Odyssey Guided Reading Questions
The questions below are not meant to be exhaustive in terms of structure or theme; they
are meant to provoke thought about some of the more important characters, themes, and
events in our text.
1. What sort of character is Calypso? How long does Odysseus stay on her island?
What is the source of Calypso's power over Odysseus? To what extent does she
help Odysseus or hinder him once the decision to let him go is forced upon her by
2. How does Odysseus respond to the shipwreck that he meets upon leaving
Calypso? Follow the motions of his spirit as he struggles to save himself - that is,
track how the poet represents Odysseus' emotions and thoughts during and after
3. How is the behavior of Nausicaa, the young Phaeacian princess who discovers
Odysseus washed up on the shore, appropriate to the situation? What makes her
an admirable character?
4. How does Odysseus treat Nausicaa?
5. What effect does the song sung by the harper Demodocus have upon Odysseus?
Demodocus sings again later in the book - again, with what effect on Odysseus?
Is the latter's response different from what we would expect of modern-day
6. How does Odysseus respond to the challenge of Broadsea? What Odyssean
qualities shine through in this episode of athletic competition?
7. When does Odysseus reveal his identity? How has he been careful in keeping that
information to himself from Books 5-8?
8. List Odysseus' tales in the order that he tells them. What patterns of meaning do
you find emerging from this order?
9. Patterns aside, what do the individual stories Odysseus recounts tell us about him
and his men? For example, what makes Odysseus a worthy leader? Does he make
mistakes while leading his men? How is he better than his men? Are there dangers
in his strengths?
10. This is actually a question for books 9-12 as a unit, but I'll ask it here: why is it
important that Odysseus recount all his wanderings as past events? Why doesn't
Homer simply construct his epic as a linear (i.e. "straight-line") progression of
events from the Trojan War onward?
11. What sort of character is Circe? Why (aside from her magic) is she able to turn
Odysseus' men into swine? What have they done to offend her, or what weakness
do they show?
12. What makes Odysseus succumb for a time to Circe's enticements? What is his
13. Why does Odysseus need to visit Hades (the Greek Underworld) and consult with
Tiresias the blind prophet of Thebes?
14. What does Odysseus learn from Tiresias in Hades? What other characters does
Odysseus speak with, and what does he learn from them?
15. In general, how would you characterize Odysseus' attitude towards his journey to
the Underworld? That is, what does the episode tell us about him?
16. What is the Greek Underworld (Hades) like? How is it unlike the Christian Hell?
17. Odysseus returns to Circe's island after his visit to Hades. What adventures still
await him? Again, what do those adventures tell us about Odysseus as a hero?
1) Read the notes/introduction starting on page 222 in your Volume A anthology. You
will want to have the Homer guided reading questions on hand as you read.
2) You DO NOT have to read all of The Odyssey! Read the following "books" in your
World Lit book: Books 5-6, 8-12
Then visit the modern version website (on the next screen) and read Books 20-23.
You may want to read some of others there too. Each book has a nice little summary
at the top, so you may want to go through each book just to get the highlights.
answer the following questions for the piece of literature you read this week:
Setting: When and where does the story take place?
Characterization: Who are the main characters of the story? Who is/are the protagonist and
antagonist? Are they static or dynamic characters? Does the author use direct exposition or indirect
revelation to tell you what the characters are like? Does this story have a “hero”? What makes
Plot: What is the conflict in the story? What is the climax of the story? What is the resolution of the
Theme: What is/are the main idea(s) in the story? What do you learn from the story? How are the
themes of the story observed in life and society today?
NOTE: Please be sure to write your answers in complete and coherent sentences, and answer
ALL the questions posed! Do not attach your answers as a document.. Use evidence from the
books to support YOUR answers.
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