himself that makes him such a new man that he is literally reborn naked and washed up on shore for Nausicaa to find? Describe two incidents in which he demonstrates his newfound self-knowledge.

  1. The gods intervene at many points on Odysseus’s journey home and after his return home. Pick three incidents of a god’s intervention and explain how it influences both the action and Odysseus’s personal development as a great man.

  1. Odysseus has been absent for twenty years and is no longer recognizable. Penelope demonstrates her intelligence by not accepting the stranger’s word for his identity. How does she ascertain that he is indeed Odysseus? Why is this necessary?


  1. Odysseus decides to test the suitors rather than killing them outright.  How does he do this? What is the outcome? Explain why you think he is justified or not.


  1. Odysseus has one last problem after the slaughter of the suitors: the wrath of their families. How does he deal with their wrath? What does this reveal about his character?


  1. The character Telemachus is not essential to move the plot to its logical conclusion. Explain the function of the character using specific incidents from the epic.

  1. Although women had little power in the time of the Odyssey, Penelope uses whatever is available to her to influence the action and the outcome. Trace from the beginning exactly what she did and how it influenced the action and/or outcome.

  1. The epic can be interpreted as Odysseus’s search for self-actualization. Explain how, with each encounter, he comes closer and closer to it. Explain at what point you think he arrives at self-actualization.

  1. The epic does not use chronological order in the telling of the story. Why do you think Homer used the flashback technique of development?  What are the advantages and disadvantages of the technique?


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