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The Odyssey

Summary of each section of this epic poem.

Chelsea McClain

on 11 November 2014

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Transcript of The Odyssey

The Odyssey
The story picks up with Hermes as he is on his way to rescue Odysseus. Athena has pleaded with Zeus to send someone to help her favorite mortal, so Zeus sends the messenger to inform Calypso that he demands Odysseus be let go. Odysseus has been on the island of Calypso for 7 years. While he loves his wife and wants to remain faithful to her, he has been unable to resist the temptress, Calypso, and partakes in "other pleasures" with her every night. Each morning when he wakes up, he sits overlooking the horizon and cries for what he has done. Hermes talks with Calypso and lets her know that she has to let Odysseus go. She returns to Odysseus and lets him believe that she is letting him go by her own free will. As he prepares for his departure, Calypso tries to entice Odysseus to stay with her by offering him immortality. He refuses her offers and she becomes upset, wondering how he could love Penelope and think that his wife is more beautiful than a goddess. Aware that she has manipulative and powerful capabilities, in order to not anger her, he tells Calypso that she is more beautiful than Penelope but he wants to leave because he loves his wife and wants to return to his home to reclaim his kingdom. She gives Odysseus a raft and he sets off. She watches him sail away with sadness. However, soon Poseidon spots him and stirs up a storm which breaks apart his raft and almost drowns. He washes up on the shore of the land of the Phaeacians (now known as Asia Minor) and Athena grants him sleep.
Laerte's Son
The next morning, Princess Nausicca finds Odysseus asleep. She brings him back to her father (King Alcinous) and they have a feast to greet their guest at the palace. (It is customary in Greek Culture to not ask who their guest is before they treat them with honor by giving them food.) A blind minstrel comes to the banquet and Odysseus asks to hear a song about Troy, therefore asking for a song about his own travels. Once they are done feasting, King Alcinous asks Odysseus who he is and where he is from. It is now that Odysseus begins to tell the longest dinner story in history! This now is a flashback to how he leaves Troy and ends up with King Alcinous. He tells first who he is and where he is from. Then he recalls his journey of how he has been trapped with Calypso for 7 years and has been been desired by her and the enchantress Circe, however he has never fallen in love with anyone else (just participated in those other pleasures). After he left Troy (from the Trojan war) he was carried by strong winds to Ismaros where the Cicones live. They started to pillage everything that is on their island and the Cicones soon came after them. Odysseus tries to get his men to obey and leave, however they were mutinous and wanted the things that the Cicones had. A battled ensued for many hours and they lost a lot of their men, but they were eventually able to get on their ships and leave. After that, Zeus brought about a strong storm which lasted for three days that almost killed them all. The storm subsided and they almost made it home then, however when they got to Malea the current took them back out to sea, past Cythera and farther out for 9 days.
The Lotus Eaters
They finally comes across an island, the island of the Lotus Eaters. They only land there to get water. After they eat lunch, Odysseus sends out two men and a runner to learn who lives there. All three are offered the Lotus flower and eat it. This flower makes you lose sense of hope and home. Odysseus drives his three lazy lotus eaters back to the ship while they are wailing. He ties them to their benches and yells to the rest of his crew to get back to the ship and to not eat the Lotus. The men get back on the ship and they get back on their way.
After they escape the Cyclopes, they reach the island of Aeolia. There, the wind king (king Aeolus) gives Odysseus all the stormy winds so they can have a safe trip home. The crew gets curious and opens the bag, which sends them back to Aeolia. The king sends them away with nothing. They sail to the island of the Larstrygonians and all the ships but Odysseus' are destroyed and killed. Odysseus sails on to Aeaea the land of Circe. 23 men go explore the island. Eurylochus leads the group of 23 men to search the island. They find Circe's palace. Inside, she is singing and weaving. The men are enchanted by her and decide that she is not harmful and they should go in. Eurylochus makes a wise decision to not go inside, because he fears it may be a trap. The men begin to eat and drink like rude pigs. Circe is disgusted by their actions and puts a potion in their wine that turns them into swine. She puts them all in a cage and keeps them locked up. Seeing this, Eurylochus runs back to Odysseus's ship to tell him what happened. Odysseus runs to rescue his men and on his way, Hermes gives him an herb called Moly to weaken Circe's power. Since Circe has realized she met her match, she decides to change his men back and let them go.
The Cyclops
The Land of the Dead
The Sirens; Scylla & Charybdis
The Cattle of the sun god
They land on the island of the Cyclopes. Odysseus and 12 of his men head onto the island. Odysseus’s curiosity leads them to go into the Cyclops cave. They begin to eat their dinner when the Cyclops, Polyphemus, returns back to his cave. Polyphemus notices they are in the cave and asks who they are and where their ship is. Odysseus tells him they are on their way home from Troy but Zeus has blown them off course, He also lies and says that their boat was wrecked by Poseidon (that way, the cyclops wouldn't try to go find it.) He tells the giant of their travels and what they have accomplished. They say since Zeus has brought them here, that Polyphemus should treat them with respect. Polyphemus laughs at their bravery and calls them ninnys. These giants care not of gods. He grabs two men, bashes their brains on the floor, and eats them. Odysseus wants to kill him once he’s asleep, but they won’t be able to get out (huge boulder in the way). In the morning, Polyphemus eats two more men for breakfast then goes out to tend the sheep. Odysseus comes up with a plan. He and his men take a large olive tree, sharpen it and harden it in the fire. Polyphemus comes back, he eats two men, and Odysseus offers him wine. Polyphemus drinks it and becomes drunk. Polyphemus asks Odysseus’s name and he says it is “nobody”. Polyphemus passes out. Odysseus and his men take the stake and stab it in Polyphemus’s eye. Polyphemus starts screaming to his cyclopes friends and says that nobody has blinded him. They laugh at him and tell him to pray about it. Odysseus ties his men to the bottom of three sheep and tied himself to the bottom of a ram. In the morning, Polyphemus moves the giant rock to let the sheep out to graze and feels the back of each sheep to make sure that the men aren’t escaping. Odysseus and his men run back to the ship. Odysseus cries out to boast to the Cyclops that he has tricked him. He reveals who he is and where he lives, despite his crews pleas to be silent.

