|Athena is Odysseus' patron deity; he is her favorite human
being. Look at some of the scenes in the Odyssey where they interact and describe their
relationship in some detail, giving specific examples from more than one book of the
|Look at the various warnings about what Clytemnestra did to
Agamemnon, especially in Books XI and XXIV (the underworld scenes. Then review the dangers
and violence of Odysseus' homecoming, and think about how Odysseus approached Penelope and
how he hanged the traitorous serving girls (Book XXII). Do you think Homer's audience
accepted that the girls deserved to be killed? How do you feel about the scene personally?
Does it give you any insights into the concepts of right and wrong in Homer's day and how
those concepts might be different than in our time? Give specific examples from more than
one book in the Odyssey to support your ideas.
|List several of the women, mortal and divine in the
and write a brief description of each one. Finally, write a paragraph or two summing up
Homer's ideas about the roles of women in the Odyssey--what they are like and how they are
|Later civilizations disapproved of Homer because "he
told lies about the gods." Look in the Odyssey for some of these "lies."
List and describe several of them. Do you think Homer actually believed in gods such as he
sang about? If so, do you think he was being impious to his gods? Why or why not? Support
your position with specific examples from the Odyssey.
|Why does Odysseus go to Hades and what does he learn there?
Go into plenty of detail, using specific examples from Book 11 to support your ideas.
|Compare Odysseus to a modern hero. The modern hero may be a
fighter, a ruler, a leader, or an athlete; he may be real or fictional. Write a brief
biography of each hero, looking at the specifics of his family life, beliefs, friendships,
activities, heroic behaviors, etc. Then, explain how each hero affects the society he
lives in and how people feel about him. Finally, what are the most interesting differences
between your two heroes and so what?
|Go to Bronze Age Images. Look through the various images and select three that might actually have
existed in the world of the Odyssey. Describe each image and explain exactly where in the
Odyssey you would expect to find it, who would use it, own it, live in it, etc., and what
you could learn about the Odyssey from seeing the image. Support your ideas with specific
examples from the Odyssey and from the images.
|Go to the Homer Web Site and look at
several images of the Trojan War. Select three which deal with the events of the
Describe each image and compare it to the corresponding scene in the Odyssey. How has the
artist interpreted the characters, events, etc.? Do you agree with the artist's
interpretation? Why or why not? Explain using specific examples to support your points.
|Go to the Homer Web Site and scroll
down to the section on the Troy Cycle. Look at the list of Troy epics and the characters
and plot of the overall Troy Cycle to get a feeling for the mythic context of the
Now think about the relations of gods and humans in the Odyssey. Select two interesting
scenes where gods and humans interact. Describe each scene in some detail and explain its
role in the overall story. Do you think these gods were any more or less real to Homer
than the heroes? Why or why not? Support your ideas with specific examples from the
|Go to Bulfinch's Mythology
and look up the stories of two or three major gods and/or heroes from the Odyssey. Now
select one or more specific scenes in the Odyssey that can be better understood after
reading about the characters' mythological roles. Explain the way the mythology helps you
to understand each scene, using specific details from both Bullfinch and the
support your ideas.
|Review the scenes in Hades in Books 11 and 24 of the
Odyssey. What can you learn about Homer's conception of life after death from reading
them? Use specific examples to support your insights.
|Odysseus has relationships with a number of women. List
these women and then compare how he relates to different ones. Be sure to include Kirke (a
witch) and Nausicaa (a nice young princess) in your list. Can you learn anything about
Odysseus from how he relates to these different women? Use specific examples from the
story to support your points.
|Pick the character in the Odyssey that you think is
the most "monstrous" and explain just what you find monstrous about him/her/it,
and why. Be sure to use specific, detailed examples from the story to support your
|Odysseus survives many ordeals that kill his men, such as
the Kyklops, Skylla and Charybdis, and the final shipwreck. Discuss Odysseus as a leader
of his men. Why do you think he survives while his followers do not? Support your
discussion with examples from the story.
|Look at Book 1 of the Odyssey, where Athena and Zeus discuss
human behavior, Odysseus, and justice. Now look at the Book of Job, where God and Satan
arrange to test Job to satisfy Satan's cynical curiosity about Job's goodness. Compare
divine attitudes toward human beings in Job and in The Odyssey, noting what similarities
there are, if any, and what differences. Support your observations with specific examples
from both narratives.
|Samuel Butler and Robert Graves both
believed that the Odyssey had been written by a woman. Robert
Graves wrote a novel, Homer's Daughter, about Nausicaa, the
woman who composed the Odyssey. Get a copy of this novel, read
it, and then write an essay explaining whether or not you agree that a
woman could have written the Odyssey. Support your ideas with
plenty of examples from both the novel and the Odyssey. Worth
double credit if very well done.
|One of the themes explored in The Odyssey is that of the passage from adolescence to adulthood.
Construct a character analysis of Telemachus with careful consideration of his development from
boy to man. Consider the role of Athena (Mentor) in this development as well as the effects of
his father's long absence. (Contributed by Diane Wakely-Park)