(Helios threatened the gods by saying that he would only shine in the underworld if Zeus did not punish the men who ate his cattle.
Meeting of Father and Son
The Phaecians give Odysseus a ship ride home straight back to Ithaca. When he gets there, Athena disguises him as a beggar to protect himself from the suitors that are in his home because they are enemies. He goes to Eumaeus's house (Eumaeus is a trusted swineherd of Odysseus's). Telemachus is also on his way home and heads to Eumaeus's house. The suspense builds as the reader realizes these two characters are coming close to each other. When Telemachus comes to Eumaeus's house, they hug like they are father and son. It is evident that Eumaeus has been there for Odysseus's son as he has been gone while Telemachus has been growing up. Telemachus and Eumaeus treat Odysseus with respect, giving the reader further evidence that Greeks treat their guests like god-sent. Athena cannot stand the suspense any longer and when Odysseus is talking to Telemachus, she changes his appearance back to Odysseus. Telemachus believes that he is a god because only gods can change their appearance before their eyes. Odysseus tells him it is, in fact, him and that it is not princely to not believe and be so much in awe.
Beggar and the faithful dog
Odysseus returns home to his actual palace as a beggar. When he gets there, he sees his dog, Argos. It is clear that Argos has not been taken care of and is very old. Odysseus sheds a tear for this faithful friend. Argos recognizes who Odysseus is (Dramatic Irony), while everyone else is left in the dark that the man of the house has returned. Just as this scene is ending, Argos takes his last breath, and dies after seeing his owner one last time after twenty years.
The test of the Great Bow
The majority of this summary is on the prezi link. Also, some info that was not included:
Eurycleia=Odysseus's nurse. Once Odysseus gets to the palace and Penelope sees him, she treats him well by asking her nurse to wash his feet. When Eurycleia is washing his feet, she recognizes the scar on Odysseus's leg from when he got in a fight with a boar. So she knows it is him. This happens right in front of Penelope, but Athena casts a spell on Penelope so that she does not realize what just occurred.
Death at the palace
Odysseus and penelope
Once all of the suitors have died, Odysseus punishes the traitorous maids and servants by having them clean up the dead bodies and then they are hung in the courtyard. Odysseus then tries to convince Penelope that he has returned, but she has to test him because she thinks the gods are playing a trick on her. She knows they have a signal to know that they are each other. She tells Odysseus that he can stay, but the maids will move his bed outside of her bedchamber and he can sleep there. The "test" with this is that Odysseus made this bed out of an olive tree, which their whole house is built around, therefore. there is no way anyone would be able to move their bed. This recount allows Penelope to know that he really is who he says he is. They embrace and the story ends.
As soon as Odysseus has made his mark with the 12 axehandles, he shoots Antinous (the leader of the suitors) in the throat as he is drinking from a chalice. Then Eurymachus tries to tell Odysseus that he need not kill all the men, they understand Odysseus's point from killing the best man they had. Odysseus denies his request because they have been trying to take over his life and eating his food, drinking his wine, and trying to steal his wife. Before the fight ensued, he had asked Eumaeus and Philoteus to take all of the women away and lock the doors. He had also told Telemachus to steal and hide all of the suitor's weapons so that they could not fight back. Odysseus then begins to kill all of the suitors, despite his fear of their friends/family's revenge, which he revealed to us in the previous section. They take all of the suitors down and Odysseus reclaims his rightful place.
Extra information resources...

More info on ITS under the "Additional Study Materials"

Also, if you feel uncertain about any of the sections, you should go back and read them. All of the sections are on ITS under Odyssey Pages.

Circe tells the men to go seek wisdom from Teriesias, the blind prophet from Thebes. Odysseus goes to the underworld, sacrifices a black lamb so that the souls will come out and then he has to find Teriesias's soul. Once he finds him, he asks for his destiny/fate. Teriesias tells Odysseus of the troubles that he will come across, mainly about the Cattle of Helios. He tells him to stay clear of these cattle because they will bring misfortune to him. He lets Odysseus know that once he gets home, he will kill all the suitors, and then will go to a far away land and make a sacrifice to Poseidon so that all of his "debts" are paid. He will live a happy life and die a peaceful death. When he goes back to Circe, Odysseus is told of the three other monsters he will encounter: sirens, scylla, and charybdis. She tells him to steer clear of Charybdis and how to overcome the Sirens.
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